Monday Morsel - Apple's Preview

Apple's Preview is one you don't want to miss!

Welcome to September, Tech Me Back fans! In today's Monday Morsel, let's take a few minutes to discuss Apple's Preview, a great little piece of software that is part of Mac OS.

Computing in the Internet Age means that life includes PDFs. I'm a big fan of PDFs because since they were introduced in 1993, they have become widely accepted and the file type truly lives up to its name, a Portable Document Format. PDFs are independent of the hardware, software, and operating system a computer is running, so they are great for sharing files and exchanging information. By encapsulating a complete description of a document - including the text, fonts, graphics, and other information needed to display it - a PDF speaks a universal language.

So, how do you "speak" PDF? Chances are that you, like millions of other computer users, rely on Adobe Acrobat. My challenge for you today is to abandon your Acrobat ways. Step away from the trapeze and instead embrace Preview. The name may lead you to think it's not much, but Preview is a powerful piece of software and one of my favorites. Here are five reasons why Preview is one application you don't want to miss.

Create PDFs

Creating PDFs is part of Mac OS, so special software required. For those who have been working with PDFs a while, you may expect that you need the "full version" of Acrobat to have this functionality, but you don't. Because Preview is part of your OS, creating PDFs is as well. Next time you need a PDF, simply go to print the file you're working with. The functionality to create a PDF is an option for you in the lower left corner of your print window. Automatically. In every application that allows you to print. It's that simple.

View and annotate PDFs

To view a PDF file, double-click it to open it in Preview, or drag the PDF file's icon to the Preview icon in your Dock. If you need to work with a PDF - to mark up comments, or otherwise annotate the file, Preview lets you do that with built-in annotation tools. You can zoom in or out, bookmark pages, add notes or highlighting, copy text, fill out forms, and more. The picture posted with this item provides an overview of all the tools.

Add your signature to any PDF

You can use Preview to take a picture of your handwritten signature and add it to PDF documents that requires your signature.

1. Choose Preview > Preferences, click Signatures, and then click Create Signature. Once you create a signature, you can choose Create Signature from the Signature pop-up menu in the Annotations toolbar.
2. Follow the instructions displayed on screen. Make sure your signature fills the box on the left and sits on the blue baseline.
3. When your signature preview looks correct, click Accept

When you're ready to use that signature, you'll use the annotations bar to add it to the file.

1. If you don't see the annotations bar, click Annotate in the toolbar.
2. From the Signature pop-up menu, choose your signature.
3. Click the locations where you want the signature to appear in the PDF. If you click a line, Preview will shrink your signature, if necessary, to fit on it.

Password-protect PDFs

Sometimes you may have a file that needs a little extra protection - a password to keep out wandering eyes. Preview includes an encryption feature that will allow you to add a password to any PDF.

1. Go to "File" and then "Save As."
2. Check the box labeled "Encrypt."
3. Choose a password and type it into the box.
4. Retype the password into the next box as verification.
5. Click the "Save" button.

Be sure you remember this password, because there's no way around the encryption once it is enabled.

Work with image files, too

You can use Preview to look at images, edit them, convert them to a different format, or start a photo slideshow. Many images (such as JPEG, TIFF, GIF, PNG) open in Preview automatically when you double-click the image file. If that doesn't happen, simply drag the file to the Preview icon on your Dock - or drag a folder of image to the Preview icon to open all of them at once.

Bonus tip of the day: If an image opens in a different application but you want it to always open in Preview, when you double-click it, do this one time:
Control-click the file, let go of the Control key, press the Option key, then choose Always Open With > Preview.
Or, select the image file, choose Get Info from the File menu, then change the "Opens with:" pop-up menu choice to Preview.

There are other great features of Preview that I've not covered here. If you'd like to learn more about how to use Preview more effectively on your Mac, Tech Me Back is here to help.

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