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How to Annotate documents in Preview on Mac

Utilise Preview’s little-used editing tools to make notes on your documents on your Mac

MainPreview isn’t just for viewing photos and PDFs. The built-in app is much more powerful than many users realise and it offers a selection of tools that you may not even know exist. For example, while Preview is great for viewing images and photos, it can also be used to add notes to these images, from highlighting text in PDF files and adding notes within the margins, to adding shapes to highlight specific areas.

Alternatively, you can use Preview to draw free-hand onto your images, adding specific shapes or even custom notes in the form of signatures. Scribble down your autograph on a piece of paper and you can scan it with your FaceTime HD camera to add to your documents and letters. Let’s get started and find out how these tools work.


Step 1

1 Highlighting

If you just want to pick out a specific part of the text, all you need to do is select the area you want and click the Markup button in the toolbar to add a colour highlight.

Step 2

2 Change colours

By default your highlight colour will be yellow. Click the down arrow next to the Markup button and you’ll see that you can change this to any of the five colours available.

Step 3

3 Underline or Strikethrough

You also have the option to Underline or add a Strikethrough line on your text. Click this option, then highlight the text you want to mark to add it to your document.

Step 4

4 Text boxes

You can also add text to your document and place it anywhere you like. Open the Edit toolbar by clicking the next button along, choose Text Tools, then click anywhere on your document.

Step 5

5 Text styles

When you’ve written your text, remember that you can change the font and colour using the controls on the left, or hit Cmd+T to view the Fonts menu for more options.

Step 6

6 Bubbles

Click the downward arrow next to the Text Tools button and you’ll see that you also have options to add outlined text, or add a speech or thought bubble to your document.

Step 7

7 Add a note

When marking up a document, adding notes can be really useful. Click the Notes button in the toolbar and you can place an expandable note anywhere on the screen.

Step 8

8 Drag it around

You can move the note to anywhere you like, and choose different coloured notes. Combine these with highlighted text in different colours for excellent results.

Step 9

9 Adding shapes

Alternatively, you can add shapes to your image or document to circle or point to specific things. Click the square circle or line tools, and remember the line tool can also draw arrows.

Click Image to Enlarge: