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Mac OS X Tutorial: Master the Preview Preferences options

The Preview preferences are useful, and understanding how to utilise them can streamline your usage of this handy application. This tutorial shows you how to make the most of them.

In its introduction to Mac OS X Applications and Utilities, Apple describes Preview as a smart, straightforward, image and PDF viewing application with limited searching and editing functionalities… This is not entirely true as there is more to Preview than meets the eye – and all the more so when properly configured. Although Preview is indeed simple to use, a closer inspection of its Preferences cannot fail to expose its resourcefulness. Preview has four groups of settings: general operations, PDF editing and viewing, image editing and viewing, and PDF bookmarks.
Undeniably, Preview’s claimed simplicity of use and niftiness are genuine, but with just one or two judiciously set Preferences, your usage of this application can be greatly changed for the better. Let us take a look at how configuring its Preferences can leverage these functionalities.

1: Preview Preferences

You can launch Preview from your Applications folder or Dock. Access to the Preferences is via the Preview drop-down menu.

2: General – opening files
The ‘When opening files’ option configures whether groups of files are opened in a single window or each one in its own window.

3: General – background colour
‘Window background’ lets you to alter the colour of the empty space which surrounds documents. Click the colour selector and choose a shade you like.

4: Image – size/image-to-screen ratio
‘Initial image scale’ lets you fit larger images in the window. ‘Define 100% scale as’ sets the relationship between image size, screen size and resolution.

5: PDF – size
‘Initial document size’ is similar to the ‘Initial image scale’ option, since it shrinks larger PDFs to fit the screen. It also allows you to choose the zoom level.

6: PDF – PDF-to-screen ratio
‘Define 100% scale as’ sets the relationship between document size and size on the screen, eliminating the impact of screen res on displayed size.

7: PDF – opening PDF files
‘On opening…’ allows auto-opening of the TOC, if available, and permits the automatic return to the last page being read prior to closing the document.

8: PDF – rendering quality
‘Viewing documents’ options enable anti-aliasing for graphics and text, and aid searching of documents containing both Roman and Arabic page numbers.

9: PDF – annotations
The last option in the PDF Preferences pane permits you to enter the name of your choice, in a text field, to be added to any annotations made to a PDF.