Two cool apps - already on your Mac!

The world is full of apps, millions of them.  Some useful, some not, some hard to use, some easy.  Well, your Mac came from Apple with two very cool, useful and easy to use apps.  They are both located in your Applications folder.

Preview - This app’s primary purpose is to be a .pdf reader, like Adobe Reader.  But it does SO much more.  Let’s first explore this role:

  • As a .pdf reader - well, you can read .pdfs with Preview.  You can also annotate them (write on them, circle key areas of a document, etc).  Open a .pdf then go to the Tools menu > Annotate.  There you can select rectangles, ovals, arrows and text boxes.  Very handy.  

However, do not use Preview as a tool to fill in a .pdf (like with your name, address, etc.) if that .pdf was created on a PC.  It will not work.

If you need to sign a .pdf document Preview makes it very easy.  Open Preview and go to Preview > Preferences > Signatures.  Click the Create Signature button, sign your signature in black ink on a white sheet of paper and hold it up to your Mac’s camera.  Preview will help you align the signature to the blue line and then capture and save your signature to use later!  To use it later, open a document in Preview, then go to Tools > Annotate > Signature.  It will appear at your cursor’s location.  From there you can move it around, resize it or whatever.

You can also combine multiple .pdfs into one file.  Open all of the files you want to combine, then choose View > Thumbnails then View > Sidebar > Expand All.  Drag pages between documents from one document’s sidebar to the other!

  • As an app to use with your scanner - go to File > Import from Scanner.  Choose your scanner and on the resulting window make sure to click the Show Details button along the bottom.  Then you can choose all sorts of settings about the scanned document - size, file type, etc.
  • As an app to take a screen shot - go to File > Take Screen Shot.  Click on what kind of shot you want and it does the rest!  The screenshot appears in Preview.
  • As an app to Import from Camera - go to File > Import from Camera (with your camera or camera card attached to your Mac).  It will import pictures into Preview.
  • As a photo editor - Preview does things that iPhoto cannot do!  Open a .jpg photo in Preview, then go to Tools > Adjust Size.  You can resize photos to an exact number of pixels, inches, mm or whatever your specification.  iPhoto cannot do this.  You can also adjust the color and other qualities of the photo by going to Tools > Adjust Color.  A window containing an edit screen much like the advanced editing pane in iPhoto appears for you to use.  You can even annotate pictures with marks, speech or thought bubbles and more (Tools > Annotate...).  Of course, also in the Tools menu you can rotate or mirror image the photo!

All that said, I still recommend you have a copy of Adobe Reader on your Mac to more easily process .pdfs created on PCs (especially those with fillable fields).

Image Capture - This app’s primary purpose is to scan from your scanner (or your printer’s scanner).  Originally it was meant as a way to import photos from your digital camera, but there are better ways to do that now (iPhoto, for one).  It is by far the best scanning software I have ever used and should work with virtually any scanner.

  • Open Image Capture and your scanner should appear on the left side.  USB-connected scanners appear under the Devices heading, network scanners appear on the Shared heading.  Click once on your scanner.
  • Next, click Show Details along the bottom.  On the right side you will see all sorts of settings.  Notable settings:
  • Choose Color, Black and White.  Do not choose Text as the output is terrible.
  • Pick the Resolution - 300 dpi for photos (JPEG), 100 for documents (PDF).
  • Auto selection: this setting helps you select what part of the document to scan.  If you fill your scanner glass with photos, leaving about 1/4” of space between them, then choose Detect Separate Items, it will scan each photo into its own file!  Cool!
  • Scan To: Of course, you can choose virtually any folder on your Mac, but there is even more.  You can scan directly to an email message by choosing Mail (you have to be using Mail to get your email, not getting on a web browser).  You can also scan directly to iPhoto!  Cool again!
  • Format: You will generally choose either JPEG for photos or PDF for documents.  If you choose PDF for a document, you can check the box just below that “Combine into a single document” to create a multi-page .pdf document.
  • I do not generally do any Image Correction in Image Capture, but rather use Preview or iPhoto to edit what I scan.

When you are all done and ready to scan, simply click the Scan button in the lower right.

So, go explore these two apps that you already have!