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Snow Leopard’s faster, more robust Preview for PDFs & images

Snow Leopard's faster, more robust Preview for PDFs & images

Continuing our coverage of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, we take a look at enhancements to Preview. Primarily used as a PDF and image viewer, Preview is becoming more powerful and lightweight at the same time.

The raw speed Apple has squeezed out of Preview in Snow Leopard is astounding. Opening an image or PDF is just about instantaneous and the program’s interface is snappier as well. And yet, with these performance boosts also come new and improved features. They’re mostly little things, but aren’t those the ones that always turn out to be the best in everyday use? For example, text selection in multi-column PDF documents used to be impossible. With 10.6’s version of Preview, paragraph structures are better recognized and text selection is a breeze. Not to mention the fact that importing images from cameras and scanners is easier than ever – as is proofing your work for a number of printing situations.

Another improvement worth pointing out is actually one of my favorites… the higher-quality image scaling engine. Try zooming out or resizing an image in Leopard’s Preview and you’ll find nothing but blurriness. What a disappointment! This isn’t the case in Snow Leopard, which keeps everything nice and sharp. And for those of you who found making rectangular selections aggravating in Leopard, 10.6 offers some relief. The selection’s dimensions (in pixels) are now displayed in a convenient popup and holding the Shift key down will restrict the selection to an even square.

Going back to Preview’s new features in 10.5 Leopard, annotations and markups were a big deal – especially to folks who work with PDFs on a regular basis. And they’ve been given a nice overhaul in Snow Leopard. The top toolbar now includes an Annotate button, which displays a compact toolbar at the bottom of the window. Showing different options for images and PDFs, the annotations toolbar intelligently adapts to the current document. Users can add shapes, comments, highlights, text, arrows, and customize them all with a number of settings like color and line thickness. For even more customizations, go to Tools > Show Inspector in the menu bar and click on the 4th tab.

Although it’s not quite there yet, Preview is slowly morphing into a competitor to two of Adobe’s most popular programs: Acrobat and Photoshop. I don’t expect it to ever fully match those applications in terms of power or features, but it sure has come close in 10.6 Snow Leopard and will certainly meet the needs of most casual users.

7 Comments Have Been Posted (Leave Your Response)

You seem to have missed that Preview can no longer build and dissect pdf documents, at least on my Mac. When multiple PDF pages are opened in the same window on Preview, they can no longer be saved as a single PDF, but are kept as separate, inviolate PDF documents. This looks like a sop to Adobe to me… Please let me know if I missed something!

At first I thought you might have been right, but I dug around the program and think I might have found what you’re missing. When you’re dragging pages from one PDF’s sidebar to another in Preview, try dropping the pages on top of an existing page rather than above or below it. Preview groups document pages together in 10.6 and dropping a page above or below will just start a new document in the same window. I hope this helps.

My preview doesn’t work since installing Snow Leopard. Anybody else have that problem?

Preview works for me for .pdfs but not for pictures … I can print them and turn them into .pdfs, I can edit them and do all sorts of things … I just can’t see them … I’ve spent over an hour trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong … but nothing seems to change …

To nancy O and RRinjapan.

I have the same problem with preview on Snow Leopard. Works fine for opening pdfs etc but itwont open some (many) images (almost all jpegs that I’ve tried).

If anyone has seen this and figured it out please let me know the solution!



I use preview only for viewing documents. I found the combination of a PDF file, Tiger’s preview, and a table of contents in the sidebar to be the best documenation viewer on the planet. Unfortunately Snow Leopord’s preview broke my toy.

But the worst thing is the sidebar itself – the text is doomed to being “you have to lean forward to read this” small and even at that the sidebar can’t be made wide enough to hold the widest of my TOC lines. Replacing part (or even all) of the current window with the sidebar would be an improvement but I’d really rather have the old preview.

Is there buried configuration information that addresses the new Preview personality? Is there a way to get Tiger’s preview to run in Snow Leopard?



Also, the only viewing feature missing from preview is forward/back buttons to traverse the hypertext links used like the ones in the browser use! You Tiger’s preview was on the verge of being among the worlds truly great and well thought out software!