Convert Images in Mac OS X: JPG to GIF, PSD to JPG, GIF to JPG, BMP to JPG, PNG to PDF, and more

Jan 24, 2010 - 36 Comments

Preview in Mac You can convert many different image file formats in Mac OS X for free using the included Preview application, there’s no need to download additional tools or do anything overly complex.

As of any somewhat modern version of OS X, the Mac Preview app supports the following file types and will convert between any of them: GIF, ICNS, JPEG, JPG, JPEG-2000, Microsoft BMP, Microsoft Icon, OpenEXR, PDF, Photoshop (PSD), PICT, PNG, SGI, TGA, TIFF. Some of those image formats will be hidden from your default view when saving, requiring the usage of the “Option” key when saving to reveal them. In any event, converting from one image type to another is simple.

How to Convert Image File Formats in Mac OS X with Preview

Image conversion with Preview is a simple process:

  1. Open the image file you want converted within Preview
  2. From the File menu navigate down to “Save As” (or choose Export)
  3. Select the new file format you want the image converted to from the “Format” drop down list
  4. Optionally: change the save destination, or pick somewhere easy to find like the Desktop for the newly converted image file to appear
  5. Click “Save” to save and convert the image to the new format

You can repeat this process with other image files as necessary.

Convert image file formats in Mac OS X

The above process will hold true regardless of the origin images file format and the desired file format. supports a wide range of image conversions: GIF to JPG, JPG to GIF, PSD to JPG, JPG to PDF, JPG to BMP, BMP to JPG, BMP to GIF, PNG to GIF, JPG to PNG, TIFF to JPG, and just about every other variation between these and more. As long as the image format is supported by Preview, it will convert it to any other supported file format.

Converting Images in OS X Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite onward

Preview still maintains the ability to convert pictures, but OS X Lion, Mountain Lion, OS X Mavericks, and OS X Yosemite, are slightly different in a few ways regarding how this procedure is handled:

  1. Open the image to convert into Preview as usual
  2. From the File menu, you will notice “Save As” is hidden by default, so you can choose “Export” instead
  3. Select the file format to change the image file to, to see different image file formats in Preview, hold the Option key when selecting the Format menu and you will see additional options for file type
  4. Save the file as usual to discover the newly converted version in the destination you chose

It’s a good idea to save your files to somewhere easy to find. Easy as pie. Happy converting!

One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re going to be performing an image file conversion of many files to the same file type, let’s say a large group of PNG files that all need to become JPEG, you can perform a batch image format conversion as described here, which is a much faster and more efficient way to handle a large selection of images.

convert images mac

Whether you’re converting a single image file or multiple, the feature exists in all versions of OS X, the only difference other than superficial appearance of the Preview app itself, is whether you will be using the “Export” feature or the “Save As” feature. Modern versions of OS X will have both, which means you can pick either to convert the image to a new format as desired.

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Posted by: Manish Patel in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Useful tip. Preview might be a bit unweildy for batch work but gets the jobs done.

    • Lorne says:

      I have a whole bunch of images (an album of about 1,000 images) that I need to convert from png to jpg. Is there an easy way to do a large batch like that on a Mac?

      I know I can open each png image and convert it to a jpg. Do I have to do them all one by one?

      Any advice would be appreciated.


  2. Olivier says:


    With Mac OS X Preview: 8Kb bmp image -> 12Kb gif
    With Windows Paint: same 8Kb bmp -> 202b gif
    Is there a better Macs OS X app to convert from bmp to gif?


    • Mattie F. says:

      Odds are, the actual file is about the same size. They’re reporting a different measure of space used: Even a one byte file occupies an entire block on the hard drive. Windows is reporting how big the data in the file is, while Mac OS is reporting how much of the hard drive space (one block) the file is using. Also, Mac OS will include the space required for the thumbnail Finder displays along with the image; Windows will hide that space in a different, hidden file.

  3. stephanie says:

    Thank you for the advice. i was able to convert my file easily. I did not even know about the preview app.

  4. friendofsnow says:

    This doesn’t work. All I get is four target file types: .pdf, .png, Photoshop, and .tif.

  5. Tim says:

    I tried this but a program that accepts only 24 bit depth BMP’s does not like the 32 bit depth put out by Preview or in slides saved as BMP from Powerpoint. How to change the bit depth from 32 to 24 bits?

  6. eggythump says:

    All this is meaningless if you use OSX10.4.11, like me.
    Any suggestions for this ‘ancient’ OS?

  7. daire says:

    This is what i am doing, but i have to do around 100 files, its quite tedious doing it one by one, and highlighting all the files and doing this doesnt seem to work!
    Any suggestion?

    • Aske says:

      Run, it´s in Applications folder. When it asks, select “workflow”.
      1. Click “files & folders” on left. From right column drag & drop “ask for finder items” into the left window. Select the folder where your images are, tick “allow multiple selections”.
      2. Drag & drop “copy finder items” and select the folder where you want to copy.
      3. Select “Photos”, and drag “change type of images”. Select the output format.

      Save the workflow for possible future use (File, save as).
      Click run, select the photos to be converted. After a period, You have all the images in the output folder, in another format.

      • Anastatik says:

        Absolutely fantastic advice!!

        5 years a mac user and didn’t have the slightest idea that you can do that!

        Many thanks Aske!

      • An says:

        THANK YOU!!! You saved me a LOT of time!!!

      • Bullesdebleu says:

        Thanks a LOOOOOOOOOOt, Mac friend! I didn’t know either what Automator was for, you save me time and money and I’m definitely going to dive into this great App! Thanks again!

      • Jess says:

        Thank you so much! You saved me an incredible amount of time! : )

      • Mick says:

        Thank you Aske. Automator worked perfectly. Only thing is, I recently installed Photoshop CS6 and under “Change type of images” I can only choose from BMP, JPEG, JPEG 2000, PNG & TIFF. I need to change the format to PSD. Can you suggest how I might do this?


  8. […] from Safari, and go straight to Preview to create a new file which can instantly be edited or converted. stLight.options({ publisher:'fe5e0a84-1fac-40de-8014-9f89fc1cbe6a' […]

  9. Chmedly says:

    How about a way to batch change to png AND change the resolution of the files? I don’t see that option in the Automator tasks even though it can be done in Preview.

  10. Confused says:

    It will not let me save the files. I don’t know what’s going on.

  11. tomte says:

    Great tip, must see if we can add recursion to this.

  12. DanielS says:

    Does it work with Lion too?
    I can’t export my png as gif…

  13. Gari says:

    Re: OS X Lion – yes, use ‘export’ instead of ‘Save As’

    • Ryan says:

      Gari, do you have an option for .gif in yours? My older versions of Mac had that extension, but Lion doesn’t seem to. If not, is there a way to add extension options?

  14. Would anyone venture to say this app is as good or better in some things than Gimp. I researched it and it looks like there were no issues for OS X 10.6 or later.

  15. […] is an often underused Mac OS X app that can handle a lot of file and image conversion tasks without the need for downloading any third party tools. Preview also happens to be the […]

  16. Luis L says:

    You have to hold alt (option) key when you click on the file type to expose hidden types like gif, icns, etc.

    • iann says:

      Thank you Luis L… I was desperate and you gave me what I was looking for : an ANSWER :) Couldn’t understand why some file type had disappear. Now they’re back thanks to you.

  17. leo tam says:

    i did all that in preview but it just come out blank when i export it to pdf so can you please help me

  18. linda says:

    i want to convert a large file that is in photoshop to a jpeg file. How do you do it??????

  19. melanie says:

    I have gone through all of your steps, is it normal to be waiting a long period of time for the items to be converted during the last step? I have been waiting a good 15 minutes.

  20. marina says:

    thanks so much for your explaination !

  21. Pascal says:

    Super infos.

  22. […] thanks to a variety of tools built directly into OS X (and most Linux distributions). Though the easiest method uses Preview for converting images, there’s a command line option that uses the same sips tool we’ve […]

  23. […] “linen.tiff” to the desktop – this is important because the replaced file must be converted to a tiff file with the same file name in order to work […]

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