How to Add Text to Photos Easily Using Preview in Mac OS X

May 16, 2013 - Leave a Comment

Adding text to images is a fairly simple process to begin with that is made even easier with Preview, the basic image viewing app that is bundled on all Macs. Most people don’t think of Preview when they think of making adjustments and edits to pictures like this, but it works just fine, and because Preview has shipped with every version of OS X from the dawn of time, you’ll never have to download a third party app to just place some words onto a photo.

Placing text on a picture with Preview, free in Mac OS X

If you’ve never delved into Preview’s font and text tools, here’s how to use them.

How to Add Text to Photos with Preview’s Text Tool

  • Open the photo to add text to into Preview app
  • Click the “Show Edit Toolbar” button in the toolbar, then choose the “Text Tool” button
  • Click with the text tool onto the section of photo where to add the text, then type out the words you want to add

These are the initial buttons to press to reveal the Edit Toolbar, and show the text tool:

Add text to photos in Preview

Once the text is placed, you can move it around just by grabbing it with the cursor.

It’s simple enough to add text, but you can stylize it too by changing the font, font size, or color:

  • Change the font or font size by selecting all the text (Command+A) and then hitting the “Show Fonts” button
  • Change the color by selecting the text and selecting a new color from the Colors menu, or by choosing “Other Color” and finding one in the color picker

And here are the text tools, color selector, and font tools:

Add text to photos, change the font color, adjust font size, etc

Here is what Preview looks like with both the font and color panels open:

Adding text to images in Preview app under Mac OS X

When finished, save the photo as usual, or use “Save As” or “Export” to create a new file with the text placed on the image.

This video walkthrough shows how fast this entire process is, it takes under a minute to open a file, add some text to the photo, adjust it, then save the file. Not bad for a simple tool bundled with Mac OS X:

You can also use Preview to add cartoon style speech bubbles to pictures if you feel like going with a more goofy look.

Preview is pretty decent but if you’re looking for more options for stylizing the text you’ll need to turn to third party applications. Interestingly enough, you can’t add words or text to pictures with iPhoto, at least with the current versions, though that may change in the future. One simple and free third party solution is to use Skitch, which offers a few more text styling options like outlined text, or better yet, go all out and buy an app like Pixelmator, which is a full-fledged image editor and Photoshop competitor at a fraction of the cost ($15 as of writing).

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

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