How to Open All Images Into One Window in Preview for Mac

Oct 11, 2017 - 17 Comments

Preview in Mac

If you open multiple images into Preview on a Mac with some regularity, you may notice that sometimes pictures are grouped into single windows, and sometimes images are opened independently each into separate unique windows. If you’d rather all images be opened into a single window of Preview app on the Mac (or into unique windows for that matter), you can make a settings adjustment to achieve this.


This is a simple usability adjustment that can make the Preview image viewer on the Mac a bit less cluttered.

Open All Images Into a Single Preview Window on Mac OS

  1. Open the Preview app in Mac OS and go to the “Preview” menu, then choose “Preferences”
  2. Under the ‘General’ preferences tab, look for “When opening files” and choose “Open all files in one window”
  3. Open all Preview windows into a single window on Mac

  4. Close Preferences and open a group of images into Preview, all images will now open into a single preview window

Opening all files and images in Preview into a single window will look like this:

Preview windows open into single window on Mac

Compared to this, where some files will open in separate windows within Preview, but some will be grouped as well, depending on when and how they were opened in the app:

Preview windows separate

This capability is best used with thumbnails in the sidebar of Preview, so if for some reason you are hiding those be sure to enable the thumbnail viewer as part of the Preview app by clicking the sidebar option in the Preview tool bar.

Of course if you like the default behavior of opening groups of files into the same window, meaning some files will open into into separate windows and some will be grouped, you can return to the Preview preferences and set that with “Open groups of files in the same window”, or you can cause every single file and image to open into a unique separate window with “Open each file in its own window”.

For some quick background, Preview is the default image viewer in Mac OS, which can not only open and view pictures and photos but also make edits, add text captions, convert pictures, resize pictures, rotate, crop images, fill out pdf forms, sign documents, batch convert image formats, import photos from cameras, and so much more, it’s really one of the better under appreciated apps on the Mac.

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

17 Comments

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  1. Nevin says:

    Terrific! I often wondered why Preview would sometimes open some pics in one window, and other pics in another.

    Though, I found, if I quit out and re-opened once or twice, they would eventually all open in a single window. My setting had been “…Group..”, however, there was often no rhyme or reason, except, perhaps, the first few shots of a time lapse set.

    I expect it ought to work more consistently now.

    Thanks!

  2. vdiv says:

    Preview is the most awesome and capable app in MacOS. That means Apple will sooner or later find a way to destroy it as they have done with iTunes, QuckTime, Disk Utility, etc. :(

    • Steve Smith says:

      Don’t forget about TextEdit… Which used to be a really useful editing tool until they forced that auto save on us!

      S

  3. WTS says:

    agree with you

  4. Nede says:

    Very good, a basic tip that I did not know.

  5. Robin says:

    Thanks for this! It will definitely make my life easier!

  6. sherpa14k says:

    Wow, I didn’t know about that trick. Thanks for this one ;)

  7. Jeff says:

    Another way is leave the preference alone and if you find you have a dozen preview documents open, from the marque… Window/Merge All Windows.

    Now they are all in one using tabs!

  8. Ken says:

    In High Sierra (macOS 10.13) it seems that this option is under “Images” rather than “General.”

  9. michael p says:

    This has never worked in all the years Preview has been on my computer, through all the updates, through all the clean installs.

    The fact that it would open into multiple windows when I select multiple documents then strike cmd-O to me seems like a bug in the first place, inasmuch as there’s no rhyme or reason for which picture opens into which window.

  10. Dina says:

    I have stored all my photographs to the iCloudDrive, did exactly what this tutorial said and still, I cannot view all my photographs as explained above.

  11. Steve says:

    I have Preview Version 10.0 (944.1) running in OSX High Sierra Version 10.13, and this doesn’t work. The option to open all files in one window is currently only under the images tab, not the general tab.

    I used to be able to open all files — images and pdf’s — in one window, but no longer. There is the option to “Merge all Windows,” but it puts each PDF in a separate tab in that window.

  12. Alex says:

    Does not work with PDF under High Sierra. But it did so with Sierra.

  13. A.A. says:

    Lost this functionality on the upgrade to high sierra. No longer able to open multiple files in one preview window. Apple, please fix ASAP!

  14. DFox says:

    Exactly! Not working in High Sierra. Very irritating.

  15. Jan says:

    this does not work on high sierra! i shouldn’t have upgraded the os :(

  16. Al says:

    this option does not work in high sierra update

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