Convert a PDF to JPG with Preview in Mac OS X

Dec 13, 2011 - 31 Comments

Convert a PDF file to JPG

Preview 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 default PDF viewer in Mac OS X, and as such it can be used to easily convert any PDF file to a JPG, while still preserving the appearance and structure of the PDF.

Assuming you haven’t installed Adobe Acrobat Reader, Preview will be the default PDF viewer in Mac OS X. If it’s not, open the file in Preview anyway.

  • Launch Preview from the /Applications/ folder and open the PDF that needs to be converted
  • Pull down the “File” menu and select “Export” (if you mapped Export to the “Save As” shortcut just hit Command+Shift+S)
  • From the ‘Export As’ window, click the contextual menu next to “Format” and choose “JPEG”
  • Adjust the quality or resolution if necessary, and then hit “Save”

Export PDF as a JPG to convert it

That’s all there is to it, the new JPG will be in the same directory as the PDF it came from unless you specified otherwise.

Thanks for the tip idea Shawnie


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


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  1. ben miller says:

    great tip thanks

  2. Tala says:

    Thank you !!

    I wish I learned this long time ago.

  3. Jcar says:

    how refreshing to get such simple instructions that actually work! THANK YOU!

  4. lina says:

    you are awesome my friend, you are awesome.

  5. Daniel says:

    Preview- thumbnails did not work for me. Only printed first page, even when I selected all pages.

    However, I could click on each page and export it as a separate jpg. so I have 4 jpgs, each a numbered page of the original pdf.

    It’s a one-time need, so I won’t brave the script just yet.

  6. Ian says:

    Very easy, thanks!

  7. Peter says:

    When I used this method on a .png that was just an image created by an ad agency, the resolution was rough, especially on text. I found that Gimp (open source photo editor) was a much better way to import a .pdf and then create an excellent resolution .png file, not to mention an excellent way to crop and modify the image.

    • Pete Gowdy says:

      I’ve had the same problem. Losing all the resolution is not a valid solution.
      I will try Gimp. Thanks.

  8. Nate says:

    Thanks for the info about converting to PDF. Is there a way I can convert the text so that I can use the highlighter? I haven’t figured out a way to do so, but believe it can be done. Thanks for the help!

  9. Terence says:

    Same problem and same question as Ted above: Any answers?

  10. Ted Killian says:

    I am a graphic designer at an ad agency. Because of the shear volume of work I need to pass off some smaller tasks that I had previously been doing myself to others in the office who are less graphically adept and software equipped (they don’t have all of the Adobe programs I have to do the job as I do it). All they have to work with, at present, is Mac Pages, Preview, and Acrobat Reader.

    The task at hand is making discount coupons for use on a website. I have created a perfect template for the coupon in the Mac “Pages” program so these other people can easily input deals and offers themselves with the type all properly styled and in place, and then save the document as a PDF. The trouble is, the web site needs the coupons to be uploaded as JPEGs of a certain very specific size and resolution.

    Preview can open and export PDFs to JPEGs very easily and this scheme would seem to be perfect for these people. However, the JPEGs that Preview makes (even at the best quality setting) are not quite good enough, and (worse) come out the wrong size – exactly twice the size that the website needs them to be. I can easily fix this in Photoshop, but the other staff do not have that option.

    Is there another PDF to JPEG converter out there (other than Photoshop) that will give precise control over output quality and size (specific XX pixels by XX pixels ratios). I haven’t found one yet. So far all of these PDFs are making are coming back to me for the final JPEG creation process. To be efficient, and profitable, these other folk need to take me out of the loop – plus I have much more important things to do.

    Any help that you have to offer would be appreciated.

  11. Maureen says:

    Does not work for me…only gives PDF as a format option. Boo!

  12. Gee says:

    If you click print and on the print screen click on the pdf button it will help save you to pdf. Further this method saves it to a much smaller pdf size than the one that is recommended in this article. Hope this helps.

  13. Nate Collins says:

    Great! Thank you – this is exactly what I was looking for!

  14. Erin says:

    Thank you – worked a treat! you just saved me sooo much time!

  15. Ibrahim says:

    Easy instruction. Thanks.

  16. bo says:

    ‘Make Sequential.’

    I cannot find this,
    where is it located?


  17. […] also worth considering converting the PDF to a JPG or other image format if you don’t need to print out the resulting document. This can be done for free with Preview […]

  18. Thanks for the instructions. Will pass it on to others.

  19. sofia says:

    And is it possible to convert to .jpg all .pdf files in a directory at once?
    Can I call Preview in a shell script?

  20. Brian says:

    Was having this same problem, but wanted an easy to make multipage PDF to multipage Jpeg in one file. You have to change the view in Preview to Thumbnails, then export to JPEG and it will capture all the pages, not just the first one.

    • Marti says:

      Brilliant!! Thank you! I’m glad I found your response, you saved me a few hours of trying to figure out to get that 2nd page to convert!!

    • Pat says:

      I tried this but it did not work for me. The first time I tried it, I just selected View Thumbnails. The resulting .jpg was still only the first page. I tried a second time and selected all in the thumbnail view and still only got the first page. Continuing to research.

    • Giles says:

      Me too – fantastic! Thank you!

    • Nedda says:

      But can it do the reverse?

      • MacKarsen says:

        The reverse can be done by ‘Printing’ the .jpeg.

        In the ‘Print’ window lower left corner is PDF ‘pop-up’ button. Select this, and choose ‘Save as PDF.’

        This is not limited to Preview, it can be done with any application.

  21. it can convert one page of a PDF file
    is there a way to convert all pages of a PDF file?

    • MacKarsen says:

      Snow Leopard Preview would convert multiple page PDFs to single page JPEGs. I used this feature. It is broke in Lion. Please Apple, bring it back!

      The best fix I found is an automator script. Open Automator and use 3 scripts, ‘Render PDF pages as JPEG’, ‘Copy Finder Items’, and ‘Make Sequential.’

      I have never done an Automator script, but it is easy. The result is an Automator icon I labeled as ‘Multi Page PDFs to JPEGs.’ Then I can drop a PDF onto icon, and the results appear with in folder I called, ‘Multi Page PDFs.’

      • Ruthmarie says:

        I did something similar – thanks to you. The scripts that you had were not exactly available. but I did the following:

        1. Compress images in PDF documents – used JPEG compression set a little below medium.
        2. Copy Finder Items – and then I added a folder of choice.

        Thanks to you I was able to make a 28Mb file mailable at 16Mb without a major decrease in quality which is what I found when I put it in preview and compressed there.

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