Add Speech Bubbles to Pictures with Preview in Mac OS X

Oct 5, 2012 - 6 Comments

Add speech bubbles to pictures in Mac OS X

The latest version of Preview app from OS X Mountain Lion onward feature a couple of fun menu items that let you quickly add comic book styled speech bubbles to any photo. It’s extremely easy to use, but it’s also easy to overlook, so here’s how to use them to add some humor to any picture:

  • Open an image in Preview and click the “Show Edit Toolbar” button that looks like a square with a pen in it, or hit Command+Shift+A
  • Click on either the speech bubble icon or the thought bubble icon, then click and drag on the picture to place the bubble
  • Type what you want in the bubble, adjusting the font and size as desired using the Fonts panel

Adding speech and thought bubbles to pictures

Thought and speech bubbles can be moved around and resized just by clicking on them, but once they’re saved they’re stuck in place. You probably don’t want to save a goofy modification over the original photo (even though it’s easy to revert back now), so use Export or Save As to save the styled image instead.

Preview is a surprisingly great app and often underutilized, don’t miss a bunch of our other Preview tips to really appreciate the default Mac image viewer for all it can do.


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


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  1. D.Griffith says:

    Great. Except the ‘Preview” in iOS 10.13.5 (current) looks nothing like the one above at all! Consequently no wiser after 4 hours of scouring the internet trying to find out how to do something that I obviously thought wrongly would be simple on an iMac!

  2. Quenitn Johnson says:

    No longer finding the “thought” bubble in Preview as shown.

    • David Solomon says:

      On my Mac, running MacOS Sierra, in Preview, I found the text bubble feature by pressing Command-Shift-A keys, then clicking the pop-down menu icon that appears as an opaque filled circle on top of the lower right corner of a square (4th icon from the left), and then clicking on the icon halfway down the right column of the pop-down menu. Hope this helps.

      • ExMacEmp says:

        Thats the ‘text’ bubble, not a ‘thought’ bubble.

        Tim Cook wins again (>$140 million/year):

        we get more poop emojis, lip service to tyranny in China, and less features in Apple Applications.

  3. Sven says:

    Looks fun, but I wish that was on the iPhone because I would use it more!

    • Aaron says:

      I agree this would be great on iPhone and iPad because it would be more spontaneous. Should be built into the Photos app under the Edit options.

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