How to Draw on Photos on a Mac

Jul 21, 2017 - 13 Comments

How to draw on pictures in Photos for Mac with Markup

The Mac Photos app has a set of simple drawing tools called Markup which can be used to draw, doodle, sketch, and otherwise markup or write on any picture. Markup in Photos can offer a fun way to scribble on an image, put a remark on a picture, add a blurb, or just to draw a little creative addition to any photo found within the Photos app.

The Markup editing toolkit in Photos on Mac is great, but like many other features, it’s a bit hidden and it’s easy to overlook this feature. This tutorial will show you how to access Markup in Photos for Mac and how to draw on a picture using the tool set.

You can draw on any picture or image file contained with Photos app this way, whether it has been copied from an iPhone or digital camera into Photos, imported into Photos directly, or otherwise contained within the app. If you want to test this out yourself, you may want to make a copy of a picture or just choose a picture you don’t mind doodling on.

How to Draw on Photos in Mac OS with Markup

  1. Open the Photos app in Mac OS and choose which picture you want to draw or markup
  2. Open the Photos app in Mac OS

  3. Click the Edit button, it looks like a series of sliders in the upper right corner of the toolbar
  4. Choose the Edit button

  5. Now click the “Extensions” button in the bottom right corner of the Photos app
  6. Choose the Extensions button

  7. Choose “Markup” from the Extensions popup menu list in Photos app
  8. Choose Markup

  9. Use the Markup tools to draw directly on the photo, there are multiple brush and pen options, as well as shape tools, line thickness adjustments, a text tool and font adjustments, and color options for each markup
  10. Use the markup tools to draw on the picture in Photos for Mac

  11. When satisfied with drawing on your photo, choose “Save Changes” in the upper right corner of Photos app
  12. Save Changes to save your drawing on the photo

  13. Now choose “Done” to if you are finished editing to save the drawing on your photo
  14. Choose Done

Now that you have drawn on a photo, you can keep it in your photos library, export it, share it, email it, message it, save it, or whatever else you want to do with your wonderful creation.

If this set of tools looks familiar to you, it may be because Markup allows you to easily annotate email attachments in Mail for Mac as well, which is very convenient.

While this applies to the Mac, the Markup toolkit in Photos is essentially the same set of utilities you can use to write and draw on pictures in iOS too, but accessing Markup in Photos iPhone and iPad is obviously a bit different than the same Markup toolkit on a Mac.

Have fun drawing on your photos!


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


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Jennifer L Stevenson says:

    I do not have these options in my Photo app. I have an EDIT button (not the hamburger icon). When I click EDIT, I receive all of the same options on the right except for the Extensions option. What gives?

  2. Jane Howitt says:

    Wow! I now have a pic of a cute kitten telling me in a speech bubble “This is FAB!”

    I want to be able to annotate pix of how to do beading, so this will be very useful. Yes, could take a pic, save as pdf and then annotate that … but this cuts out a load of steps.

    So, thanks for the Tip. Never knew Photos could do this.

  3. Nils says:

    Dear Paul.
    Your daily OSX is valuable, thank you so much. I have a question which is not meant for publishing as it has to do with a beta version. I am on 10.13 Beta and have great problems with editing. I can see all the “instruments” like White balance and curves and all the other. The problem is that I don’t seem able to work with them manually. I can click automatic, but I want to overrule light and shadow and color and … I am sure you have access to the Beta version, and hope you could look into this and perhaps bring me and everybody else a solution. Thanks in advance. šŸ˜Š

  4. no way says:

    FFS are we all 5yrs old now? That’s the last time I think I drew on a photo.

  5. Judy W says:

    Doesn’t work for me either…Same version 1.5. I don’t have “sliders”. I installed an extension from Apple, Orion Markup Express, and still couldn’t get anything to work.

  6. NickO says:


  7. Trang says:

    My iPhoto 9.5.1 does not have this editing option, quite a different display of edit choices.

    Which iPhoto version is this ?

    I can get the same drawing with converting the photo to pdf format, then edit.

    • Noah says:

      Photos is different from iPhoto, iPhoto is outdated. Photos is the new default image app for Mac and iOS.

  8. Stetson Hallowell says:

    It doesn’t work like that for me. All is well until I click “Extensions”. Then I get a different dialog box. I see Markup in it but clicking on it results in nothing. I have Photos Version 1.5 (370.42.0) in OS X Version 1.5 (370.42.0)

  9. Michael Graubart says:

    Dear Paul,

    Your instructions mystified me until I realized that in order to make the Edit button appear in the toolbar, it is not enough to select a photo. One has to double-click on it. Perhaps you should send a correction?

    Kind regards,
    Michael Graubart.

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