How to Rotate Images in MacOS from Finder the Fast Way

Sep 2, 2019 - 9 Comments

How to rotate images in Finder of Mac OS quickly

The latest versions of MacOS include an handy feature that allows you to quickly rotate images directly from the Finder, without having to open any other application like Preview or Photos. This image rotate capability comes as a Finder Quick Action and it can be accessed anytime from the Column view, Icon View, or List views in the Mac Finder.

This article will show you how to quickly rotate images on the Mac directly from the Finder.

Note this Rotate via Finder feature requires MacOS Mojave 10.14 or later.

How to Rotate Images Directly in Finder on Mac with Column View

  1. From the Finder in Mac OS, navigate to the folder containing the image you wish to rotate
  2. Choose to display the Finder window in Column view (or use ‘Show Preview’ in the View menu to enable the Preview Panel in Icon and List view*)
  3. Select the image you want to rotate, then click on “Rotate Left” in the Preview panel
  4. How to rotate an image directly in Mac Finder

As you likely guessed, the default for “Rotate Left” is a 90 degrees rotation to the left, but you can click the button again to effectively flip an image upside-down and rotate it vertically 180 degrees, and you can click it yet again to rotate it 270 degrees. Of course you can also rotate it yet again to rotated it a full 360 degrees and effectively undo the image rotation as well.

Rotating an image in the Finder

Speaking of undo, you can immediately undo the image rotate with Command Z (Undo command) as usual.

This Finder Rotate tool is really useful and should be particularly helpful to anyone who works with images, whether you’re a photographer (amateur or professional), web worker, office worker, graphic designer, or really anyone else who finds themselves needing to rotate a picture quickly.

Of course you can also still rotate pictures on Mac with Preview, which also allows for other options like resizing images too, whereas the Finder Rotate Left tool is simply for rotating a selected image quickly and not aimed at providing other capabilities or image editing adjustments.

The Finder Rotate tool can also work with multiple images if they’re of the same file type too. If you want to apply rotations to large groups of images, a better use is probably to batch rotate a group of images on the Mac you’ll want to use Preview, or the command line with a tool like sips, or an Automator script if you’ve created one for image modifications.

* If you wish to access the Rotate Left tool in any Finder view other than Column view, you must show the Preview panel in Mac Finder windows via the “View” menu. This works with Icon View and with List View, and with the Preview panel visible you will have access to the Rotate feature.

Show the Preview Panel in Mac Finder window Icon or List view

Know of any other handy tips or tricks for rotating images quickly in the Finder, or for Finder Extensions on the Mac? Share with us in the comments below!


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


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  1. Larry M says:

    This only works for jpeg’s—not RAW/.NEF images.
    And, Preview will not rotate RAW/.NEF images either without converting them to TIFF’s. I know Mac OS is slipping when one can accomplish this task in Windows 10.

  2. mark van den bergen says:

    I found a bug with this method.
    When I upload the rotated file to google drive, they are squished, and not rotated.
    I guess apple is doing something in metadata to achieve the rotation (that google drive can not understand), rather than actually rebuilding the rotated image.

  3. Michael Spencer says:

    I am beside myself! And not only Rotate, but…wait for it… Trim! And make PDF!

    And I wonder when that lovely little feature appeared? Finding features in a program or device used daily for decades is just one of those little unexpected gifts the Universe sends us from time to time…

    So… a usable tip! I read this page each day, recognizing that lots of new users come here to learn the tricks the rest of us got from “MacWeek”, and similar, back in the day. As an old timer, thanks again for this.

  4. Torben says:

    And you can of course press the alt-button on the keyboard if you want to rotate the image right.

  5. Stephen Weil says:

    Unless I missed it, you failed to mention that holding down the “Option” key and clicking the rotate icon will reverse the rotation feature…much easier than rotating three times to 270º.

  6. John Zehr says:

    Is there any way to access Google Drive or Google Docs directly they the Finder? If I right click on a file on my desktop, I can save it to Dropbox but I can’t seem to find a way to get GDrive to show up in my Finder.

  7. Paul Manuel says:

    Regarding rotating images in the Finder, it’s worth noting that holding down the Option key changes the default from Rotate Left to Rotate Right

  8. ibt says:

    How about rotating images from the keyboard?
    cmd R rotates right
    cmd L rotates left

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