How to Rotate Photos on Mac with Photos App

Apr 6, 2020 - 10 Comments

How to rotate photos on Mac in Photos app

If you use the Photos app on Mac to manage your photo libraries, you may occasionally need to rotate a picture or two in your collection. Perhaps you snapped a photo in horizontal landscape mode but you meant it to be vertical in portrait, or maybe you just want to rotate a picture for some other reason.

Rotating photos on the Mac is very easy within the Mac Photos app, as you’ll quickly see in this tutorial.

How to Rotate an Image in Photos for Mac

  1. Open the Photos app for Mac if you have not done so already
  2. Photos app icon in Mac OS X

  3. Locate the picture you want to rotate, then select that photo
  4. How to rotate a picture in Photos on Mac

  5. Look in the Photos toolbar for the rotate button and click on that to rotate the image once, counterclockwise
  6. How to rotate images in Photos on Mac

  7. Optionally, click the rotate button again to rotate the image yet again, each click of the rotate button will rotate the photo 90° counterclockwise

That’s all there is to it, no need to save any changes or do anything else, the photo is instantly rotated in the Photos app and will stay rotated to the orientation you modified the image to be.

The nice thing about that particular approach is that you can rotate as many photos you want as long as they are selected, so you can technically rotate multiple pictures using that same trick as long as you select multiple pictures in the Photos app.

Rotating a Picture in Mac Photos in Single Image View Mode

Another way to rotate a photo is when viewing it directly in single image viewer mode within the Photos app on Mac. Again just look for the “Rotate” button in the toolbar and click on it until the image is rotated to the desired orientation:

How to rotate photos on Mac Photos app

Just as before, the image rotation will save automatically and there’s no need to manually do anything else.

If you have experience with rotating photos on iPhone or iPad in the Photos app for iOS and iPadOS then this should be fairly intuitive to you, since it’s a fairly similar process.

There are other ways to rotate pictures on the Mac too however, including rotating pictures in Preview on Mac, or even rotating multiple pictures with Preview (which is my preferred method for rotating any photos that are not in my personal photo library), or even rotating pictures via Finder on Mac by using Quick Actions feature in modern MacOS releases. So if you don’t use the Photos app much for whatever reason, there are numerous other options out there to rotate your images as you see fit.

Rotation of media is not just limited to photos and still images by the way, you can also rotate video on the Mac easily as shown here using QuickTime, or iMovie, or another video editing app, so if you have a movie file you want rotated you can do that too.

Do you know of another easy or helpful way to rotate pictures, images, photos, or other media on the Mac? Share your thoughts, tricks, and experiences in the comments below.


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


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  1. Michael Winn says:

    There have been no responses to how to rotate a photo just a few degrees. The “wheel” that used to be part of “crop” is no longer there.

    Is there a solution?

  2. Michael Winn says:

    Lots of dated advice how to rotate a picture or video 90 degrees, but I need to rotate photos just a few degrees. There used to be a wheel under “Crop”, but it’s not there now.

    What do we do now?

  3. Peter Ashford says:

    Carsten’s comment is valuable and appreciated. I always need (and often) to rotate saved photos clockwise. This means rotating them 3 times anticlockwise ! ! !

    Why doesn’t Apple provide a direction option without needing to resort to such a hidden method that users are unlikely to discover?

    • Carsten Thomsen says:

      The Cmd L and R commands work in Preview, not in the Photos App. In Photos Cmd L is “hide” and Cmd R is Rotate, but to the Left! as indicated by the icon. Option Cmd R Rotates to the right.

      To further clarify, the Option Cmd keys can be used with the R key, or with a mouse click on the Rotate icon in Photos.

      Finally, the online Help guide for Photos lists all the shortcuts. However, these days we hardly read official user guides which gives a lot of business for web pages revealing Apple secret tips and tricks;-)

  4. Gareth Jordan says:

    Keyboard commands:
    [Command] + [R] rotates the photo to the left
    [Option] + [Command] + [R] rotates photo to the right

  5. Mike Sanders says:

    Or simply cmd R or L just as it has been since the beginning of time.

  6. Carsten Thomsen says:

    Pressing alt will change the direction of rotation.

    • joe says:

      option. only past windoze users use the name “alt” . #macTrueBlood. :D :P

      • Carsten Thomsen says:

        Give me a break! I’ve used Mac’s since Lisa i.e. Pre-Mac, so I think my blood is fairly true ;-)

        And the Mac keyboard has both the alt and option text on that key.

        Have a great day.


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