Mac OS X Preview

Mac OS X Preview

Exploring Mac OS X Preview Hidden Features

Mac users are familiar with Mac OS X Preview mainly because it is your default PDF and digital image viewing software. It typically launches automatically after you download a PDF or digital image file. Preview can identify most digital image formats like BMP, PNG, SGI, TGA and MacPaint as well as your usual suspect JPEG, TIFF, GIF, PSD and PICT images. But what you might not know is how to take advantage of some of it most useful features and unlock some of its hidden potential using Automator. Here are my favorite five Preview features.

Browsing Multiple Image Files at Once
Launch Preview from the Applications folder (Macintosh HD > Applications > Preview ). In the Finder select all the images you would like to see at once. Drag them onto the Preview icon. Preview will open a display window with a Thumbnail Drawer on the side. If you don’t see the drawer there is a Sidebar button at the top that will open it. You can navigate through your images by using the Back and Forward buttons in the Menu Bar at the top or using the up and down arrow keys. If you want a full screen experience press Command-Shift-F key combination and you can access a contact sheet of all your images, navigate, play them as a slide show or add them to iPhoto. To quit either click the “X” at the bottom to quit or press the “ESC” key.

Converting Image Formats
Converting images from one format to another is overlooked action by some users when including images in emails or when posting the to the web. Most email and web software does it for you but there are occasions you might need to perform this action the old fashioned way. Here’s how:

  1. 1. Open the image in Preview.
  2. 2. Go to File > Save As…
  3. 3. Select you desired output format (JPEG, GIF, JPEG 2000, MS Bitmap, OpenEXR, PDF, Photoshop, PICT, PNG, SGI, TGA and Tiff).
  4. 4. Set the desired Quality from Least to Best. (Preview shows you the estimated file size)
  5. 5. Click Save.

Manipulating PDF Pages
You can use Preview to arrange pages, remove unnecessary pages, or even move pages from one PDF file to another. You can also add a blank page if you need to.

To delete a page:

  1. 1. Select View > Sidebar.
  2. 2. Open the Sidebar and choose Thumbnails from the pop-up menu at the bottom.
  3. 3. Select the page to delete.
  4. 4. Choose Edit > Delete.

Move a PDF page:

  1. Choose View > Sidebar.
  2. Choose Thumbnails from the pop-up menu at the bottom of the sidebar.

Using the Sidebar drag the page to its new location.

Combining Multiple PDF Files (10.5 only)
Use Preview to merge two PDFs into one document, start by opening the tow PDFS in Preview.

  1. 1. Choose View » Show Sidebar (or click the Sidebar button at the top of the window).
  2. 2. If possible make sure both PDFs are visible on the screen at the same time, resize if nessary.
  3. 3. In the Sidebar you will see a graphical representation of the pages in each PDF.
  4. 4. Simply drag the page, or pages (use Comand to select multiple pages) from one Sidebar to the Sidebar of another.

Adjust Spotlight Search Zoom Level
When searching for a PDF using Spotlight your resulting PDF file opens up in Preview with your search term highlighted all the way through the document. Although useful the PDF is displayed at 280 percent allowing you to view your term easily, but it is overall this is not very practical. To reduce the overall resulting sizes try making this modification.

  1. 1. Quit Preview if running
  2. 2. Launch Terminal (Applications > Utilities > Terminal).
  3. 3. Type the following after your username prompt:

    username$ defaults write Preview -dict-add PVPDFSpotlightSelectionSize 10

  4. 4. Press Return.

The 10 at the end corresponds to a 100% zoom level. To return to normal, replace this with 28 (280% zoom).

Check out my additional tip on batching images using Automator and Preview.

Repairing Your Primary Startup Disk with Disk Utility

Repairing Your Primary Startup Disk with Disk Utility

Using Disk Utility

Sometimes Apple’s Disk Utility is just not enough to do the job when it comes to repairing your primary drive. Using the Verify Disk Feature in Disk Utility is a great way to get a basic sense of what you are dealing with; unfortunately it’s a bit buggy.

In addition to using disk utility you might also want to try these additional options, running disk utility from the installer DVD or conducting a repair in Single User Mode.

Installer DVD
Starting up from installer DVD that came with your Mac or most recent version upgrade disk gives you access to the repair features found using Disk Utility.

Simply go to the Finder Menu > Select Utilities > Disk Utility.

Single-User Mode
If this is not an option try Single User Mode. On start up hold down COMMAND – S.

Your Mac should start in command-line mode. Fortunately you don’t have to know much about Unix to perform this repair. Once the command prompt appears type:

/sbin/fsck –fy

The output after you take this action should be similar to that when you run Disk Utilty.

It will either end with a successful repair or an error code giving you more of a clue of what to do next.

To exit Single User Mode simply type:



If you are one of those Mac Users that wants to be ready in the case of an emergency and want additional options you might want to install AppleJack. The AppleJack Project is a user-friendly troubleshooting assistant for Mac OS X that you can load in Single User Mode. Once installed you can hold Command – S on startup entering Single User Mode. Then type “applejack” at the prompt. From the list of menu-based options select “repair disks” to start the repair process or select additional repair options.

Bootable Drive
Another forward thinking option is a start up from a secondary bootable drive that should have first aid utilities installed. Other than Disk Utility the drive should have something like Alsoft DiskWarrior 4.1 or Micromat TechTool Pro 5 for Mac installed.

Safe Boot
Holding down the Shift key at startup. Your Mac will perform routine called a Safe Boot that runs a directory check similar to Repair Disk but without the feedback. Keep in mind that without the feedback you can confirm if your Mac needed repairs and what were completed, but if it gets you running again it might not matter.

Nothing Working
If nothing works your might have to resort to a robust repair utility program such as Alsoft DiskWarrior 4.1 or Micromat TechTool Pro 5 for Mac. If you have AppleCare Micromat TechTool Pro 5 for Mac comes on the disk or you just might want to call for help at this point. If you don’t have AppleCare or are out of your warranty you might have to take it to a certified technician or try TechRestore – Specializing in overnight repairs and upgrades for MacBooks, PowerBooks & iBooks.

Using Speakable Items in Mac OS X

Using Speakable Items in Mac OS X

Get Mac OS X Talking

Speakable Items in Mac OS X can make you feel like your a Sci-Fi movie hero able to talk to your super computer. Even Michael Knight got to talk to his car KITT! So why shouldn’t you be able to talk to your Mac. Well you can, introduced in OS 9 in 1993 Apple’s Speech was ahead of its time. It went missing during the early OS X years and reemerged in Jaguar Mac OS X 10.2.

This great tool is located in your System Preferences under System > Speech. Simply activate it by turning “ON” Speakable Items and you can give up typing, get rid of your mouse, yell at you computer as much as you want and still have it talk to you.

Speech is built-in right at the core of Mac OS X, there is no need to install a special application or devices to make it work. The following are some tips to help you get started using Speakable Items.

Speech Commands Window
Once launched the Speakable Items, a small round window with a microphone image, will appear hovering over your desktop. Click the triangle at the bottom of the window and choose “Open Speech Commands window.” You can also press or speak the listening key, ESC by default, and speak the command “Open Speech Commands window” or “Show me what to say.”

Adding Applications and Troubleshooting
If you want to add applications all you have to do is launch the application with Speakable Items enabled and it will create a folder inside the Speakable Items folder in your user directory under Library/Speech/Speakable. You can add commands to an application by opening the Speakable Items folder and drag items or an alias into the folder. The filename of the item is the command you say to open it, but be sure to follow the guidelines for naming speech commands.
If you have reinstalled an application and it is not responding to your commands you may need to recreate a Speakable Items folder for that application. To do this simply:

  1. 1. Close the application and open the Library/Speech/Speakable Items folder in your home folder.
  2. 2. If you have reinstalled the application drag the application’s folder from the Speakable Items folder to your desktop.
  3. 3. Open the application again (this creates a new folder for it inside the Speakable Items folder).
  4. 4. Drag the spoken commands out of the old application folder on your desktop and into into the new folder inside the Speakable Items folder.

After you add a command to an application’s Speakable Items folder, wait about 20 seconds before using the command. Make sure the name you give your command is different from any other command in that application’s Speakable Items folder.

Adding Scripts
To create a Speakable Item AppleScript command for an application open the application that you want to create an AppleScript for. Make sure the application window is at the front of all other windows on your screen. Tip: It is better to close all open applications and just work with the one that you are working in AppleScript with. With AppleScript open follow these steps to create the Speakable Item command:

  1. 1. Click on Record in AppleScript.
  2. 2. Launch the Application, a folder is created for it inside the Library/Speech/Speakable Items folder in your home folder, if not already present.
  3. 3. The ‘tell application’ part of the scrip should have been written. Next perform the actions you’d like to do in the application you opened, and then save it as a compiled script.
  4. 4. The filename you give the script will be the command you’ll speak to use it. (Remember to follow the recommended guidelines for naming spoken commands.)

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