PDF on a Mac – Apple’s Preview Review

ONE of my big concerns when I first moved to the Mac a year and a half ago, was what I would do for a Portable Document File (PDF) reader. I just never really liked Adobe’s PDF Reader and had looked for several years for an alternate for my PC.  I tried several others before I eventually chose Nitro PDF Professional as my PDF software.  However, Nitro is not available for the Mac and from what I knew at the time Adobe Reader was the only PDF software for the Mac and I used it for the first three months or so.

Boy was I in for a surprise when my tech integrator heard me complaining about not being able to fill in a PDF form and a couple of other complaints. She just said why don’t you use Preview.  I didn’t know what she was talking about, I thought the only thing Preview did was preview documents from my email.  I WAS WRONG.


Pages is a one of the programs that comes with the Apple Operating System and there really is not an effort from Apple to promote this product or what it does.  When I first started using Preview, I went to Apple.com and didn’t find a lot of information about it there.

I found out that Pages does a lot more than just Preview documents and pictures in an email. I think part of my problem initially when I bought my Mac about this software was the name – Preview. Especially when it does so much more than what the name indicates that it does.

So what does it do?

PDF Reader

Preview reads PDF’s like a charm, it opens large documents quickly and is able to Annotate (add text, highlight, add arrows).  It does everything that I need or expect PDF reader software to do.
The one thing I don’t like is that when you bookmark in a large document, it is not just for that document, it holds all of your  that you have made from any document. Which is a pain, if you have made multiple bookmarks in a lot of different documents.  If there is a way to change the settings so that it only bookmarks for a single document I haven’t found it yet, so if there is a way to do this please let me know.
With a Mac’s ability to “print” to PDF and the number of PDFs that others create, I use the PDF function of Preview daily for class and personal use.  So far I haven’t been disappointed with how Preview performs.

Preview Documents/Pictures

When looking at a file on my desktop (or elsewhere), in Apple Mail or Safari I can “preview” read or view a document/picture.  This way I do not have to actually open it up using a word processor or photo software, which saves time and allows me to decide quickly whether I need or want to save something to my laptop.  I use it quite often, almost daily.

Import From a Scanner

This is a function that I really didn’t think that I would use that much, but over the past year when I need to fire up my scanner for class or to scan a document at home, it is the software I open to use them? It is a simple interface and I have gotten accustomed to how it functions. The best thing is I don’t have to load or figure how to use each scanner that I am scanning documents or pictures from, I simply plug in and start scanning and I haven’t had any issues with the five scanners that I have tried so far.

Take a Screen Shot

I use this from time to time, but it is not a primary function that I use Preview for. It is inconvenient to quickly get to it, which is what I want from a screen shot program, but it is a function that can be used. Actually this is a part of the program that if they left it out in the next update, I don’t really think that too many people would notice that it wasn’t an option any longer and eliminate some code.  There are simply too many other choices that are quicker and easier to use i.e. Skitch, Jing, etc. for desktop screen capture tools and all the browser based screen shot applications that meet my needs better.

Picture Editing

Some very basic picture editing and resizing, but it does leave the image pixalated if you attempt to resize too far in either direction.

The reality is

that I use Preview almost daily and that I deleted Adobe Reader off my MacBook last summer and haven’t missed at all. Preview does what I want from a PDF reader software and more. The only things that come to mind as far what I would like to see included in Preview; would be the ability to add a digital signature to a document and limit bookmarks to the document you set the bookmark for. Otherwise as the Apple saying goes “it just works” for me.


Personally, I don’t use any other PDF reader for my Mac and not having to load and figure out different software for whatever scanner I am using is an added benefit.  Preview has met my needs and I use some of the other little features, that just seem to come in handy, sort of like a Swiss Army knife.
I personally use Preview daily and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that others use it.

I give it a 4 of 5.