How to use Preview for Basic Image Editing: Remove Backgrounds and Extract Shapes

By Alexia Petrakos

Preview has always had image editing features, however you could only access them by creating workflows in Automator. Now, with the release of Mac OS 10.5 (aka Leopard), you can do most image editing without a heavyweight image editing program in Preview which is included with Mac OSX. This article focuses on Removing Backgrounds two ways and saving your image in different formats.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer running Mac OSX Leopard
  • A photo to edit

Getting Started

Step 1

Launch Preview, located in your Applications directory.

Step 2

Open the photo you'd like to edit by going to "File" > "Open" (or keyboard shortcut Apple Command Key-O).

Step 3

Click the Plus or Minus signs to zoom in or out of your image to fit it comfortably on the screen.

Remove the Background of Your Image

Step 1

Click on and hold down the dashed square in Preview's toolbar.

Step 2

Select "Instant Alpha."

Step 3

Click and drag your mouse to select areas of the image you want to remove. Keep doing this until you have the entire background selected.

Step 4

Option - drag to correct your mistakes and add back to the image.

Step 5

Press "Return" to crop the image.

Extract a Shape from Your Image

Step 1

Click on and hold down the arrow above "Select" in the Preview toolbar.

Step 2

Select "Extract Shape."

Step 3

Click-drag your mouse around the shape you want to extract from your image.

Step 4

Refine the outline of the shape until you've selected the shape you want to extract.

Step 5

Hit the "Return" Key.

Save Your Image in Different File Formats

Step 1

Go to "File" > "Save As" on the top menu of Preview.

Step 2

Give your image a name in the "Save As" field.

Step 3

Select "Where" your image will be saved.

Step 4

Select your "Format." Remember, JPEGs are for pictures, GIFS are for images with large, flat areas of color. You can also save as PNG, PDF, PSD, Bitmap, GIF and a few other formats.

Step 5

Use the slider to increase or decrease the quality of the image if you're saving as a JPEG.

Step 6

Click "Save."