How to: Convert Several Images into a Single PDF Using Preview

 

By Tim Hardwick of MacRumors

Over the years, Adobe’s PDF file type has become a universally accepted method for sharing digital documents. The format’s cross-platform adoption means the documents can be viewed on almost any mobile device or computer, so it’s no surprise to find that macOS includes native support for viewing and creating PDF files.

In the Preview app, for example, it’s possible to create a single multi-page PDF document out of several separate image files. The feature is particularly useful if you need to share a number of scanned documents over email or digitize something for reference. Keep reading to learn how it’s done.

HOW TO CONVERT SEVERAL IMAGES INTO A SINGLE PDF

In Finder, select all the images you want to include in the PDF. To do this, drag a box over several images files using your mouse cursor, or select them individually by holding the Command key and clicking them one by one.

Right-click (or Ctrl-click) one of the highlighted files and select Open With -> Preview in the contextual dropdown menu.

 

In Preview’s sidebar, drag the thumbnail images into the order that you want them to appear in the PDF document. Use the Rotate button in Preview’s toolbar to change the orientation of individual pages (drag a selection over multiple pages to rotate several at once).

In the Preview menu bar, select File -> Print…, or use the Command+P keyboard shortcut to bring up the Print dialog.

Click Show Details to expand the Print dialog and browse the full set of options. Make sure the All button is selected in the Pages options. Note that you can double-check the orientation of each image by clicking the arrows below the print preview, and use the Orientation buttons to correct any if required.

Select Save as PDF from the PDF dropdown menu in the lower left of the Print dialog.

The Save dialog will appear. Give your new PDF a name and choose a save location. Fill in the Title, Author, Subject, and Keywords fields if desired (these details are searchable in Spotlight). The Security Options… button also lets you optionally set a password to open the document, copy from it, and/or print it.

Click Save when you’re done.

Note that the Save as PDF option can be accessed from the Print dialog window within a number of macOS apps, not just Preview. You can use it to create PDFs of web pages viewed in Safari, or Word documents opened in Pages, for example.

 

Do you have any slick Preview tips? Tell us about it in the comments below!!

App of the Week – Adobe launches free document scanning app for Android and iOS

 

By Blair Hanley Frank of VentureBeat.com

Adobe is getting into the mobile scanning game with a new free iOS and Android app aimed at providing users with high-quality images of physical content they want to capture digitally.

It’s called Adobe Scan, and it works similarly to a bunch of other apps already available. Users point their smartphone cameras at whatever document, white board, or presentation screen they want to capture, and the app automatically crops the image to just pick out a document.

The clearest difference between Scan and other apps, like Microsoft Lens, is that the app integrates with Adobe Document Cloud and automatically performs optical character recognition on the PDFs it generates. Users can then copy and paste text from those documents into other files.

But Adobe also put in a lot of work on building machine intelligence into Scan from the ground up, according to Akhil Chugh, a senior product manager for Document Cloud. The app uses a variety of machine learning and image processing algorithms to help deal with the myriad issues that arise with mobile scanning, like trying to differentiate a document from a similarly colored background and figuring out which areas of a document warrant optical character recognition.

“Our goal has been to create a digital document that’s as good as you would get from a flatbed scanner, or as good as the real document,” Chugh said.

Specifically, Adobe is using genetic algorithms (so named because they’re generated by simulating natural selection) to handle document boundary detection. For differentiating text from images, Adobe is using tree- and logistic regression-based classifiers. Those machine learning tools are a part of Sensei, Adobe’s name for its internal ML framework and features.

Adobe is counting on its document expertise and machine learning capabilities to boost Scan in a crowded market. The app is free for people to use, but it requires the creation of a Document Cloud account. Scanned files are stored in Document Cloud automatically but can also be saved to other services.

While it’s possible for Scan to capture images without a network connection, all of the OCR work is handled in Adobe’s cloud. That means text recognition requires sending images of the document over the internet, which may not be an appealing option for some sensitive content.

The launch of Scan is a significant milestone, but Adobe plans to further refine the app over time as part of its Document Cloud portfolio. The company has invested a great deal in handwriting and font recognition, for example, so it’s possible features like that could show up in Scan going forward.

On the machine learning front, the team is investigating how to best implement deep learning in Scan and across Document Cloud. It’s also looking into using generative adversarial networks, which are designed to help create content.

Download Adobe Scan for Android

Download Adobe Scan for iOS

Do you have a favorite scanner app for your phone? Tell us about it in the comments below!

App of the Week – Pixelmator

 

 

Better selective editing and a new Apple Photos extension, the improvements cement Pixelmator’s position as the top affordable alternative to Photoshop.

 

By Jeff Carlson of Macworld

 

As you start moving beyond the basics of editing images—past general exposure and color adjustments—you’ll discover a semi-secret truth: a lot of your time is spent selecting specific areas for editing. Making a foreground object brighter, for instance, can reveal a telltale halo if the selection doesn’t match well with the object.


Selections have traditionally been a strength of Adobe Photoshop, but the granddaddy editor is overkill for many people who don’t need its extensive feature set, or don’t want to pay a Creative Cloud subscription fee (which starts at $10 a month with an annual plan, and can cost up to $80 a month for the full CC suite).

Instead, Pixelmator 3.6 Cordillera (Mac App Store link) has been a popular and inexpensive ($30) Photoshop alternative. The main improvements in version 3.6 make it easier and less time-consuming to create good selections. This version also brings selective editing to Apple’s Photos app by introducing a new Photos Editing Extension, Pixelmator Retouch, that brings many of its retouching tools to images in your Photos library.

Selective service

The challenge when making selections is that there isn’t always a clean line you can follow by drawing with the Lasso tool—and even when there is, defining it by hand is painstaking. Let the software assist in a big way.


The Quick Selection tool (which replaces the Paint Selection tool) detects edges and shadows, and pays attention to the direction the mouse pointer is moving as you drag to figure out which areas to select. In general, the tool does a pretty good job of selecting only the areas I want, even when the tones are similar (like a metal barn roof against a gray cloud background) and when the tool’s brush size was larger than the item being selected. I also like how Pixelmator highlights the sections using a red swath of color, which is immediately identifiable as you work.

Don’t expect the Quick Selection tool to work miracles, though. It will do a good first pass in difficult situations, like hair, but you’ll need to refine the selection later.

 


For areas where you do have well-defined lines, the Magnet Selection tool helps you avoid a lot of work and frustration. Click a starting point and then drag (without holding the mouse button) along the edge of the item you wish to select. The selection automatically clings to edges.

As you might expect, the tool can be thrown off by similar tones, and sometimes it jumps away from where your eyes think it should go. That’s why you can refine the line as you go: click to set a point, press Delete to remove a previous point, and, when the line starts to stray like a puppy learning to walk, hold Option to temporarily switch to the Polygonal Lasso tool and define your own line; doing so doesn’t abandon the magnetic selection work you’ve done so far. Overall, the tool works well and provides plenty of flexibility to make a selection while the Magnetic Selection tool remains active.


Ultimately, making good selections doesn’t happen with just one or two tools. As you do more, you’ll combine the program’s other tools, such as painting in Quick Mask mode and using the Refine Selection command, for better selections. But the Quick Selection and Magnetic Selection tools in Canyon make the process much easier.

It’s worth mentioning that the company has also implemented the Quick Selection and Magnetic Selection tools into Pixelmator for iOS. One of Pixelmator’s strengths is the ability to synchronize editing projects between Mac and iOS, complete with layers and adjustments. Being able to make better selections, especially in a touch interface where you can immediately see what’s being selected, is a helpful addition.

Pixelmator Retouch extension

Most of the editing tools in Apple’s Photos application apply to an entire image, so if you keep your photo library there, you may feel like your options are limited. (Although to be fair, it’s a more powerful editor than most people realize; see “The hidden editing power of Photos for OS X.”)

 

That’s where Photos extensions come in. The new Pixelmator Retouch extension gives you several controls for editing selected portions of a photo, without having to export the image to edit it in the Pixelmator application. Lighten or darken areas, adjust color saturation, heal imperfections or remove unwanted items, clone sections, and sharpen or blur areas.

 

All of the features worked well, although it’s important to note that applying them is additive: If you lighten an area, and then go back over it again with the brush, it will become even lighter. That’s not always a negative, but don’t expect that you can adjust the tone as if it were on its own layer (that’s when you might consider exporting to Pixelmator itself). Also, as with all Photos extensions, when you click Save Changes, the edits are burned in; you can revert the image to its original state, but can’t walk back any recent edits.

General observations

Pixelmator represents that percentage of Photoshop’s features most people actually use on a regular basis. Though it’s not without its quibbles. At the top of my list is erratic application of adjustments.

For example, let’s say I use the Brightness and Contrast control to increase brightness by 10 percent, but then later decide that was too much. When I return to that control, the sliders are set back to zero, so I need to apply a –10 percent brightness adjustment to go back to where I was (assuming I remembered that 10 percent was the amount earlier). Worse, this isn’t consistent; some controls, like Black & White, do provide the last edit values. I look forward to the day when Pixelmator implements real adjustment layers that can be independently edited.

Bottom line

For a large amount of image editing tasks, Pixelmator is an excellent, affordable alternative to Photoshop. Its enhanced selection tools work well and add to its utility, while the Pixelmator Retouch Extension for Photos is a good way to add selective edits while remaining within your Photos library.

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