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Getting Ready for Mountain Lion: Preview

Preview, the app that lets you view pictures and read PDFs in OS X, is one of Apple's unsung heroes. There's so much you can do with this app. It goes far beyond simply looking at images.

  • It's a minimal image editor. You can crop your pictures, reorient them, and export them to new formats.
  • It's a multi-format viewer. You can use Preview to read Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files.
  • It's a PDF masterpiece. You can annotate PDFs, reorder pages, and add bookmarks.

And that's all pre-10.8 behavior! You can do all that now, today, in Lion.

Mountain Lion brings a bunch of new enhancements to Preview, taking a valuable little app and putting it on steroids. To start, you get all the standard ML built-in sharing, so you can share your images and PDFs to Messages, AirDrop, Mail, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. This greatly simplifies the path from importing and previewing images to sharing them directly with family, friends, and colleagues.

Next, Preview for Mountain Lion adds in iCloud support. You'll be able to load and save images directly into the cloud for access from any of your Apple devices, mobile or desktop.

But it's the PDF updates that really make the new Preview shine. Continuing to roll in Acrobat-style PDF editing, Preview will soon allow you to fill out PDF forms by auto-detecting those areas that are intended for text entry. Preview will find underlining and boxes, and will let you click and type to add your text. It also supports checkboxes.

Once you've filled out your form, you should be able to to use Preview's existing signature support feature to sign your PDFs.

But that's not all. Preview will let you search through notes and highlights, either by author or by content. That's a huge win for anyone who collaborates with others, and may need to find annotations in large documents on a per-person basis. Apple promises that adding inline notes will be much easier as well; "Click the area where you want to add the comment and start typing. When you're done, the text is hidden. Click to read the comment."

Finally, the updated version of Preview will allow you to scan images and forms directly into existing PDF documents, so you can group pages and related material together, as you scan them.

I spend a lot of time during my work-week using Preview. I can't wait to get started using these features.

For many new Mac owners, your move to Mountain Lion represents your first major upgrade. To help users prepare to make the jump, Steve Sande and Erica Sadun wrote Getting Ready for Mountain Lion, an Amazon/iBooks eBook. It's aimed at first-time upgraders and people looking for hints and tips about smoothing the transition. We're sharing some of our tips on TUAW in a series of posts about the 10.8 upgrade. OS X Mountain Lion will be offered for sale in July 2012 for $19.99.

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