MacMost Now 207: Using Preview to Cut Out Part of a Photo

Use the Preview application that comes with Mac OS X to cut out a person or object from a photo and make the rest transparent. You can use this to make better images for social network profiles, Pages documents or Keynote presentations.

Comments: 43 Responses to “MacMost Now 207: Using Preview to Cut Out Part of a Photo”

    Ronny Fugmann
    11 years ago

    Excelent!

    I really didn’t know you could do something like that with Preview – this is one application that is constantly underestimated.

    Thanks for your let’s-show-you-how-it’s-done-video! :)

    Dick Franks
    11 years ago

    A fun unexpected surprise. Thanks.

    I showed it yesterday to an Apple One-to-One Instructor who was mildly astonished: “Preview can do that!”

    11 years ago

    Thanks MacMost! This episode has helped me VERY much!

    K Tyalor
    10 years ago

    how do you open the photo on preview to edit. it does not give the options you have explained?
    Thks so much

      10 years ago

      Many ways. Run Preview and then choose File, Open. Drag and drop the file onto the Preview app (in the finder or doc). Ctrl+click on the file and choose Open With and then select Preview as the app.

    Julia Harryman
    10 years ago

    Thank you, I messed with this for hours on my own and was unsuccessful until I found your video. Great job!

    Cori
    10 years ago

    That was invaluable advice…I have been on the internet for hours trying to figure out how to cut-out photos!

    Oli
    10 years ago

    Really useful, thanks very much!

    Christine
    10 years ago

    What if I want to cut a hole out of an image so that the area inside the whole is transparent as well as the background? I am scanning the image of an actual CD to be used as the CD art for iTunes since I do not have the album cover. Thanks.

      10 years ago

      You could do that as well by selecting the area and deleting it. Or, in your case you could just fill it with white.

    zee
    9 years ago

    what if i want to take out a peice but i dnt want it transparent i just want that chunk of the image gone? like when i save it is still has just a white area wherei wanted to cut out

      9 years ago

      It depends on what you want to use it for. For most purposes, like uploading to sites, it will just fill with white.

    schtoferi
    8 years ago

    running Preview on 10.6.7, the smart lasso is still available but: you have to continously press the mouse button, as soon as you release the selection will be “closed” to the starting point. And there’s no option to refine the selection. Too bad, because this was a nice feature in my opinion. Or am I missing something?

      8 years ago

      Right. It looks like they replaced Extract Shape with Smart Lasso. Same thing, but you can’t add to the Smart Lasso like you could with Extract Shape.

    erin
    8 years ago

    i can not find the tools button

      8 years ago

      Tools button? There is no tools button. What are you looking for?

      Daniel McKinney
      8 years ago

      I think what you’re looking for is the Select dropdown menu. It confused me too. When he hits the Select icon, he’s actually holding down the mouse rather than just clicking. That’s how you get it to come down.

    Daniel McKinney
    8 years ago

    I had no idea you could do that! That’s fantastic! Thank you!

    Ben
    8 years ago

    Gary I have a problem. How do you delete the red areas? I’m really confused on this.

      8 years ago

      After you have selected an area in an image, press the Delete key on your keyboard.

    Ben
    8 years ago

    Well even with Smart lasso once I complete the circle the red band will disappear and I can’t adjust the dots.

    snaker1194
    8 years ago

    When i try to use these tools, it just put a funny looking silver line instead of making the area white :( help please thanks :)

      8 years ago

      Not sure why it would do that. What version of Mac OS X and which version of Preview are you using? Are you trying it with an image file (not a PDF or something else)?

    Doug
    8 years ago

    I am using OS 10.6.8 and preview 5.0.3

    Why don’t I have the Extract shape tool you show in the video?

      8 years ago

      This video is from February, 2009. Extract Shape has now been replaced by Smart Lasso.

        Doug
        8 years ago

        I liked the feature where you can fine tune the shape in extract shape after drawing the line. Does smart lasso do that…..and if so how?

          8 years ago

          I doesn’t appear to do that, no.

            FrenchDude
            8 years ago

            Hmm, this is the exact info I was looking for when I stumbled on this video and this comment thread. I also miss the feature that lets you can fine tune your selection before validating it. Does “smart lasso” bring anything new that “Extract shape” didn’t do?
            Maybe it’s worth digging and try to run Preview from Leopard :-) What version of Preview was that?

            Cheers for the video, one of the most useful tips I’ve read or seen!

    mira
    8 years ago

    i learnt how to cut figure from different imgae .. now can somebody help me with – after getting different figure from different image .. how to merge them in one image?? thanks in advance..

      8 years ago

      Copy and paste, basically. Select and copy from one image, then switch to the other image and paste it in there.

    James
    8 years ago

    Brilliant!!
    Thank you from sunny Cape Town
    James

    Damian
    8 years ago

    Gary,

    I have to say that now every time I need to do something like this on my mac, this is the first site I come for advice, and always learn something new.
    I was trying to do a multi-image photo for a new site I’m throwing together, and I wanted simplicity without having to open up photoshop. This tip works perfectly!!!
    For those using lion, it also works, but a little different.
    First you select the area using the smart lasso, and then you crop the image or click on Command+K. Same effect.

    Thank you so much for this very useful website and for actually doing every-day tips that regular users need to know for working with their macs. You are a true internet gem.

    Damian

    Sunniva
    8 years ago

    I’ve just scanned a bunch of photos, and it came up in preview documents four at a time. I want to cut out each picture but can’t figure out how to do it. When I crop a picture the one enxt to it disappears.

      8 years ago

      Many ways. Like: Select and copy one of the four. Start a new document with what you have in the clipboard. Save. Repeat.

    Sofia
    8 years ago

    This helped a lot! The thing that would be most helpful is that you didn’t say if it worked for all Macs. I have an older version, I think Tiger. Does it work on Tiger? Cause no matter how hard I try, it’s not working.

      8 years ago

      Each version of OS X has added more to Preview. Tiger is very old at this point. I’m pretty sure this functionality didn’t appear until Leopard at least.

    Tim Aych
    8 years ago

    Thanks for this – really helpful :-)
    Please could someone add how I can get rid of the white background though? I cut out an image from a busy background ok, but then when I saved the image and pasted it on to another, there was a large white square around it.

    Please can anyone help?

    Thanks :-)

      8 years ago

      Follow the steps in the video carefully to get a truly transparent image.

    Tomas
    7 years ago

    I love you, you helped me so much.
    Clear video!

    Brenna
    7 years ago

    For a mom who constantly tries to create invitations and party signs for my son without any computer training or programs to do so, your videos have been a Godsend to me! My son will be very happy with the images of Disney’s CARS that I was able to make transparent!

    dobena
    7 years ago

    so i have a mac air bought 2011… i have downloaded pages – in the preview i have it does not have the instant alpha in the selection tools…

    do i have to download something?

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