Mac Tip: Annotate screenshots right in Quick Look

Mac: Annotation directly in the Quick Look preview

The so-called annotation of screenshots - adding text, arrows or red boxes to screenshots - is part of my everyday life. Either when I write a post in which I use the screenshots to explain where to click on what, or when I explain to a customer at which point on their website they should make changes to make Google happier.

In the case of e-mails, these comments can be created directly in the "Apple Mail" program, while for articles I have mostly chosen the detour via the "Preview" program on the Mac.

Recently, however, I noticed a much faster way, which I would like to explain to you here.

It is very easy to add notes to screenshots under macOS (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

It is very easy to add notes to screenshots under macOS (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

Quicklook - still an insider tip

In order to understand how I can make the annotations in the screenshots very quickly, one first has to know what "Quick Look" is. This feature of macOS is already relatively old, but I still surprise even veteran Mac users with this practical function.

Quick Look: Mark the file and press the space key

Quick Look is activated by highlighting a file in the Finder and then pressing the space bar. The Mac now opens a quick view of this file so that you can briefly check the content without having to open it in the corresponding app.

This is extremely useful if, for example, you want to take a quick look at a text file or look through a list of image files or PDFs.

Annotation in Quick Look

The next trick, which was even new to me, is a small button that appears in the Quick Look view when you open a graphic or image file.

If you click on this symbol, which resembles a pen tip in a circle, you end up in annotation mode and can add arrows, boxes, ellipses or text.

At the top in the circle you can see the button that can be used to start the annotation mode in Quick Look. At the lower arrow you can still see the "handles" at the ends and in the middle, with which you can change and move each object again.

At the top in the circle you can see the button that can be used to start the annotation mode in Quick Look. At the lower arrow you can still see the "handles" at the ends and in the middle, with which you can change and move each object again.

I've already tried a few tools for annotation under macOS, but I still like the standard tools of the operating system best, because you can draw crooked arrows or lines with the mouse and the Mac turns them into straight or curved arrows or lines.

Caution: no backup!

As convenient as this Quick Look annotation feature is, it should be used with care. Once you have made comments on a screenshot file and left the annotation mode, you can no longer undo these changes. For this reason I always use the keyboard shortcut CMD + D (duplicate) to create a copy of the file that I want to edit.

A quick backup of a file is created on the Mac with the keyboard shortcut CMD + D.

A quick backup of a file is created on the Mac with the keyboard shortcut CMD + D.

Another option for a backup would be to run Time Machine on the Mac. This allows you to always jump back to an older version of the file in which the changes have not yet been made.

If you haven't activated Time Machine yet, you should think about it now at the latest. I've had numerous situations in which this macOS background backup saved my bottom.

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2 comments

  1. Thomas says:

    Great article. If I haven't noticed yet, I'll try it out right away.
    The phrase "Changes [...] to the file cannot be undone" is a little irritating. Perhaps it should be emphasized here that this is about the screenshot file.
    Sunny greetings from Stuttgart

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Hello Thomas! Thanks for the interjection. What other file could it be about if not the screenshot? I read over it again and like to add it if it is so misleading. : D

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