Daily Tip: iOS-style folders in Mountain Lion

Apple’s iCloud lets you store documents and other files on its servers for sharing across compatible devices. It’s extremely fast and handy, especially if you want to work on one project on several Macs or iOS devices.

On the Mac, compatible applications show a dialog box upon opening that lists documents that are stored in the cloud. There are two views available: list view and icon. While in icon view, you can sort document thumbnails into iOS-style folders. It’s an easy way to keep things organized and quickly find what you’re after. Here’s how.

  1. In the Open window, click icon view in the bottom toolbar.
  2. Your files are presented as thumbnails, along with their titles and modification dates.
  3. To create folder, simply drag and drop on file on top of another.
  4. A new folder appears. By default, it’s named “Folder.” Click the title to customize it.


That’s it! There are a few things to note. First, all documents in the Open window are sorted by modification date, including folders. That means you can’t force folders to always be listed together. You can right-click (or Control-click) on a folder to rename it or duplicate it and its contents. Finally, folders also appear in list view. Double-click the folder itself or single-click the white disclosure triangle to reveal its contents.

This post is part is one of 31 tech tips I published in March, 2013You’ll find the rest here.

Daily tip: Print a PDF right to iCloud

I love OS X’s ability to print to PDF. I often do it with emails that I want to reference or easily share. What’s really great is that, with OS X Mountain Lion, you can print to PDF and send the result directly to iCloud for instant, near ubiquitous access across your compatible devices. Here’s how to print an email as a PDF and send it to Preview via iCloud.

  1. Find the message you’d like to save and click Print.
  2. The Print sheet appears. Select Save As PDF in the lower left-hand corner.
  3. The Save As sheet appears. Select a destination. In this case, choose iCloud from the drop-down menu.
  4. A new sheet appears. Create a title and fill in the rest as desired. Ensure that iCloud (Preview) is selected.
  5. Click Save.
Select Print, then click Save as PDF in the lower left.
Select Print, then click Save as PDF in the lower left.
The Save sheet appears. Pick a title and select iCloud from the drop-down.
The Destination sheet appears. Select iCloud from the drop-down.


A new sheet appears. Fill in as desired and click Save.
A new sheet appears. Fill in as desired and click Save.

That’s it. The next time you launch Preview, select Open from the File menu and click iCloud on the resulting window. Your PDF will be waiting for you.

For extra bonus points, you can password-protect your PDF as you create it. Before clicking Save, click Security Options. You can opt to require a password to view, edit or print the resulting PDF. When you try to open the file on Preview, it will require a password as you’ve directed.

This post is part is one of 31 tech tips I published in March, 2013. You’ll find the rest here.

Preview bug in Mac OS X Lion

I’ve found an annoying bug in Lion’s Preview. If you open an image and select “Export” to save it as a new file format, you must change the file’s name after you select your target format from the drop-down menu. If you don’t, your custom name will revert to the default when you choose the new format.

For example, let’s say I take a screenshot. My Mac names it “Screen shot 2011-09-20 at 10.57.50 PM.”  Next, I open the image in Preview and select “Export” from the File Menu. Then I change the name to something like “safari_screenshot,” and finally select “JPEG” from the format drop-down menu. The name will then revert to “Screen shot 2011-09-20 at 10.57.50 PM.” This was not the case with Snow Leopard.

I hope this gets fixed soon, as I use Preview a lot for simple image editing.

Using Apple’s Preview as an image editor

Recently I was looking for a lightweight image editor. After auditioning great candidates like Acorn and Pixelmator, I realized that Apple’s own Preview offers nearly everything I need. Here’s why and how I’m using Apple’s built-in PDF file viewer.

Nearly every image I post to TUAW must be resized and/or cropped. Often I’ve got to change the file type as well. Frankly, those three functions represent the extent of my image editing needs. I realize that I’m in the minority on this, but surely there are others.

I’ve got Photoshop CS3 on my MacBook Pro, but it’s too powerful a tool for my modest needs. “Like swatting a fly with a Buick,” as my father would say. For years I used ImageWell from Xtralean Software. It’s now at version 3.7.6, and quite different than the old app I used to love. A simple crop, resize and rename isn’t so simple anymore.

Fortunately, Preview makes these tasks a breeze. Here’s how to perform each.


From the Tools menu, select Adjust Size. A slip appears with several options. You can apply a set of pre-determined dimensions to your image, including (in pixels):

  • 320 x 240
  • 640 x 480
  • 800 x 600
  • 1024 x 768
  • 1280 x 1024
  • 1280 x 720
  • 1920 x 1080

You can also create custom dimensions across pixels, percent, inches, cm, mm or points. Finally, you can change the resolution (pixels/inch or pixels/cm), scale proportionally and resample the image.


Click the Select tool in the toolbar and choose Rectangular Selection. The cursor turns into crosshairs. Click and drag to highlight the section you’d like to crop. Finally, select Crop from the tools menu (or hit Command-K).

There are many other options in that Select tool, including an elliptical selection tool, a lasso and a “smart lasso.”

Change file type

From the Save As slip, you can convert your image into any of the following formats:

  • GIF
  • ICNS
  • JPEG
  • JPEG-2000
  • Microsoft BMP
  • Microsoft Icon
  • OpenEXR
  • PDF
  • Photoshop
  • PICT
  • PNG
  • SGI
  • TGA
  • TIFF

At TUAW, I typically use JPG. A slider lets you adjust the final quality or compression (where appropriate) and displays the resulting image’s size.

There’s a lot more to this great piece of software. For example, you can annotate a PDF file by selecting Annotate from the Tools menu or clicking the Annotate toolbar item. This will let you add shapes, text and Sticky Note-like notes.

The color adjustment menu is extremely useful. Use it to adjust an image’s exposure, contrast, saturation, temperature, tint and sharpness, or add sepia.

Finally, the Inspector provides a wealth of information at a glance, like creation and modification dates, DPI, dimensions, resolution and more.

Of course, it can’t compare to the apps I mentioned at the beginning of this post. You can’t work in layers, for example. But don’t dismiss Preview as a mere PDF reader. It’s one of the many useful tools that comes with every Mac. With a little exploration, you’ll find that it’s more powerful than you thought, and maybe all you need.