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I want to rotate an image in preview but I only need to move it a few degrees. Is this possible? Or can you only rotate 90 degrees?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Unfortunately, Preview can only rotate in 90* increments and flip images.

If you want to rotate a different amount, you'll have to use a more-powerful program, like Photoshop or Pixelmator.

From Preview Help: enter image description here

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Thanks. Ended up using Gimp. Was just hoping it was possible without having to open up a whole new program. –  Owen Jul 1 '11 at 17:33

If you're not averse to using the command line you can use the sips command to rotate images. For example…

sips -r 23 --padColor FFFFFF image.jpg

…will rotate image.jpg 23 degrees clockwise and "fill in" the empty space with white. (If you rotate PNGs the alpha channel should be retained.)

Worth reading the man page for sips as it can do other useful stuff.

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Thank you very much! –  boehj May 29 '13 at 2:01

There is a way to do it using Preview, although it is imprecise.

You can use a two finger twisting gesture to arbitrarily rotate the image within preview. Now, it snaps back to normal once you let go, but if you take a screenshot to clipboard while maintaining the rotated view, then paste from the clipboard into preview, then save. Then I open the image again and do a little bit of cropping to get it looking nice.

I mapped the 'screenshot to clipboard' function to a key combination that was easy to hit while maintaining my twist.

Obviously a dedicated app will do the job better, but I thought it was worth mentioning my OS only workaround which I discovered.

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I love the free ToyViewer.app. Can do some cool things with images. Small and fast.

enter image description here

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Now on the Mac App Store, still free: itunes.apple.com/us/app/toyviewer/id414298354?mt=12 –  newenglander Nov 14 '13 at 19:37

Apparently, it used to be possible by holding down the option key while rotating (using the button on the toolbar), at least according to this forum entry from 2005:


But it didn't work for me on OS X Mountain Lion, all the option button did was change the rotation direction (for the rotation button on the toolbar).

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It's possible to do this by copying or opening the object in a separated window, then there you can rotate it. Next, just copy back the object already at the desired position. This is the only way I've found, and works for quick tasks.

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