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?

  • If the source of the image is a scan, next time you can use Image Capture to scan and in IC there is an option to rotate before the scan is finalized. It is weird that IC has that function but Preview doesn't. – d-b Oct 16 '18 at 9:03

11 Answers 11


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
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    Use Apple's Photos app. Select the Crop editing option and the degrees will show on the right side of the image. Drag your mouse on the degrees to rotate the image. – Russ Van Bert Sep 30 '18 at 5:33

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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    neat, didn't seem to take negative angles so had to go into the hundreds. :-) – PatrickT Feb 15 '16 at 8:17
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    Marvelous. I wonder why something so basic is not available in Preview app. @PatrickT: It works for negative angles too. – Ébe Isaac Jul 26 '16 at 8:23
  • this put backgrund color – Saad Aug 6 '18 at 14:31
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    In my case, it took negative numbers using a minus, but it has to be a least two digits, like -08. Thank you for the advise! just one thing: link to man page does not work for me. – leon Feb 27 at 1:41

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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    Wow maybe someone at apple read this because it is now a (somewhat hidden) feature in preview. Simply cut and paste an image and you can use the two finger twisting gesture to rotate the image. – Henry Nov 8 '15 at 17:43
  • Interesting workaround! Note that you will get a poor quality resulting image though. Real image editors will perform a high quality resampling. This method is just a crude rotation since it is "real time". – wisbucky Jul 16 '18 at 22:51

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

enter image description here


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).


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.


In Yosemite, open the image in Photos and crop it - this function brings up a grid and alignment tool, you can then save the image simply aligned, but not necessarily cropped.

  • The OP is asking how to do this in Preview. – IconDaemon Oct 15 '15 at 13:33

I found an online website that does it (probably there are many others):

No need to register or install anything. Just upload the picture, type how many degrees should be rotated and done.


Copy-paste the image into another image or new file (cmd+N) and twist the pasted object with two fingers.

(as shown here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvE2DHJOTCE)


You can do this straight from Preview if you're on a MacBook. Just put two fingers on the touch pad, rotate, and viola. Unfortunately, there is no way to input exactly the degrees to which you want to rotate, but this at least allows for an approximation.

Hope that helps.

  • Strange, when I do that it jumps and snaps into 90degrees positions – leon Feb 27 at 1:40

In Preview, yes...! I just discovered. Hold the option button down, and use 2 fingers on the trackpad. So many hidden features.

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    Welcome to Ask Different! I don't think your answer is correct; holding down the option button doesn't make a difference (for me at least). Please read the other answers. – Glorfindel May 2 '18 at 13:25
  • @Glorfindel This just worked for me. I held the option key and used 2 fingers to rotate on the trackpad. – ognockocaten Jan 29 at 15:22
  • holding option + two fingers on track pad just creates a duplicate photo for me on mojava 10.14.6 – Gorgon_Union Nov 12 at 1:11

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