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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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13 Answers 13

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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, 2011 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. Sep 30, 2018 at 5:33
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If you're not averse to using the command line, you can use the sips command to rotate images. For example:
a) to rotate the image destructively where the rotated output overwrites the input graphical image:

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.)

b) to take and rotate image input and generate a new output image

sips -r 23 --padColor FFFFFF image.jpg -o output.png

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

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54

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, 2015 at 17:43
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    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, 2018 at 22:51
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I love the free ToyViewer.app (check Mac App Store). Can do some cool things with images. Small and fast.

enter image description here

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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)

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    the youtube link is missing nowadays... Dec 18, 2021 at 12:38
  • This should be the accepted answer! Feb 20, 2023 at 12:28
  • @user242399 The video is private in YouTube. Feb 28, 2023 at 22:08
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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.

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    The OP is asking how to do this in Preview.
    – IconDaemon
    Oct 15, 2015 at 13:33
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There's no current way to do that with Preview, although you can use ImageMagick's convert command to do it:

convert your_input_image_name.png -rotate X new_output_image_name_path.png

This command will rotate your image X degrees, accepting a positive or negative value.

Finally, you'll probably want to remove the white background:

convert rotated_image_name_path.png -transparent white final_output_image_name_path.png
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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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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, 2018 at 13:25
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    @Glorfindel This just worked for me. I held the option key and used 2 fingers to rotate on the trackpad. Jan 29, 2019 at 15:22
  • holding option + two fingers on track pad just creates a duplicate photo for me on mojava 10.14.6 Nov 12, 2019 at 1:11
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    Did not help. As soon as I release fingers from trackpad, the image reverts to it's original position before I rotated it. The option key did not matter either way. May 27, 2020 at 14:51
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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:

http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=2005012115382953

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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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.

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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.

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    Strange, when I do that it jumps and snaps into 90degrees positions
    – leon
    Feb 27, 2019 at 1:40
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If you have a trackpad, visit System Preferences > Trackpad panel and select Rotate in the Scroll & Zoom tab. Now, once in Preview, you can rotate your image by the amount you prefer, by using your thumb and index finger in a rotating manner on the trackpad. No need to click on the trackpad or hold down the option key. Without a trackpad, Preview only offers 90-degree rotational increments.

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