If I add text boxes and shapes to an image using Preview.app, save that image, and then close the image window, the next time that I open the image in Preview, all additions are uneditable. Preview saves the edits directly to the image.

I am looking for a basic program that can do the same thing as Preview.app (i.e., overlay shapes and text onto an image), except that I need the ability to edit or remove the new image elements later.

Adobe Photoshop can accomplish this obviously, but I am looking for something more user-friendly and simple (à la Preview).

  • Just a few questions: (1) What are you wanting to be able to do with the images eventually (or doesn't that really matter)? (2) Are you looking for a free option? (3) Do you happen to have MS Office installed? If so, what version?
    – Monomeeth
    Apr 8, 2017 at 9:16
  • 1. Annotate an image in a way that the annotations can be edited later without redoing them. 2. Preferred, but not necessary. I mostly care about ease of use. 3. Yes. 2011. I know that this can be done in Word, for example, but it doesn't have the same image-centric GUI of Preview.app. Apr 8, 2017 at 18:00

2 Answers 2


All the software I would normally recommend are probably out of scope considering your comments about Adobe Photoshop, and the fact you're looking for something more user-friendly and simple.

Since you just want to be able to annotate an image and then edit this again later, one option for this type of thing is to use MS PowerPoint (which you already have).

I've shown many people over the years how they can use PowerPoint and most of them have been happy with the results, so give this a go before you dismiss it.

Using MS PowerPoint

One feature of MS PowerPoint 2011 and above is that you can group items on the slide and save them as a single image. So, you could do what you want as follows:

  • Insert the image into your PowerPoint slide.
  • Use shapes etc to draw arrows, lines, etc.
  • Use text boxes to add in your comments.
  • Format them as necessary (color, line weights, etc).
  • Select all items (i.e. the image and any shapes, etc.).
  • Right-mouse-click on your selection and go to Grouping > Group to group them together.
  • Right-mouse-click on the grouped items and select 'save as picture'.
  • Select from PNG, JPEG, GIF and BMP for the image format you want (you can also select PDF as an option).
  • Now also save your PowerPoint presentation.

And there you go - you've got yourself an edited (annotated) image you can use that is separate from the original file, and if you save the PowerPoint slide you have a way of going back and editing it again.

PowerPoint also gives you some pro editing features such as the ability to arrange items (e.g. Forwards, Backwards, Front, Back) as well as adding shadows, transparencies, etc. If you take the time to really get to know it, you'd be surprised what you can do.

I hope you don't mind, but I took the liberty of using your profile pic to do a quick edit with it in PowerPoint just to give you a taste of what's possible.

enter image description here


You could press Pages or Keynote or PowerPoint into service but for layered document work on the Mac, my favorite apps are:

Pixelmator seems to be more of a photoshop replacement (which you can rent monthly if you prefer that option) but both are awesome and fully Mac like.

  • And there are tons of "markup" apps - best imho are Napkin with skitch a distant second since it needs an Evernote account.
    – bmike
    Apr 9, 2017 at 0:04

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