While adding some annotations to a PNG image, using the Preview App, I added a mask to highlight part of the image -- Shapes » Highlight. After doing that I couldn't save the image anymore. I got the following error message:

The document "[FILE_NAME]" could not be saved.

Error message: The document could not be saved

No detail about what is wrong was given. I tried different file names and directories. Also tried to use "Export" instead of "Save". Nothing worked.

Looking at Apple's support page I couldn't find anything about a specific format or something special about that tool.

I'm wondering what I'm doing wrong.


4 Answers 4


This is a bug with Preview.

Preview -[CIImage initWithCGImage:options:] failed because the CGImage is nil.
Preview Error: CGImageForSavingWithFlattenedEXIF:depth: failed
Preview finalize:2403: image destination must have at least one image

You can report bugs to Apple at https://bugreport.apple.com.

  • Bug submission is no longer supported there. ... and this feature is still broken.
    – musicin3d
    Commented Sep 4, 2019 at 19:04

I am having exactly same issue on my end. not able to save highlighted picture in preview app

Highlight is a function I need to use everyday. Hope Apple fix this as soon as possible.

Current stupid workaround is

  1. Use preview to set highlight area.
  2. Use command+shift+4 to take screenshot on preview.


  • I didn't think of taking a new screenshot. It's more work but it works. Haha! Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 15:13
  • does someone have time to tell me how to highlight a paragraph? I'm not even sure what highlight does.
    – Natsfan
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 18:10

Export to PNG before making changes. Open the PNG file and edit it. Use Instant Alpha to delete background. Finalize and save. For other changes I suggest exporting it to JPEG or other


Alternative solution to screenshot...

  1. Cmd + Shift + S to duplicate
  2. Cmd + S to save
  3. Save as PDF
  4. edit
  5. Export as PNG

Not really sure it's a better solution, just another workaround.

Follow up to this... It appears that Preview in Mojave is working. I was on the previous version when I posted this answer. I'm still not on Catalina yet, but it's working for me in Mojave.

  • The "Save as PDF" step is necessary?
    – minseong
    Commented Jan 29, 2020 at 19:16
  • Yeah. For whatever reason, you had to make Preview treat it as a PDF in order for the save to PNG feature to work. Certainly not ideal. I wish Apple would have fixed it.
    – musicin3d
    Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 18:57

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