I am studying mathematics and I find the Preview.app's freehand tool extremely useful to help me understand the documents I am reading. As you can see in the picture below I end up having a LOT of shapes to make sense of the maths. Sometimes I just need to move a group of shapes to make some space to add new ones. At present after clicking on the first shape to select it, I have to click on each further shape very carefully while keeping the shift button pressed to add them to the selection, and if I ever misclick (which happens 1/3 of the attempts) this then leads to all the selected elements being lost, requiring me to then start from the beginning. [Update: clicking ⌘Z after such an error recovers the selection up to the error!]

A page from Ralph Hinze's "Generic Programming with Adjunctions" annotated very carefully

Is there a way to select a number of shapes in one go? That would be tremendously helpful.

I have found that if I select one shape, and click ⌘A (Edit->Seclect All) then I can select all the shapes in the page. But that does not help, as I have too many.

I have placed my edited version of the document online, so that anyone who wants can get a feel as to why clicking on individual objects is problematic and to test any solution they come up with.

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    @Nimesh That involves clicking each shape individually which is what OP is doing. Also Preview.app is a correct way of referring to the Preview app and neither is preferred over the other, no need to edit
    – grg
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 15:38
  • have you tried selecting one and then holding down the option key select others one at a time?
    – Natsfan
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 22:23
  • yes @jmh, that is how I have been doing it until now. Well except that on my computer I need to keep the "shift" key pressed to add new shapes to the selection (I updated the text to make this clear). If you download the document linked to in the last paragraph of my report you'll see how tedious that soon becomes. For example I often need to move a whole diagram that is constituted of perhpas 20-30 arrows and text. Selecting that using the shift key method can take a minute, if I don't mistakenly click next to a shape and so deselect everything selected until then. You can try it. Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 8:43
  • I noticed that if after selecting a number of objects by shift-clicking on them, I mistakenly click on a blank spot and lose all my previous selection, I can get it back with ⌘Z . So that at least makes the experience of mis clicking a lot less painful. Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 10:49

1 Answer 1


I was looking for something similar. I found a solution. Although a bit late, anyone else might find it useful. Please follow:

  1. Tools
  2. Show inspector
  3. [In the box opened] Select annotations inspector (rightmost choice)

Now you see all the objects you have in the file.

Trick is that, creation dates are available. Chances are all the objects of your interest are created at very close time intervals.

  1. Now just use shift + select

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