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Preview allows to add text and shapes to PDFs. But is it possible to add existing images (PNG / JPEG) to a PDF file as well?

I do know that Preview already has some of image embedding by allowing the user to add signatures drawn on the screen of an i-Device. But I couldn't figure out if this would also work with arbitrary files.

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  • 1
    You'd be much better off looking for other software to do this, rather than try to shoe-horn Preview's capabilities into your task.
    – benwiggy
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 11:34
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    @benwiggy Certified StackExchange moment. — How do I do X in Y? — Don't do X in Y. At least recommend what software to use if you want your comment to be helpful. Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 10:13

7 Answers 7

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Do as follows:

  • Open the image you want to paste in Preview.app
  • Select All (Command-A)
  • Copy (Command-C)
  • Paste (Command-V)

Now you have a copy of your image pasted above your old image. This is apparently meaningless, but the new copy is not just an image, but an object.

  • Click on the new image (round blue corners appear, no marching ants)
  • Copy (Command-C)
  • Paste on your PDF document. The image is an object, moveable and resizable. The original PDF is still a PDF, editable and all.
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    I had to read this slowly to realize that there is the extra, non-obvious step of "pasting" the source image into the source image file before you can paste it into the target file. Thank you!
    – Nat Kuhn
    Commented Aug 12, 2022 at 21:05
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    I couldn't believe that Apple didn't apply this as a default function still.
    – kakadais
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 5:06
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    Most likely, Apple doesn't know that this feature exists. Looks like a good hack to me.
    – winitzki
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 14:06
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    This is really brilliant! Commented May 20, 2023 at 11:44
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    Not working on Preview Version 11.0 (1056), macOS Sonoma 14.0 (23A344) Commented Oct 10, 2023 at 17:54
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This is not a solution but still a work around.

  1. Convert the PDF document to an image with File » Export .. Choose PNG as the format and change the resolution as desired.

  2. Open the image file and select the whole image with Edit » Select All (or select just a part of it with the mouse if you wish).

  3. Copy the selection Edit » Copy.
  4. Go back to the document (which is now a PNG image) and paste the selection with Edit » Paste and resize it as you wish.
  5. Save the file as a PDF with File » Export as PDF (and rename it if the original PDF needs to be preserved).

Note a PDF made from an image is not searchable, so that is a drawback to this procedure.

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    Tried that but failed in Step 4 as pasting was not available (although the PNG had all required permissions). Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 23:04
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    This does not work. Look at the other answer below for the one that does work correctly.
    – togume
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 14:48
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    Don't stop here! Scroll down for a much much better solution!
    – mles
    Commented May 4, 2021 at 13:42
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I spend a lot of time reading the "solutions" and no one was able to do what I want: Paste an image or photo in the middle of the content PDF pdf. Not just add a new page in the pdf with an image. And also don't use another app or software.

So here is the solution:

  1. Open your PDF where you want to add the image with Preview.
  2. Export it as a JPG with the highest resolution (That's what I did, not sure if it works with lower resolution)
  3. Open the image you want to add with Preview
  4. Open the exported file from PDF which at this moment is in JPG(is that clear?)
  5. Select the image cmd+a and copy the image cmd+c

At this moment you have 3 files open the original PDF(1), the exported JPG(2) and the image file (3) all of them with Preview.

  1. Paste the image cmd+v in the exported file JPG

Note: The image is pasted and has a square surrounding the image with dots y the borders to re-size the image.

  1. From the exported file JPG select (click over the image) and copy the image cmd+c

Here is where the magic happens:

  1. Go to the original PDF and paste cmd+v

Now you can erase the exported file.

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    The trouble with this (and the original answer, which is the same method) is that you have to convert your PDF to an image. That's going to affect readability of text, and remove the ability to search.
    – benwiggy
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 11:36
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    @benwiggy The OP seems to paste back into the original PDF so its properties are preserved. I don‘t understand the need for the intermediate step (export as JPG) though.
    – nohillside
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 13:51
  • What this means is that the JPG doesn't have to be exported from the PDF. It can be any JPG, even the one that you want to put in the PDF. But even then you still have to Select All (CMD+A) and Copy (CMD+C) the image and Paste (CMD+V) the image into itself, before you copy it again to paste it into the PDF.
    – iMaddin
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 5:38
  • Yes, Only this method works - put image via Image Editor
    – Gediminas
    Commented Mar 1, 2021 at 10:01
  • Can confirm, only this method worked. Commented May 1, 2022 at 12:53
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Step 1. Open both your PDF and image side by side in Preview.

Step 2. Select the area of the image you want to paste into the PDF. Use ⌘ CommandC to copy the selection and using ⌘ Commandv to paste it into itself.

Step 3. Then select this new image and use ⌘ Commandx to cut the image and paste it into the PDF using ⌘ Commandv.

Sourced from this YouTube channel

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    this is literally what the top rated answer says to do and was posted 3 years earlier.
    – lensovet
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 22:29
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    @/lensovet, aside from @Allan's edit introducing a typo, the difference is this one says to use Cut rather than Copy to get a version on the clipboard that can be pasted, and in my case Copy does not work but Cut does, so this answer helped. Preview Version 11.0 (1056), macOS Sonoma 14.0 (23A344) Commented Oct 10, 2023 at 18:00
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Automator includes an action to "Watermark PDF Documents", which adds an image file to every page of a PDF.

So, you'll need to separate out the target page in Preview (drag the thumbnail of that page to a Finder window), then apply the watermark to that page, then drag the single-page PDF back into the full document.

Arguably, the easiest and best methods may not involve Preview.

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You can export images as PDF and import them as "page from file" into the target file. I'm afraid that in-page embedding might not be easy.

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If you don't mind the inserted image being in its own page, you can do Edit -> Insert -> Page from File... and select your image.

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  • or you can darg and drop from finder into pages view panel Commented Apr 20 at 16:46

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