The question title describes what should be a common/simple operation? But I can not find the options to do it : After having copied an image to the clipboard -even from Preview itself - when right-clicking _nothing happens- ie. no context menu. And in Edit we only see these options:

enter image description here

Is it the case that one can not paste images atop an existing Preview window? What are simple alternatives?

  • Preview doesnt edit PDFs. You need a program like Acrobat (not Acrobat Reader).
    – Allan
    Feb 17, 2020 at 20:36
  • 1
    @Allan thanks - Preview does allow adding annotations including text and polygons. I'm surprised that adding images is apparently significantly dfifferent/more difficult and not supported. Feel free to create an answer Feb 17, 2020 at 20:49
  • @Allan that isn't really a true statement since you can add text, boxes, circles, pen writing, arrows, etc to an existing PDF document and then save it. Aug 19, 2020 at 17:14
  • @PaulWieland - you're arguing semantics. You can annotate, but you can't edit it. And by editing Apple/Adobe mean, go in and change things as if it's part of the original document. Annotating is not editing from the functional side of things.
    – Allan
    Aug 19, 2020 at 17:24

7 Answers 7


You can open a new file with that image in it. Copy your image to the clipboard and go to the File menu. Under that, you'll see the option "Open from clipboard". This opens a new pdf with that image in it. You can then edit the image and include text by going to Tools/Annotate. You can't add this image to an existing pdf but you can merge 2 or more pdf by using the free app PDFSam, which stands for PDF split and merge. So if I had a large PDF and i wanted to add an image i'd split the large PDF at the location I wanted to add the image. Then I'd merge the 3 in the correct order.

  • 3
    It's very easy to merge a few PDF pages with Preview: - Open the two documents in separate Preview windows - Show the thumbnails sidebar - Drag pages from one sidebar to the other.
    – frog22man
    Aug 4, 2020 at 10:20

You CAN do it. At least this is what worked for me on MacOS Catalina and Preview Version 11.

  1. Copy onto the Clipboard, the image that you want to paste on your PDF page.
  2. Go to Preview -> File -> New from Clipboard.
  3. This will basically create a new Preview document with your image in it. Now click anywhere on the image, press Cmd+A to select the entire image, press Cmd+C to copy and then (this is the crucial part!!) press Delete to delete the image.
  4. You will see a blank screen in Preview since you have deleted the image. Press Cmd+V and your image will reappear, but now, in a different format that can be copy-pasted across Preview documents.
  5. Finally, select this 'new format' image using Cmd+A, copy it using Cmd+C and navigate to your PDF document and paste using Cmd+V.
  6. In some cases if the document you are trying to paste into is still not allowing the paste, then repeat above but start with the other document (the document you are trying to paste into), do Cmd-A (select all) in that document, copy it (Cmd-C), paste it into a new document (File => New from clipboard), and now try again to paste your other document into this new one.

Voila! You can paste the image anywhere in your PDF document and on any page and you can resize and edit it just like you can with shapes. I think Apple didn't intend this to happen and I hope they don't read this and change this feature :P

  • 3
    Doesn't work for me in Mojave. Which OS version have you tested this in?
    – benwiggy
    Oct 27, 2020 at 17:04
  • 1
    Doesn't work for me on Big Sur either.
    – benwiggy
    Oct 27, 2020 at 22:01
  • 2
    "This one weird trick..." I don't understand why, but this solution actually works (tested on Preview 11.0).
    – khuttun
    Dec 17, 2020 at 14:48
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    Works!! Big Sur M1. The last Copy paste didn't work first time, but then I clicked on the image and re-copy pasted and did work. So much time searching for pdf readers alternatives and it was right inside Preview... Thanks!!
    – Martin
    Mar 23, 2021 at 16:58
  • 1
    Thanks a lot @ShikhinMehrotra. You have made my life a lot simpler :) May 28, 2021 at 10:14

Based on @Allan's comment that Preview does not support PDF's. Preview does support some basic image editing facilities: so I am making image copies of the pdf pages and then super-imposing the other images on top of those images. This is working for my present needs.

  • +1 for "thinking out of the box" answer. I added an answer with links to different options for editors - some paid and some free.
    – Allan
    Feb 17, 2020 at 21:28
  • i went ahead and upvoted your answer: but yea i got through my current needs this way. Feb 17, 2020 at 21:38

Adding additional method to Shikhin's answer:

The exact sequence specified didn't work for me, however this did work for me:

Steps 1-4: As is.

Step 5: Instead of using ⌘-A, I used the "Grabber" hand to select the re-pasted image.

Step 6: I then hit ⌘-C.

Step 6: I was then able to ⌘-V into the PDF

  • 1
    This. Its freakin weird but this worked for me (13.2.1)
    – willwade
    Mar 18, 2023 at 13:33
  • I think all that is needed is to select the image (⌘-A), copy the image (⌘-C), and then paste the image in the same window (⌘-V). After that first paste, I think the image is converted into an object, which can be pasted into other documents. Then repeat a similar process... click on the object, copy the object (⌘-C), and then paste the object into another document (⌘-V). Nov 30, 2023 at 5:35

You need a PDF Creator/Editor.

Preview does have some annotation capabilities, but you cannot edit. It's like drawing or writing on a pre-published form - you can mark it up, but you cant change it.

There are several PDF creators/editors available on the market. In no particular order...

Personally, I used Adobe Acrobat X for my complex PDF creation and editing needs (when "Save As PDF" just wasn't enough). This was before Adobe went Create Cloud and it means I'll be sticking with Mojave for as long as possible.

I've used other PDF creators in different environments and most "got the job done" but I always went back to Adobe.


One way to place an image onto a PDF page (using bundled MacOS tools only) is to use Automator's Watermark PDF Documents action. You add the image file as the 'watermark', and then set the opacity, angle, size, position, etc.

  • Where can one find that automator action? Oct 15, 2020 at 21:56
  • In Automator. It's called "Watermark PDF Documents".
    – benwiggy
    Oct 16, 2020 at 6:53

Preview allows you to add the image to the PDF as a new page via drag and drop:

  1. Open the target PDF in Preview.
  2. Open the image in a new Preview window via File > New from Clipboard.
  3. In both windows, click View > Contact Sheet.
  4. Drag the image thumbnail from one window into the PDF thumbnails in the other window; the image will be added to the PDF as a new page.

This method also works if you want to add pages from one PDF into another.

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