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 '20 at 20:36
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    @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 – StephenBoesch Feb 17 '20 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. – Paul Wieland Aug 19 '20 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 '20 at 17:24

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.

  • 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 '20 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.

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

  • Hey there - you might want to revisit your answer. The other answers are not wrong . Maybe you have an additional way - im checking on it. But certainly that first blanket statement is offbase. – StephenBoesch Oct 27 '20 at 16:21
  • Your approach appears to have merit. But I can not upvote until/unless you make the correction I specified. – StephenBoesch Oct 27 '20 at 16:22
  • Doesn't work for me in Mojave. Which OS version have you tested this in? – benwiggy Oct 27 '20 at 17:04
  • @benwiggy I'm on Catalina. The latest build of it. And Preview Version 11.0 (999.4) – Shikhin Mehrotra Oct 27 '20 at 18:51
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    "This one weird trick..." I don't understand why, but this solution actually works (tested on Preview 11.0). – khuttun Dec 17 '20 at 14:48

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 '20 at 21:28
  • i went ahead and upvoted your answer: but yea i got through my current needs this way. – StephenBoesch Feb 17 '20 at 21:38

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? – Amelio Vazquez-Reina Oct 15 '20 at 21:56
  • In Automator. It's called "Watermark PDF Documents". – benwiggy Oct 16 '20 at 6:53

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