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I've been looking for a nice contact sheet facility.

I learned that Preview has such a thing — "Oh joy!" I thought!

But Preview (Version 11, from Catalina) disproportionately scales height and width, yielding square images in the contact sheets!

AAARRRGGGHHH!!! NOBODY wants that to happen to their images! Looking back on the historical meaning of "contact sheet," how could they even THINK that would be acceptable?

I've been poking around, trying to see if this could be changed somehow. Holding down any of the meta keys while selecting "Contact Sheet" does nothing useful. I've glanced through Preview's .plist file in ~/Library/Preferences.

I don't know enough about defaults(1) to know if there's anything in there that could be hacked.

I posted this on Apple's community site, and apparently this is fixed in newer MacOS releases, but there are no plans to fix this for Catalina, and my hardware won't run anything newer. Alternatively, anyone know if a newer version of Preview (with aspect-preserving contact sheets) works in Catalina?

Thanks in advance for any information offered! I'm a retired developer, and am willing to poke around if given a decent likelihood of finding something.

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    Hmmm… never tried that before.. but yes, that sucks. Mojave here.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 19, 2022 at 17:13

1 Answer 1

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I've asked experts at Apple and in several developer groups — no good answer for Preview on Catalina.

I've also browsed the App Store and numerous download sites for such a thing. The ones I found all had some fatal flaw — and many of them offered you a "pro" version that got rid of that fatal flaw! No thanks; I want to see what I'm paying for.

Then in one venue, I got a recommendation for XnView MP. It is free — and unencumbered with nagware or missing features — to individuals and non-profit organizations, but they request a payment for business use. They do welcome donations, but don't insist on it. I've voluntarily contributed!

It's a little bit quirky and very much a cross-platform application; the "MP" stands for "Multi Platform," and there is a "Classic" version that is Windows-only. The MP version carries a lot of Windows heritage, such as "Explorer" instead of "View in Finder", and Windows-style text editing, for example.

But these are minor annoyances, and it does a lovely job of making highly configurable contact sheets, with or without a wide variety of supplemental information.

I did find one bug, which was quickly acknowledged on the XnView forum: pre-configured output dimensions in inches are not "sticky" in the contact sheet settings. With developer guidance, I simply chose "pixels" (instead of "inches") with the proper number for 8.5"x11" paper, and it remembered my setting.

I'm still annoyed that Apple made such a blunder in Preview, but I'm very happy with my new contact sheets from XnView MP.

(I have no relationship to the makers of XnView MP, except as a satisfied user.)

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