Annotate images on the Mac

In the announcement of Yosemite, Apple touted the new Markup feature in Mail. Users of Apple’s email app can now annotate images right in the New Message window. Nifty, but (wanh wanh) I don’t use Mail.

Preview can handle all kinds of image manipulation and annotation, but Preview is not by nature a tool for creation.

Poking around System Preferences, I found this section of the new Extensions pane:

What’s that about? Turns out that’s how Apple Mail gets its new Markup feature, wherein you can annotate and draw on a picture right in New Message window. And other apps, such as Pixelmator, can tack features onto other apps. This is the same thing Apple did for iOS, letting you edit an image in Photos, using tools provided by third-party apps.

On the Mac, that means that apps have a way to add functionality to other apps, without resorting to hacks. So, for example, I can put a photo in TextEdit…

…and cilck this little arrow that now appears at the corner…

Click Markup to get a window like this…

Wherein I can annotate the image with text, circles, arrows, what have you; and also in some surprising ways, including adding a loupe effect…

That has a lot of potential, and very easy to access. I don’t know why we don’t see more apps adding these extensions. Currently, the only additional one I have is a Repair Tool by Pixelmator…

…which I can use to make things disappear…

(Not the most artful job, but you get the picture, as it were.)

This is all in TextEdit, the modest word processor that comes with every Mac. Since I don’t use the Apple Mail program, I just tried pasting this entire article into Gmail, in a web browser, and it worked! 

Create contact information from copied text

I’ve been looking for a smooth way to add contact information from text I’ve copied from a web site. The key is to use Apple’s Data Detectors feature in TextEdit.

First, you want to set TextEdit to be always ready for this action:

  1. Open TextEdit.
  2. Go to TextEdit menu > Preferences…
  3. Turn on Data Detectors, at the very bottom of the New Document tab.
  4. (I also like to change my default document format to Plain Text, but that’s not necessary to this procedure.)
  5. Close the Preferences window.

OK, now you’re ready to do this anytime:

  1. Create a new TextEdit document.
  2. Paste in any kind of contact information, e.g. name, address, email, phone number.
  3. Hover over what you just pasted. See that little drop-down arrow? Click it.
  4. You’ll see what to do from there!

Here’s a quick screencast. Enjoy!

https://v.usetapes.com/dTnSsAcB2g