Photo Booth – a Few Words about Pics

There are many ways to take photos with your Mac, and we talk at large about pictures in our Photo Booth and Photos texts. Let’s explain here a few generalities about photographs.

Photo Booth – a Few Words about Pics

OS X comes bundled with Photo Booth. It can be used to take snaps, video clips and more using either your Mac’s built-in iSight camera (if your Mac has it) or a USB webcam. Photo Booth has a bunch of entertaining special effects and other options to send the images you create to iPhoto or attach them to an email.


A digital image contains millions of colors, but each of the shades and hues is made up of a mixture of three primary colors, which are red, green and blue (RGB) in computers. In painting, however, the three primary colors are red, yellow and blue, which is why the computer’s primary colors are usually called additive primaries.

To know the exact RGB value of any color on screen and to recreate any shade you want, open the DigitalColor Meter (to do this, go to Applications – Utilities). You can also play with the color picking tool (look for a little magnifying glass) under the Calculator tab of ColorSync in Applications – Utilities.

Mac has an excellent ability to manage colors, which is why Mac computers have been always favored by the print and publishing industries. Indeed, OS X features the most advanced color management system of any operating system, which means that, on a day-to-day basis, the colors your digital camera or scanner capture should be very close to the colors you can see on screen and in turn the colors that are churned out by your printer.

You may come across images saved in CMYK rather than RGB mode. CMYK images do not look any different, but they are processed differently by the computer. In this case, each color is defined as a combination of the subtractive primaries (cyan, magenta and yellow, which are the opposites of RGB, with black – traditionally known as key in printing, hence the K) added to provide extra clarity in darker colors. CMYK is used for professional printing, since cyan, magenta, yellow and black are the four inks used in a printing press.

Whichever color mode is being used, OS X tries to ensure that all your devices and documents have a common idea of the fundamental Red, Green and Blue ingredients, via the system known as “color profiles”. We will not go into depths here, as the explanation would be too technical, but you can learn more about this or if you have a color-related problem in OS X, you can look for instructions and manuals.

How to Convert and Compress

In OS X, double-click an image. Most images will by default, open them into the built-in Preview application, which is a handy tool for viewing and resaving images and PDF documents.

When an image is open in Preview, you can do the following:

Resave in another format: To do this, click File – Save As and then choose a format from the dropdown menu.

Resize the image: For this, choose Tools – Adjust Size and you will be able to change the print size or resolution. To adjust the size of the image in pixels, you should be sure that Resample image is checked. To alter the print size without changing the size in pixels, leave this box unchecked.

Crop: You can remove unwanted areas from an image – just use the Select tool to define the new edges of the image, then click Tools – Crop.

You can resize a whole bunch of images, you can do so with Automator. You will find the Scale Image Action under Preview.

The thumbnails displayed in the Drawer are live icons, meaning you can drag an individual image directly from there to a folder (by doing this you are copying the image). You can also drag it onto the icon of another application (in this case you open it in that application).

Another way to batch convert images is using Folder Actions.

Shortcuts for Screen Grabs

Command key + Shift + 3 – deposits a snap of the entire screen onto the desktop.

Command key + Shift + 4 – changes the mouse pointer into a target icon, then drags across the area you want to grab.

Command key + Shift + 4 and then the Spacebar – turns the target icon into a camera icon that will focus your grab on any individual window, palette or dialog box.

Hold down ^ (Ctrl) with any of the above combinations – places your grab on the clipboard. The grab is now ready to be pasted by using the Command key + V into whichever application you want.

Command key + Shift + D – opens a lot of images in one single Preview window, select and drag all the files to the Preview Icon. The Drawer will appear. It provides an easy way to switch between the images; to toggle the drawer in and out of view.

Command key + Option key – Holding the combination and dragging the folder’s icon to the Preview icon opens a whole folder of images in Finder.

A Few Tips About Taking Photos

To compare your edited image with how it was before, duplicate the photo before you start.

In Applications – Utilities you will find a little tool called Grab. This app lets you do timed grabs, TIFF format grabs, include the mouse pointer in the snap.

If you take a lot of screenshots, you can download the free Capture widget, that offers quick access to all of these screen-grabbing options as well as a few extra file formats and a scale setting.



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