What do I do/need to diagram images on a Mac?
December 13, 2013 11:15 AM   Subscribe

How do I draw lines on a .pdf or .jpg image on a recent Apple computer?

I would like to be able to draw lines on a .pdf or .jpg image on a recent Apple computer? I looked for this ability in Preview, and found only pre-fab lines and circles. Is the a was to draw lines? Imagine, for example, I want to draw one of those diagrams of a football play on an image of a football field. Actually, I want to be able to diagram how a car accident happened, but same idea. Thanks!
posted by NiceParisParamus to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Skim is pretty darn good for PDF annotation, and free to boot. Acorn is closer to your typical image editor, but it's relatively cheap ($50), and open your way to a vast array of things. Or, if you have PowerPoint or Keynote (which is free if you have Mavericks/OS X 10.9), you can open the image in there, then annotate with the arrows in there, then go File>Export>PDF.
posted by Maecenas at 11:19 AM on December 13, 2013

" Is the a was to draw lines?" should be deleted.
posted by NiceParisParamus at 11:20 AM on December 13, 2013

Maecenas, thanks for the quick response. I opened PowerPoint, but discovered that the screencap image I have is in .PNG format. Although I see "how to" instructions on the Web for how to convert a .PNG to a .JPG in Preview, the menu in current Preview is different...so how do I turn a PNG file into one editable in PowerPoint?
posted by NiceParisParamus at 11:32 AM on December 13, 2013

Probably overkill, but GIMP would work.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 11:43 AM on December 13, 2013

Skitch can open PNGs (according to Google), and has a freehand pen tool.
posted by misterbrandt at 11:56 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

To convert a PNG to JPEG in Preview, I'd just open it and "Save As" a new file with the extension ".jpg" - unless things are radically different in Mavericks, that should still work. (I'm on 10.8 until 10.9.1 comes out, at least.)

My favorite application for diagrams in OS X is OmniGraffle. They have IIRC a free trial, if you want to take it for a spin or do a one-off task.

Before that, I used to use XFig, which is free, but relies on the X window environment that you'll have to install via XQuartz. You'll also need to know your way around GCC, the filesystem, and makefiles. So this is not for casual users I guess.

I've also heard good things about InkScape (free), and at the other end of the spectrum there's Adobe Illustrator of course.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:26 PM on December 13, 2013

Oh. I think I didn't realize how to "Save As" in recent editions of OSX; looks like it's called RENAME.
posted by NiceParisParamus at 12:46 PM on December 13, 2013

PowerPoint doesn't seem to read .JPGs, and KeyNote is not free ($19.99), so on to the next suggestion...
posted by NiceParisParamus at 12:54 PM on December 13, 2013

And Skim doesn't allow the drawing of lines freehand (beyond what can be done in Preview). In other words, I'm trying to trace/highlight roads and paint "Xs" on a map--thatn's what I need.
posted by NiceParisParamus at 1:09 PM on December 13, 2013

PowerPoint doesn't seem to read .JPGs

I'm not a heavy user, but this is almost certainly wrong. Open a blank presentation, and place the jpeg image on a slide. I'm sure that works.

I'm trying to trace/highlight roads and paint "Xs" on a map--thatn's what I need.

Have you considered doing this directly in Google Maps? They have a nice "draw a route" feature that might be good enough for what you need.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:16 PM on December 13, 2013

It sounds like Paintbrush might do what you want. It's basically MS Paint for Macs. I just tested it and it can import JPEG images as well as save them. PDFs might be trickier, but you could always just use the "print to PDF" feature.
posted by vogon_poet at 3:12 PM on December 13, 2013

Powerpoint can definitely do what you want. To add your JPG file, start a blank presentation, Insert > Photo > Picture from file... (at least on my version of powerpoint). Then you add lines, arrows, etc with the Insert Shape tool.

Powerpoint isn't great drawing program, but it will get the job done.
posted by quaking fajita at 4:45 AM on December 14, 2013

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