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How to Crop Pictures on MacBook Pro?

April 18

20 min. to read

Cropping a photo can change its look in a very noticeable way - you can make the composition better. Here we leave you with a simple guide on how to crop a photo on Mac.

No matter how adept you are at photography or how much time you take to compose your photos in-camera, sometimes it becomes essential to crop some photos of yours with editors or built-right apps. The reasons to do this could be many. You might want a different kind of look for your image when seeing it on a bigger screen, or you may just need to crop a photo to post it on a social media platform like Instagram.  It is imperative to understand how to crop pictures on Mac. This is a versatile tool that can come in handy in many cases. Having unwanted objects in your images is another big reason to crop them, which may happen if you took the photo without having the time to properly compose it. We’ll show you how to do cropping quickly and easily.

Processing a photo you've already taken is a common process for the user. Often we need to remove someone in the background or foreground, or just crop a piece that doesn't make any sense. And if you have a Mac, editing images can be much easier than on a small iPhone screen. If you absolutely have no idea how to crop an image on Mac, then let's figure it out together right now.

Reasons for cropping an image on a Mac

Cropping an image is not just about removing unwanted objects; it's a way to emphasize the main subject, alter the composition, or adapt the photo for specific purposes. 

Here are some common reasons why you might need to crop an image on a Mac:

  • Improving Composition: Sometimes the original shot may not have the desired composition. Cropping can help emphasize the rule of thirds, center the subject, or bring focus to the main object.

  • Eliminating Distractions: Unwanted objects, people, or backgrounds can sometimes distract from the main subject. Cropping can help remove these distractions.

  • Adapting for Social Media: Different social media platforms have different recommended image dimensions. Cropping allows you to adjust your photo to fit perfectly on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

  • Focusing on Details: You might want to zoom in on a specific detail in the photo, highlighting something that may not be immediately noticeable in the original shot.

  • Creating a New Perspective: Cropping can offer a new angle or perspective to an image that wasn’t initially apparent, giving it a fresh look.

  • Adjusting Aspect Ratio: Whether for print or digital display, different projects may require different aspect ratios. Cropping allows you to adjust the dimensions accordingly.

Additionally, if you're not just looking to crop but to adjust the entire dimensions of your image, you might want to explore how to resize an image on a Mac.

Factors to keep in mind when cropping images on your Mac

Before we delve into how to use Mac's built-in image editor, it's crucial to understand some key factors that can influence the outcome.

1. Determine the desired final image shape

Before you start cropping, it's important to have a clear idea of the final image shape you want. Whether it's a square, rectangle, or any other shape, this decision can greatly influence the final look of your cropped photo. The aspect ratio, or the proportion of the width to the height of the image, plays a significant role in determining how the image will appear in its final form.

2. Decide on the focal point's placement

The focal point is the main subject or area of interest in your photo. When cropping, ensure that the focal point is strategically positioned in the frame. Many photographers use the rule of thirds, which divides the image into nine equal parts with two horizontal and two vertical lines. Placing your focal point along these lines or at their intersections can make the composition more balanced and visually appealing.

3. Think about the timing for applying additional edits

If you plan to make further edits to your photo, such as adjusting brightness, contrast, or color balance, consider when to crop. Some edits are better done before cropping, while others might be more effectively applied after. For instance, if you're planning to adjust the entire image's exposure, it might be wise to do this before cropping to ensure uniformity.

4. Create a duplicate copy before cropping

It's always a good practice to work on a copy of your original image. This ensures that if you make any mistakes or change your mind later, you still have the original untouched image to go back to. Additionally, having a backup allows you to compare the cropped version with the original, giving you a better perspective on the changes made.

Things to Remember While Cropping

Cropping an image is possibly the easiest thing one can do with any number of photo editors, but there are some important aspects that one should know of before going ahead and cutting out parts of their photos. To make crop images on Mac really right, it is important to follow a few rules. It is not complicated at all and you can figure it out quickly enough.

Be mindful of the aspect ratio that your final image will have. The aspect ratio is a very important factor in this process. It is better to crop your images in one of the standard aspect ratios so that they look natural even after being cropped. This not only depends on the resolution of your image but also on what you are trying to show in the photo. Some photos look better in a square composition or rectangle, others look better in a widescreen view.

Do not crop more than your image’s resolution allows. A camera’s megapixel number is not a definitive testament to its image quality, but it does tell you how much you can crop into your photos without turning them into a mushy mess. So, how to crop pictures on Mac?

How to Crop Photos on a MacBook

Apple’s MacBook laptops are by far some of the most preferred ones when it comes to photographers. Their stability and large number of impressive photo editing apps make them a great choice for enthusiasts and professional photographers alike. This is a great option for a simple keyboard shortcut. If you also use a MacBook or MacBook Pro for your image editing needs, here’s how you can easily crop your images the way you want:

Cropping can refine a photo's composition, focusing on the most essential parts and removing any unwanted elements. Here's how to crop a photo on your Mac:

  • Crop Photos in the Photos App on Mac

Cropping can refine a photo's composition, focusing on the most essential parts and removing any unwanted elements. Here's how to crop a photo on your Mac:

  • Open Photos App: Find and launch the Photos app on your Mac.

  • Select Photo: Navigate to and click on the photo you want to crop.

  • Enter Edit Mode: Click the "Edit" button (or press the Return key).

  • Choose Crop: Click the "Crop" icon (a square with overlapping corners).

  • Adjust: Drag the corners or edges of the box to your desired crop.

  • Apply & Save: Click the yellow "Done" button to apply the crop and save your changes.

  • Use the Built-In Apps

First and foremost, Apple’s own built-in applications come to mind when talking about image cropping on a MacBook. How to Crop Pictures on MacBook Pro? Image1

  1. Locate and open the image you want to edit with Preview.

  2. Click and drag, forming a selection box around the part of the image you want to keep.

  3. Look at the top menu, move to the right part where you see a pen icon, and click on “Tools.”

  4. In the dropdown menu under “Tools,” find and select the “Crop to Selection” option.

  5. Your image will instantly adjust, showing only the selected area. Make sure to save your changes.

Apple’s new Photos app is also a pretty impressive image editor which is built into every device. Other than boasting RAW editing capabilities and features like color correction, it also can crop your images and save results to iCloud. It allows you to straighten your images as well while cropping the extra portions automatically. You can also manually crop and straighten your images if you so wish. Now you will have fewer questions about how to crop images on Mac OS X.

  • Use Photoshop for Deeper Control

You can crop your images in Adobe Photoshop if you want a little more control over the result. Cropping an image is simple; all you have to do is make your selection after clicking on the Crop Tool and pressing Enter. Just click on the desired option in the toolbar. You can type in a custom aspect ratio, change the grid that overlays on the selection, and alter the image resolution after cropping as well.

  • Use Luminar Neo for the Best Balance

How to Crop Pictures on MacBook Pro? Image2

While the original version of Photoshop does give you full control over your images while cropping, it’s safe to say that using such a heavy program might be overkill if all you need to do is quickly crop your image or just resize it. For the best balance between ease of use and professional-level options, use Luminar Neo by Skylum. It gives you easy tools for cropping your photos, along with multiple aspect ratios to get the image you want. You can also straighten your photos while cropping and manually enter whatever aspect ratio you wish to use. Modern AI-based photo editors have fairly advanced functionality.How to Crop Pictures on MacBook Pro? Image3

There are many scenarios in which you might want to crop your images, and there are many software edit programs you can use on your MacBook Pro to do so. Just remember that, unless required for creative purposes, a cropped image that looks ‘cropped’ doesn’t always give the best results. When cropping, you can be guided by the grid with blue dots. Keep in mind the importance of the aspect ratio your images are being cropped at and the overall composition of your resulting images, and you’ll be good to go. Always pay attention to markup.

In conclusion

It is not always the case that a photograph in its original form can attract, and engage the viewer, but it is worth properly cropping the photo - to remove all the unnecessary, distracting details, and the picture creates a completely different impression! Here are some simple photo cropping tips for Mac users:

  • Crop to save space. Using a photo banner (meaning not an ad banner) is a good way to decorate a website or blog. But how do you use such a small piece of space? By cutting out a very small portion of the photo! You'll be surprised at how much such a small piece of imagery can show. Сircular shape cropping looks very original.
  • Crop portraits at eye level. To make the subject eye-to-eye with the viewer, cropping should be guided by eye level, which is about 2/5 of the height, counting from the top edge of the image. How to crop on Mac, if we are dealing with a portrait? Due to the fact that distant objects appear higher in the visible area, the eye level should be raised when giving the image a close-up view.
  • Cut back and remove unwanted things. Photos taken in everyday life often contain things you don't need (such as unknown people in the background). The first rule of cropping is to get rid of anything that is useless to the composition. Compact, focused, straighten, and irresistible. For example, a well and simply cropped photo tell the story of friendship and understanding.
  • Play with the horizon level. It's very easy to miss a slightly tilted horizon, especially when another tilted object is thrown over it. In this photo, the water should be level. How to crop photos on Mac in this case? If water is present in the frame, imagine a bowl of soup, and don't spill it. In these situations, changing the level requires cropping all four sides of the image. A bold, artistic slant can add energy to a composition, which is especially effective in photos with clear, straight lines.
  • Cropping up to tell a story and get the photo you want. Different distances tell different stories. For example, we see a baseball lying in the dirt, completely uninteresting; you take the ball in your hand and throw it. However, by giving the ball a close-up, the story changes. This is another reason to learn how to crop on Macbook. You see the skin, the dirt, the seam, the rust. They fill the picture, activating your senses. You can feel the ball in your hand, hear the crack of the bat, and the roar of the crowd, you can touch the history of the game. Use magnification and you'll be surprised at the result.

So, we told you how to crop a downloaded picture on Mac and what rules to follow when doing so. Now you will not have any difficulties and you will be able to perform this simple task not only quickly, but also in the best possible way. Don't forget that the Luminar Neo has an easy-to-use menu bar and many editing features.


What's the Mac shortcut for cropping?

There isn't a direct keyboard shortcut for cropping in macOS by default. However, if you're using the Preview app to view and edit images, you can press Command + K to crop an image after selecting the desired area.

How can I crop images using Preview on macOS?

Here is a brief guide:

  1. Open the image with Preview.

  2. Click on the rectangular selection tool in the toolbar or press Command + A to select the whole image.

  3. Drag to select the area of the image you want to keep.

  4. Go to the Tools menu and select 'Crop' or simply press Command + K.

  5. Save the image.

What's the process for cropping an image on a Mac?

There are several ways to crop an image on a Mac, but the most common method is using the Preview app. Once you've opened your image in Preview, you can select the area you wish to keep using the rectangular selection tool, then choose 'Crop' from the Tools menu or press Command + K.

How to Crop Pictures on MacBook | Skylum How To | Skylum How-to(2)

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Written by

Oleksii Prokopenko

Street Photographer

My journey in photography, starting from my school days, led me to embrace street photography around 2013 actively. My camera and I explore cities, capturing their essence, the people, landscapes, nature, and concerts. I find inspiration in new places, intriguing subjects, architectural marvels, and, crucially, the interplay of light and shadow.

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How to Crop Pictures on MacBook | Skylum How To | Skylum How-to(14)