How to Mark Up Image Attachments in Apple Mail

Collaboration is key in many organizations, so using the tools you have on hand well, is important. Apple Mail gives you access to simple markup tools right within message composition. Thus, you can make quick edits inline and never leave the application.

RELATED: Use Your Mac’s Preview App to Merge, Split, Mark Up, and Sign PDFs

In Mail, you can mark up your image and commit to the changes within the message. This is a great deal more direct and convenient than say, adding text comments to the message, or opening the image in an external application, adding the markup, saving the image, and then attaching it.

Accomplishing this in Apple Mail is seamless. Mail uses many of the same markup tools found in the versatile Preview application, which we discussed in our article about signing PDF forms. So, if you’re familiar with Preview, then these will be a piece of cake.

Preview’s markup toolbar.


First, with Apple Mail open, compose your message and attach your image as you normally would, then click on the image so it is selected, and then click the arrow in the upper-right corner.


A small menu (two whole choices) will open, which will allow you to open the “Markup” tools.

The rest of the message will turn gray and the markup toolbar will appear above your attached image.

There’s quite a bit you can with this small toolbar. Let’s take a little time to show you what each thing does.

Starting from the left, the first four buttons let you affect changes. The pen icon will let you draw freely on the image as if using a pen, next you can draw squares and circles, then you can add text, and finally you can affix a signature.

The last item is of particular interest. Let’s say someone sends you an official document image. You can sign it with your trackpad or camera, lock in the change, and then immediately send it back.

The second group of four buttons, let you alter how your markup looks – line thickness and style (dotted, arrows, etc.), border color, fill color, and text style.

Once you’re finished making your changes, you can click “Done” and they will be saved to your image.

On the receiving end of things, you can collaborate further by making more changes to the image. To do this, first reply (or forward) to the message and on the compose window’s toolbar, click the button to include the attachment from the original message.

The attachment will now be placed back into your new message and you can again click the arrow in the upper-right corner, then “Markup” to open the tools. Once you’re finished, again click “Done” and send the message.

Being able to mark up an attachment like this means you save quite a bit of time and effort not dealing with external image editors, saving, and reattaching it to the message.

Best of all, it requires no add-on software, no plugins, or settings adjustments, which also lessens the time needed to train others how to use these tools.

With all that said, we’d like to hear from you now. Do you think these tools are useful and will you be using them? What do you normally use if you want to collaborate? We welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions, so please leave your feedback in our discussion forum.

Matt Klein is an aspiring Florida beach bum, displaced honorary Texan, and dyed-in-wool Ohio State Buckeye, who fancies himself a nerd-of-all-trades. His favorite topics might include operating systems, BBQ, roller skating, and trying to figure out how to explain quantum computers.