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How to save a clipboard image on macOS

The macOS clipboard is every bit as capable as the clipboard on any other operating system. It can copy all sorts of things; text, images, and files. Images can be copied from any app that can show them to you and you can paste them into a note, in a document, or a message. If you’d just like to save the image as an image, you can use the Preview app. The Preview app isn’t just a file viewer; you can use it to create a new file and in this case, you can use it to save a clipboard image on macOS.

Save a clipboard image

First, copy an image to your clipboard. You can do this from a browser. Right-click an image and select the copy image option from the context menu.

Make sure you do not copy anything else to your clipboard until you’ve saved this image. Open Preview from Spotlight or from Launchpad. Since you haven’t given it a file to open, it will show you a dialog box to select a file. Go to the menu bar and select File>New from Clipboard.

The Preview app will open and the image on your clipboard will automatically be pasted. You’ve basically created a new file that needs to be saved. Go to File and select the save option. Since this is Preview, you can use it to save the image to any format that it supports and it supports quite a few of them. The quality of the image will not suffer unless you choose to save it to a compressed format and you reduce its quality. The size of the image is going to be the same as the original image that you copied. The canvas size is set automatically since you create the file from the clipboard.

Preview is a fairly advanced file viewer. You won’t normally find anything like it on desktop operating systems. There are third-party file viewers but you’d need a lot of them to have all the features that Preview has. The only problem is that with so many features, users tend to forget or assume the app won’t allow them to create a new file.

macOS doesn’t have a scribbling or drawing app like Paint which is the go-to app on Windows for pasting images or screenshots. It has Preview which doesn’t give you an open, empty canvas for drawing but it does so much more.

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