App for gathering pix, text & PDFs

I had been using Preview to combine multiple documents for a project. When I started to add photos, it didn’t appear to like it (they would give errors while trying to save or export as PDF).

As I was thinking I almost needed something like a photo book app (I am right now getting sent a ton of photos to add), I remembered I have and love Notability. Except not only is dropping pix in proving to be more difficult than actually taking photos while typing in a seminar, I also cannot manage to type beneath the last photo to continue on. And adding a new photo places it on top of the last one, which means I have to drag it down into a new page (there is no create new page command).

I am still running Sierra but am not that far behind on Notability. Current version is 4.4 and I am on 4.0.4

While I may be able to make this work (or Preview if I convert all the pix I’ve been sent I guess) - is there another, better app? I am tempted to try Aperture but I don’t think it will take the PDFs. When everything is compiled it needs to be exported in PDF for and emailed.

Thanks - again! And if there is another forum better suited for these questions please let me know.

Maybe I’m just missing the point here, but doesn’t Notes actually support doing that? I remember at one point dragging a bunch of graphics and even a couple PDFs into a note. I was able to write captions to go with the content I had just dragged into the note. It’s a very low key solution, but it’s built into every Mac and it syncs nicely to any other Macs or iDevices you might have.

[By the way, I just realized I was even able to drag a file onto one such note.]

You didn’t miss the point - I didn’t realize Notes could deal with PDFs!

The only thing it won’t do is show each individual page if I drop a current PDF into it, but it is managing the pix better.

Thank you!!

If Notes doesn’t work out for you, consider Curio.

Yeah, I see that too. Shame there’s no option to display inline (or at least I can’t find it). You have to rely on Quick Look to view the following pages or else double-click to launch in your PDF viewer app.

On iOS it’s a bit more straightforward. There if you tap on the PDF it displays it right away. Click Done and you’re back to the note. Slick. :slight_smile:

I couldn’t find it either and since he’s sending it out to clients, I figure it should show completely inline. I also discovered you can view large or small images (kind of like a contact sheet) but it exports it exactly as you last left it. I was ready to go with a flip book product.

I figured out my problem though I don’t quite understand it. Dropping everything into Notes worked great once I got past the initial 12 page PDF. He had sent me a number of emails with 4-5 pix in each email. I saved all the pix into folders on my hard drive and they totaled 90mb. When I dropped them into Notes and exported to PDF, it was over 800mb! Notability did the same thing - I was starting to think Notability was having issues with the photo size, though I thought there was a way to grab corners and resize on the fly in there.

I ended up doing a batch convert in Graphic Converter, reducing photo size by 50% and that dropped the resulting PDF to 41mb. Still big but more manageable than 800mb!

I used Preview after all to get away from the big/small inline or not issue. Using it in Contact view made it easier to see where I was while dropping photos. While I think in a perfect world, using Notes would be great as I could share it with him and he could see the changes right away, but I don’t need a 40+mb file syncing across my devices.

@Gordon - Curio looks nice, thanks for that suggestion!


Have you tried Pages? I can drop single page PDF’s into it… works fine in Mojave / 10.14.



Didn’t think of that! It didn’t take the multi-page PDF (only imported the first page) and when I tried to drop a few pix into the document, it again only took the first one. Guess I should try Word too at this point!


A friend of mine developed a Shareware app for this:

You drop a folder of images onto the app and it generates a PDF containing the image files. The images in the resulting file are ordered by file name.

The app limits itself to generating 10-page documents until it is registered. Registration is $10. It’s an old app, but it’s universal (PowerPC, 32- and 64-bit Intel). I just confirmed that it works on Catalina.

That is slick!! And super quick.


I think Apple’s Pages offers the best solution (without going to a real desktop publishing program).
A multi-page PDF can have each thumbnail dragged onto a Pages document (one at a time). Other graphic items can also be either “inserted” onto the page or dragged onto the page. Multiple pages can be created or deleted at will, and Left and Right pages can be done as in a book form. Automatic page numbering can be used (via Header & Footer).
Type and graphic “styles” can be used. Fancy borders and shadows can be used.
Captions can be used for the images; re-sizing of graphics can be done easily.
A final PDF can have its sized reduced (changes the resolution of the graphics) from within Pages at time of PDF creation. Good; Better; Best options appear. also has a Reduce File Size option.
Many benefits in using Pages as the base document creator!

I actually have old versions of PageMaker - am I dating myself? The only issue I had with Pages (which I hadn’t thought of previously) was trying to drop a 12 page PDF that had already been created into it.

I am going to have to look at the Reduce File Size option for Preview, it completely escaped me when I was doing this.

Thanks for the tips!

Wow! I found the “Reduce File Size” function in Preview. It’s only in Save As, not Export as PDF. That took my 42mb file down to 1.7. I wish I hadn’t deleted the full sized one now!

Does anyone know what it changes exactly? I’m sitting in my car on my laptop so small screen and no printer. I don’t see a discernible difference between the two documents.


I haven’t looked at this for quite a while, but Preview’s Reduce Size option gets most of its space savings from downsampling and compressing images. Long ago, it also deleted bookmarks and other PDF attributes that we used heavily in Take Control books, so I wasn’t a fan of it then. Apple may have fixed those unwelcome behaviors since removing bookmarks and the like hurts PDFs that do have them with little space savings benefit.

I believe it saves all the images as .jpg files with “medium” quality downsampled to 512 pixels in the larger dimension. Since it’s a Quartz filter, you can define your own settings using the ColorSync utility.

I didn’t have any links but I did have a lot of pix. I’ll see if there are more settings to find with that. I’m just happy I am finally able to email it!


PowerPoint might also work, and it’s easy to position stuff in it. If you don’t need to put a lot of PDFs and text on any one slide, and you can preserve the entire shebang as a PDF, and you can include speaker notes:

I’ve never used Keynote, but it might be worth checking out. It probably does the same stuff.

I had been using Preview to combine multiple documents for a project.

There is a type of software that is specifically made to do exactly what you want to do. It’s called “document management software,” and there are a bunch of examples for the Macintosh. These apps often include such useful features as integrating with your scanner, OCR, and very high speed searches through tons of documents.

In the interest of being brief I’ll just reference a couple of the more popular ones. If you don’t find any of them to be suitable, let me know and offlist I can give you a long list of alternatives from ordinary-user level to pro-level:


(Several “editions” depending on your needs. Includes unique artificial intelligence)




(includes the ability to integrate seamlessly with the popular Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner, and OCR)
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GoodNotes on the App Store offers some fascinating PDF capabilities plus iCloud integration. Great support, inexpensive, frequent updates too.:stuck_out_tongue:

Hi Randy - I actually downloaded DEVONthink and EagleFiler for a different thing I was doing - retaining info. I’m test driving both right now.

I’m going to play a bit more to see if I can recreate that document I was working on in PDF form. Right now I am dropping info into folders, but haven’t seen a way to arrange things in random ways. In my project, this was a PDF about a house with a number of photos that followed text, but the photos did not go in filename order. So I’d drop them into the bottom of the document in the order they needed to be.

I think (but hope I’m wrong) that DEVON and Eagle act more like the Finder where you can sort by name or date but not manually?

I like both programs and it would be great if I could figure this out to use them for this too, I’ve only been using them for 10 days so definitely new at this!