How to Enable Markup Annotation Tools in macOS

by

Recognizing the utility of Markup annotation tools, Apple has extended their availability in recent versions of iOS, but it's worth bearing in mind that you can access a similar and equally useful annotation toolset within several native Mac applications.

In macOS, accessing an application's Markup toolbar lets you draw on and annotate images or PDF documents within the app using arrows, shapes, and text. You can also use it to quickly sign a document with your digital signature.

macos markup tools
We've highlighted which native apps support Markup in this article. But before you can access the toolset in desktop apps, you'll need to check that the relevant extension is enabled on your Mac. Keep reading to learn how it's done.

How to Enable the Markup Extension in macOS

  1. Click the Apple () symbol in your Mac's menu bar and select System Preferences....
    macos extensions

  2. Click the Extensions preference pane.

  3. Click Actions in the left column of the Extension pane.
    macos Markup extension

  4. If it isn't already ticked, click on the box next to the Markup extension in the right column.

macos mail markup
One of the most useful Markup integrations can be found in Mail. Once you've dragged an image into your message, hover your mouse cursor over it, click the arrow button that appears in the upper right corner, and select Markup from the dropdown menu.

macos mail markup 2
Your attached image will be foregrounded with the Markup toolbar across the top, ready for you to apply your annotations.

Markup can be accessed in the same manner within TextEdit as well as some third-party document editors. To test whether it's available, simply hover your cursor over the image once it's inside your document and look for the arrow in the upper right corner.

macos preview markup
In Preview, the Markup toolbar has its own button next to the Search input field on the right of the taskbar. You also get a few extra Markup tools here, like Adjust Color, Adjust Size, and Crop, so if you can't annotate an image within your application of choice then Preview should be your next stop.

macos photos markup
Finally, the Markup toolset is also accessible in Apple's Photos application: Next time you're editing an image, click the Extensions icon (the three dots in a circle) and select Markup to enter annotation mode.

Top Rated Comments

syklee26 Avatar
36 months ago
Apple pencil support (on trackpad) with more expansive markup tools in macos would be awesome.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chucker23n1 Avatar
36 months ago

I browse the internet on an iPad docked to a keyboard/case. No reason this can't happen on a Macbook as well.

There are plenty of reasons. There's plenty Apple would need to do to change macOS to make it suitable for touch, such as adding a virtual keyboard, making the controls suitable in size for touch targets, changing the gestures, …. And you'd roughly end up with the touch experience of Windows 7, which wasn't great.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
satchmo Avatar
36 months ago

Apple pencil support (on trackpad) with more expansive markup tools in macos would be awesome.

I'll go further and suggest touch screens on all Apple products.
I don't understand the opposition.

No, you're not going to draw vertically on an iMac or laptop. But there are plenty of times where a quick finger touch to select a button is quicker than a cursor.

Make it optional. If you don't like using touch...guess what...don't touch the screen.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chucker23n1 Avatar
36 months ago
Having Markup available in many places (such as Mail and Notes) is cool, but in practice I find the annotation tools a bit baffling. Maybe I just need to get used to them. I want a highlight pen like in Windows Snipping Tool.

Is there a third-party extension that does this?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

bloodoxygenapplewatch

Apple Watch Series 7 Rumored to Feature Blood Glucose Monitoring

Monday January 25, 2021 5:05 am PST by
The Apple Watch Series 7 will reportedly feature blood glucose monitoring via an optical sensor, according to ETNews. The report, which mainly focuses on the blood glucose capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, explains that Apple is intending to bring blood glucose monitoring to the upcoming Apple Watch Series 7 using a non-invasive optical sensor. Measuring blood glucose levels,...
magsafecasedangle

Apple Elaborates on Potential for iPhone 12 and MagSafe Accessories to Interfere With Implantable Medical Devices

Saturday January 23, 2021 2:42 pm PST by
Since the launch of iPhone 12 models in October, Apple has acknowledged that the devices may cause electromagnetic interference with medical devices like pacemakers and defibrillators, but the company has now shared additional information. Apple added the following paragraph to a related support document today:Medical devices such as implanted pacemakers and defibrillators might contain...
14

Apple Releases iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 With New Camera Warnings and Bug Fixes

Tuesday January 26, 2021 10:04 am PST by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.4, the fourth major updates to the iOS 14 operating system that was initially released in September. iOS and iPadOS 14.4 come more than a month after the release of iOS and iPadOS 14.3, updates that brought new emojis, Intercom support, and more. The iOS and iPadOS 14.4 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible...
Top Stories 44 Feature

Top Stories: 'Thinner and Lighter' MacBook Air, Smaller iPhone 13 Notch, iOS 14.4 Incoming

Saturday January 23, 2021 6:00 am PST by
We continued to hear a lot more about Apple's plans for its Mac lineup this week, including word of a high-end redesigned MacBook Air and the return of an SD card slot as part of the upcoming MacBook Pro redesign. It also sounds like Apple has been working on Face ID for Mac, but it won't be appearing in a redesigned iMac this year as originally planned. This week also saw rumors about the...
14

Apple Releasing iOS 14.4 and watchOS 7.3 Later Today

Tuesday January 26, 2021 7:20 am PST by
In its Black History Month announcement this morning, Apple has confirmed that iOS 14.4 and watchOS 7.3 will be released later today. watchOS 7.3 expands the ECG app on the Apple Watch Series 4 and newer to Japan, Mayotte, Thailand, and the Philippines, while iOS 14.4 introduces a notification on iPhone 12 models with non-genuine cameras. Both software updates also add support for a new...
maxresdefault

Microsoft Touts Surface Pro 7 as 'The Better Choice' Over MacBook Pro in New Ad

Saturday January 23, 2021 11:02 am PST by
Microsoft yesterday shared a new ad on YouTube titled "Microsoft Surface Pro 7: The Better Choice," in which the company compares its tablet computer to Apple's 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro, as spotted by MSPoweruser. The ad highlights the Surface Pro 7's touchscreen and included stylus as opposed to only a "little bar" (the Touch Bar) on the MacBook Pro. Other advantages of the Surface Pro 7...
apple watch black unity

Apple Celebrates Black History Month With Limited-Edition Watch, Featured Apps and Books, and More

Tuesday January 26, 2021 6:14 am PST by
Apple today announced that it will be celebrating Black History Month with curated content that highlights and amplifies Black creators, artists, developers, and businesses across the App Store, Apple Music, the Apple TV app, Apple Books, Apple Podcasts, and more. The content will be featured throughout the month of February. Black Unity Sport Band has "Truth. Power. Solidarity." ...
7

Apple Releases watchOS 7.3 With Unity Watch Face, Expanded ECG Availability and More

Tuesday January 26, 2021 10:03 am PST by
Apple today released watchOS 7.3, the third major update to the watchOS 7 operating system that was released in September. watchOS 7.3 comes more than a month after watchOS 7.2, an update that brought support for Apple Fitness+ ‌‌The watchOS 7.3 update‌‌ can be downloaded for free through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General > Software Update. To install...
time to walk apple watch

Apple Fitness+ Feature 'Time to Walk' Launching Soon With Audio Stories From Special Guests

Saturday January 23, 2021 7:13 pm PST by
Earlier this week, Apple seeded the watchOS 7.3 Release Candidate, which is typically the final beta version of a software update. The release notes for the update list a new "Time to Walk" feature for Apple Fitness+ subscribers, described as "an audio experience in the Workout app where guests share inspiring stories as you walk." Apple Fitness+ subscribers will be able to open the Workout...
apple dan riccio

Dan Riccio Transitioning to New Project, John Ternus to Lead Apple's Hardware Engineering Team

Monday January 25, 2021 2:05 pm PST by
Apple today announced that current Apple hardware engineering SVP Dan Riccio is transitioning to a new role where he will focus on an unspecified project, with John Ternus set to take over as Apple's senior vice president of hardware engineering. In a statement, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that Riccio made Apple a better and more innovative company, and that Ternus will bring a deep expertise...