4 Easy Ways to Combine Photos on Mac

Draw comparisons or create collages easily

by: - Last updated on: August 4th, 2022
Key Takeaways
  • Combining images is the process of joining two or more images horizontally, vertically, or grid-wise.
  • It comes in handy when you want to draw comparisons between multiple images or create collages, among other things.
  • macOS lets you combine photos on your Mac in four ways, as discussed below.

If your work involves working with photos, you may occasionally be required to combine photos, perhaps to create a collage, put two images side-by-side for comparison, or for any other reason.

combine photos on mac

IMAGE: Give Brigitta Schneiter (Unsplash)

On Mac, there are multiple ways to combine photos, each with its own benefits. Follow along as we walk you through the different methods to combine photos on Mac.

4 Ways to Combine Images on Mac

There are multiple ways to combine images on macOS. But we are listing the four popular and easy methods in this article.

  • Using Preview
  • Using Shortcuts
  • Using ImageMagick
  • Using GUI-Based Apps

Now, let’s go through each of them one by one.

Method 1: Use Preview to Combine Photos on Mac

Preview is the default image and PDF viewer on Mac. It’s pre-installed in macOS and offers all the necessary features you’ll ever need for basic image and PDF manipulation

However, that’s not all. Preview also lets you combine photos. One of the advantages of this method is that you get control over the final stitched image since you can position the images however you like.

Here’s how to combine photos on Mac using Preview:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Navigate to the folder that contains the images you want to combine.
  3. Right-click or Control-click on the first photo and select Get Info. Note down its width.
  4. Again, right-click on the second photo, select Get Info, and note its width. Do this for all the images you want to combine.
  5. Right-click on the first photo and select Duplicate. Double-click on the duplicate file to open it in Preview. (This is because when we combine images, we don’t want to lose the original image.)
  6. Click on Edit and choose Select All to select the entire image. Or press the Command + A keyboard shortcut.
  7. Go to Edit and select Cut to cut the selection (i.e., your photo). Or use the Command + X keyboard shortcut instead. Preview will prompt you that this action will convert the image to a PNG file (if it isn’t already). Hit Convert to proceed.
    converting image to png
  8. Click on Tools > Adjust Size. Here, uncheck the box for the Scale proportionally option.
    adding image width in preview setting
  9. Enter the sum of the width of all the images you want to combine in the Width field and hit OK.
  10. Go to Edit > Paste, or use the Command + V shortcut to paste the first photo, i.e., the image you cut in step 7.
  11. Again, open the second image in Preview and copy it. And then, go back to the first image in Preview and hit Command + V to paste it. Repeat this until you’ve added all the images you want to combine into a single image.
    images joined using preview
  12. Once done, click on File > Save or press the Command + S keyboard shortcut to save the file.

Once saved, you can either use the picture as is—i.e., in PNG format—or convert it into JPG. For the latter, with the image open in Preview, click File > Export. Here, click the Format dropdown button, select the desired output (JPG, in this case), and hit Save.

exporting combine image as jpg

Method 2: Combine Images on Mac Using Shortcuts

Shortcuts is an automation utility for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It has various macros (called shortcuts) in its gallery that allow you to carry out various operations quickly and efficiently. Plus, if there’s something you want to achieve for which there’s no shortcut, you have the option to create a custom one by combining different actions.

Utilizing the latter, a Shortcut user on the internet created a shortcut for combining images. And that’s what we’ll be using in this method. Download the shortcut from the link below and add it to your Shortcuts gallery.

Download: Combine Images shortcut

After this, we need to modify this shortcut to make it work on Mac. For this, open the Shortcuts app and search for the Combine Images shortcut. Double-click on it and hit the Shortcut Details buttons on the right pane. Here, tick the checkboxes for Use as Quick Action and Finder.

Once done, you can now combine photos on Mac using this shortcut as shown in the steps below:

  1. Open Finder and navigate to the location that contains the pictures you want to stitch together.
  2. Select the images, right-click on the selection, and choose Quick Actions > Combine Images from the menu.
    running combine images shortcut
  3. When the Combine Images shortcut runs, it will ask you to choose the order in which you want the images to be stitched. Select an appropriate option and hit Done.
    selecting order of images in combine images shortcut
  4. When prompted for image spacing, enter a number and click Done.
  5. Select the style in which you want to combine images and hit Done. Available options include horizontally, vertically, and grid.
    choosing image layout in combine images shortcut
  6. Once the image is stitched, you’ll see its preview in a window. Click on the Open with Preview button in this window.
    opening combined image in preview
  7. Click on File > Save or press the Command + S shortcut to bring up the file saving options.
  8. Give the file a name, select the appropriate options, and hit Save to save the file.
    saving combine image

Method 3: Use ImageMagick to Combine Photos

ImageMagick is a free CLI utility for manipulating images on Mac from the terminal. It requires you to use a few simple commands, and you can use it for more than just stitching images together.

Although ImageMagick offers convenience compared to the manual method, it doesn’t give you as much flexibility when adjusting images as the manual method.

To combine photos on Mac using ImageMagick, you need to install it first. Open the Terminal app and run the following command to do this:

brew install imagemagick

With ImageMagick installed, here’s how to use it:

  1. Put all the image files you want to combine into a single folder on your Desktop. Let’s call this folder Images.
  2. Open the Terminal.
  3. Navigate to the Images folder by running:
    cd Desktop
    cd Images

    Once inside the folder, run ls to verify if the images you want to combine are present.
  4. Now, depending on how you want to stitch the images together, use either +append (to combine images horizontally) or -append (to combine images vertically) option. Follow the syntax below for your command:
    convert +append image1.jpg image2.jpg final_image.jpg

Here, replace image1.jpg and image2.jpg with the names of the files you want to combine and final_image.jpg with the name you want to give to your final image.

ImageMagick will now join the images you’ve passed in the command above and return you the combined image in your current working directory.

Method 4: Combine Images on Mac Using GUI-Based Apps

If you aren’t comfortable using the Terminal or want a simpler way to combine images on Mac, you can use third-party GUI-based apps. Such apps are easy to use, and since they are dedicated to a specific operation, you get a bunch of useful options, such as different layout templates, which make stitching pictures easy and give you more control over the final image.

Here are some of the best third-party apps to combine pictures on Mac:

  1. Union
  2. Mixgram
  3. Photo Collage Maker
  4. Tunacan

Joining Images Horizontally or Vertically on Mac Simplified

Many PDF and image manipulation operations appear challenging on Mac until you’re familiar with the true potential of Preview. Joining images is one of the many such tasks that Preview simplifies greatly on Mac.

Of course, it’s undeniable that tools like Photoshop or GIMP offer greater flexibility and control over image manipulation. But those advantages come at a cost: they require a subscription and expertise with the tool. Preview and the other methods, in contrast, are easy and do the job effectively.

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