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4. Keep in Contact

Preview taps into the standard OS X Slideshow feature via the View menu. Besides being useful for displaying images, you can also use the Slideshow to create quick-and-dirty contact sheets. A contact sheet is a visual index to a batch of files: a single image containing thumbnails of all of the images in the collection.

Start a slideshow via the View menu item (or by pressing Shift+Command+F) and then move the cursor toward the bottom of the screen until a row of buttons appears.

One of the buttons is the Index Sheet button. Click it, and instead of seeing one image at a time, you’ll see them all at once. The order depends on how they were arranged in the Drawer. Copy a screenshot to the clipboard by pressing Shift+Command+Control+3, and then press the Escape key to return to Preview. Choose New from Clipboard (Command+N) from the File menu—lo and behold, the Index Sheet is pasted into an image file, ready to be saved in whatever format you prefer.

There are a couple of limitations to this trick, though. First, unlike proper contact sheets, the ones produced contain only thumbnails of the images, not other information (such as file name and file size).

Second, because what you’re producing is only a screenshot of the Index Sheet, you’re stuck with its layout and style, which includes placing a grey border around one of the images and superimposing the file name on top of it as well. This flaw can actually be turned into a useful way to label the contact sheet. Create a black image file and give it an informative name (for example, Tanzania October 2006.PNG, as in the example shown here).

To create the black image file, simply duplicate an existing image and use the image correction sliders (discussed next) to reduce the brightness and contrast to zero. Include this image with the batch of files, open them all up, place the cursor over the black image so that the name appears in the Index Sheet, and take the screenshot. Hey presto, a nicely labeled contact sheet.

Figure 4

Figure 4 Quickly create contact sheets by taking screenshots of the slideshow Index Sheet.

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