Preview isn't previewing pdfs properly
October 9, 2008 10:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm having trouble viewing pdfs using Preview on my Mac (OS 10.4.11). Parts of the document don't show up. I usually have to close the file and reopen it several times before the entire document renders properly. Has anyone else had this problem, and were you able to fix it? And, if so, how?

I should add that I tried downloading an alternate pdf viewer (Skim) to see if that would fix the problem, but it didn't. The pdfs themselves aren't bad, as they open just fine on my (Windows) laptop. They come from all different sources. As a data point, I don't notice this phenomenon on documents that are scanned from paper and then converted to pdf (like old articles).
posted by bluefly to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Best answer: I have this problem from time to time and just resort to using Adobe Reader. I always try to open things in Skim or Preview first, but there are times when I just can't get around it. When it happens, it appears to be the file and not a particular computer, since the last time it happened I tested it on four or five Macs and they all did the same thing.
posted by advicepig at 10:44 AM on October 9, 2008

Best answer: I run into this problem all the time on my Mac. It appears to be a problem with the PDF rendering engine that OSX uses. I do not know if Skim uses the built in rendering engine or its own based off of the OSX renderer.

The only answer I've found so far is to open the offending PDF in Acrobat.
posted by Ikazuchi at 11:05 AM on October 9, 2008

Preview, in my experience, is a pretty lousy program. I'd suggest sticking to Adobe Reader.
posted by lekvar at 12:02 PM on October 9, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks! I tried Adobe Reader, and it worked (mostly -- there are still problems when using TexShop to typeset in Latex; stuff still doesn't show up). I thought when Skim didn't work Adobe wouldn't either, which is why I asked this question.
posted by bluefly at 12:58 PM on October 9, 2008

I open PDFs often with Preview and rarely have problems, other than it's slow and has user interface problems. Adobe Reader sucks, too, just in different ways. I've seen PDFs render beautifully in Preview (part of the slowdown) which look like crap in Acrobat (not in error, just ugly).

Skim uses Apple's PDF Kit, so I'd expect the same problems as with Preview.
posted by D.C. at 1:26 PM on October 9, 2008

If scanned (image) files are fine then maybe you have a corrupt font cache FontFinagler can fix that.
posted by Lanark at 1:41 PM on October 9, 2008

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