I have a file in Photoshop CS5 that has a photo on a layer that is cropped with a clipping mask (just a black rectangle). In Photoshop the image appears correctly but when I save as a PDF and open that in Adobe Reader or Apple Preview it shows a thin border around the image.

I've tried saving it as PDF 1.7 and X-4:2008 instead of the default versions but that didn't affect it. How do I prevent an outline around my image when I export to PDF?

  • 2
    Does it appear at any zoom level, or only at some? Have you tried printing it to see if it appears in print? Sometimes there are unexplained artefacts in PDF previews that aren't there in print or at different zoom levels.
    – Dom
    Oct 12, 2013 at 13:28
  • 1
    Please take into account that most, if not all, pdf viewers are positively horrible at accurately rendering print-ready pdfs on screen.
    – Vincent
    Jul 9, 2014 at 15:07

2 Answers 2



Do one of the following solutions:

Solution 1: Export as PDF 1.4 or later. In the Export Adobe PDF General settings, select Acrobat 5 (PDF 1.4) or higher from the Compatibility options.

Solution 2: Turn off the Smooth Line Art option in Acrobat. Choose Edit > Preferences (Windows), or Acrobat > Preferences (Mac OS) to open the preference dialog box. In Categories > Page Display deselect the option Smooth Line Art, and then click OK. Solution 3: Convert spot color to process color. Choose Window > Swatches to open the Swatches palette. Double-click the spot color to open the Swatch Options dialog box. Choose Process from the Color Type pop-up menu. Solution 4: Move the spot color to the top of the layer. Change the stacking order of the objects, so that the object with the spot color is at the top, before flattening the image.

Select the object. Choose Object > Arrange > Bring to Front. Solution 5: Use layers to arrange the colors. Place the spot colored object on a different layer, then arrange that layer above the layer that contains the transparent objects.

Solution 6: Set the opacity for the spot color to less than 100% and export to PDF again. If your print shows dark lines on the printout of a created PDF file, then lower the opacity and create the PDF file again.

Select the object that contains the spot color. Choose Window > Transparency to open the Transparency palette. In the Opacity field, enter a value like 99.9%. Export or print to PDF again


I suppose that the priority for you is to keep that transparency after exporting this file to the pdf format. I can't figure out why but definitely you want to. Because if you don't, you can duplicate this file, merge all layers and export once again without any transparency.

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