I just saved an .ai file as a .pdf and opened it afterwards to check size and quality. This is when I noticed the saved file was lower in both color and resolution, than the original .ai file.

After some resaving and playing with settings, I decided to open the file in Google Chrome. This shows the file in full-res and with the right colors.

The question now is: Why does it do this in Preview on Mac OS X? What is the factor that kills resolution and color? Is there a fix for Preview, or should I start using a different PDF-viewer?

See the following file for an example of quality difference (Preview > Illustrator > Chrome) enter image description here

Link to high-res image

1 Answer 1


Preview is simply a terrible PDF viewer. It has many rendering issues with PDFs.

Preview is designed by Apple to view PDFs for average home end-users. It is not designed to be a professional PDF viewer. Apple simply appears to not be concerned with many rendering issues in Preview where PDFs are concerned. What you are describing I'd actually call one of the more minor issues with Preview's PDF render engine. For example, try using spot colors in a PDF and view it in Preview.....

If you want accurate display of PDFs use Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat.

  • Horrible. At first I thought something was wrong with the way I was saving the file. I've seen it before with colors, which displayed different from the original file. Will drop Preview for PDF files. Thanks for your answer!
    – Rvervuurt
    Oct 29, 2014 at 9:48
  • Next to that, Preview is horribly slow compared to the PDF-viewer in Chrome. So, good riddance!
    – Rvervuurt
    Oct 29, 2014 at 9:57
  • Browser PDF render engines aren't much better than Preview.
    – Scott
    Oct 29, 2014 at 14:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.