enter image description here

Hi, I have an issue with PDFs that have been saved out of Adobe Illustrator CS5 (yes, I know, old) not displaying correctly in Apple Preview. In the attached image, the left side shows how the artwork is supposed to look, and the right side shows how it looks in Preview. Those white lines are not supposed to be going across the product image, and the drop shadow is also interfering with the product image. I can open the PDF in Acrobat 9 Pro, and it looks fine, as in the image on the right. Others without Acrobat see the image on the right. I've checked my settings in Illustrator and see no issues there and cannot figure out for the life of me why this is happening. Does Preview simply not play nice with PDFs from other software? Is this perhaps a non-issue with Illustrator CC and Preview? I need to figure this out, because this particular ad went to press in a magazine as shown in the image on the right!!

  • Just out of curiosity: What does the main image have to do with your product?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jul 17, 2015 at 7:24
  • The ad is in a magazine for Private Universities, so we were trying to speak to that environment. Jul 17, 2015 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


Apple's Preview has PDF rendering issues and should never be used as a proofing tool for press-destined (CMYK) artwork. It it only acceptable for RGB files. Preview is designed to be used by everyone and their cousin to view a number of file formats. It's not now and has never been a profession-level PDF viewer. Once you start using things like CMYK color, you've surpassed what Apple feels it's user base needs, therefore it's not well supported.

There's nothing you can do about the rendering issues in Preview, short of creating RGB artwork without any CMYK or Spot colors. However, even then there may be issues if you use transparency a great deal in the file set up.

It's up to Apple to fix this.

Until Apple gets around to actually caring about this and fixing it, use an Adobe product (Reader or Acrobat) to proof PDFs.

Note the actual PDF may be fine, it is merely Preview which incorrectly displays it. The only way to verify the PDF looks correct is to use Reader or Acrobat to view it.

  • (Didn't know that I wasn't supposed to post my reply as a separate answer and it got deleted, so pasting under here.) Thanks, Scott. To be clear, I'm not using Preview for anything. People inside my company who do not have Reader or Acrobat are opening PDFs in Preview and seeing these issues. The only time I launch Preview is to see what they're seeing. I have no idea what PDF reader the magazine is using and never received a proof of the ad. I suppose my work-around for now will be to send EPS files only and let the magazine(s) create the PDFs. Jul 17, 2015 at 19:00
  • If the magazine is a print publication.... they aren't using Preview. and most often even if it's a digital publication they aren't using Preview either. While you certainly always want a proof... I wouldn't be too concerned. As I posted, although Preview may have an issue rendering the PDF, chances are the PDF itself is fine.
    – Scott
    Jul 17, 2015 at 19:03
  • It is a print publication. Whatever the magazine is using, the ad went to press displaying incorrectly. If only they'd sent a proof... Frustrating. Jul 17, 2015 at 19:08
  • I'm sure it's fine then. Print production departments aren't using Preview for anything production related.
    – Scott
    Jul 17, 2015 at 19:10
  • But it wasn't fine. It ended up going to print with the white stripes through the product, as in the image on the right. Nothing much to be done about it after the fact, though. I just want to avoid this issue in the future. Jul 21, 2015 at 15:28

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.