7 Replies Latest reply: Dec 13, 2013 12:18 PM by PJ'sPal
KRDHarris Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)

Problem (A)


When I try to open some PDFs, such as uscis.gov/files/form/n-400.pdf with OS X Preview, I get the error message:


"Please wait...

If this message is not eventually replaced by the proper contents of the document, your PDF viewer may not be able to display this type of document.

You can upgrade to the latest version of Adobe Reader for Windows®, Mac, or Linux® by visiting http://www.adobe.com/go/reader_download.

For more assistance with Adobe Reader visit http://www.adobe.com/go/acrreader.

Windows is either a registered trademark or a trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Mac is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the United States and other countries. Linux is the registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the U.S. and other countries."


Apple presents Preview as being a better substitute for Adobe Reader, but in this case it does not work at all. (I think this may relate to PDFs with entry fields in them.)


Problem (B)


If I set the documents having this problem to be opened with Adobe Reader instead of Preview, the next time I save them from Adobe Reader, they are reset to open with Preview again.


I thus have to always do Open with… for them, or else set all my PDF documents to be opened with Adobe Reader.


Can anyone offer any workarounds for problem (A) or (B)?


Does anyone know Apple's position on problem (A)? Will they eventually fix Preview so that it opens PDF documents such as the one above, or will Preview only ever work on a sub-set of PDF documents?


If Adobe is refusing to provide Apple the information needed to open certain types of PDF documents, does anyone know Adobe's position on this?


Thank you

iMac, Mac OS X (10.7.4), 27" 2.93 GHz i7 12 GB RAM
  • Richard E. Cooke Level 2 Level 2 (220 points)

    heh.  Adobe protects its Intllectual Property very vigorously!


    There is no way for ANYBODY to get "easy" access to the latest tricks Adobe has incorporated.  Apple will only add support for whatever feature in PDF is causing this when its not illegal.  Right now, all the latest PDF stuff is protected by several patents.


    I *thought* that when you installed the real Acrobat Reader, it took over from Preview?


    What I would do is always let Preview try and open it. If it fails, curse Adobe out loud a few times, then close Preview and right-click and choose Acrobat.


    Curse Lawyers.  Then Adobe some more - they deserve it for FLASH!


    By the way, I have used Preview to fill-out some PDF forms.  There must be something "special" about the ones you have.  I was even able to save my form with data - real acrobat would not let me save.

  • KRDHarris Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)

    Thanks for the insight Richard. I too have used Preview to fill in forms, using the Annotation feature too where necessary.


    Yes, the files I am having trouble with (from the USA government) must be "special" in some way. I just looked in their File Properties, and saw they were created using Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES 9.0; maybe this is the problem? The File Properties also state that the file can be opened by Adobe Acrobat 7.0 and later. Is there anything else in File Properties I should be checking?


    I thought Adobe released PDF as an open standard (ISO 32000), so if Adobe are adding "tricks" then the resulting file would not be PDF.


    Given that I know these files can only be opened by Acrobat, I would like to set them that way, but continue to use Preview for all other PDFs. The Finder has a setting for the preferred application for individual files, as well as for all files of the same type. However, a file save from Adobe Reader changes the preferred app from Adobe Reader back to Preview, which is very odd. (I should have thought Adobe Reader would want to keep the app setting as itself, but maybe OS X is doing this?)

  • Richard E. Cooke Level 2 Level 2 (220 points)

    Ah, I'm showing my age!  When I was a kid, it was soooooo ilegal to write your own PDF reader or printer driver.


    I have to read up.  First thing I see on your linked page is the standard does not cover all aspects:

    ISO 32000-1:2008 does not specify the following:

    • specific processes for converting paper or electronic documents to the PDF format;

    • specific technical design, user interface or implementation or operational details of rendering;

    • specific physical methods of storing these documents such as media and storage conditions;

    • methods for validating the conformance of PDF files or readers;

    • required computer hardware and/or operating system.


    Which leaves wiggle room for Adobe to make "improvements" to their file structure.  Not clear if they would have to reveal what they change either.


    Ah, here we go on Wikipedia:



    Adobe is not following the standard.  They claim ISO has agreed to adopt the "extensions" to the standard Adobe is curretnly using in the next release.


    Until the standard is released nobody will add it to their software.


    So, until then your going to find things that only work in Adobe Reader.

  • Richard E. Cooke Level 2 Level 2 (220 points)

    What version O/S do you have?  10.7.4 is latest.


    I have something for you to try.  I'm reading that Lion supports two different types of file-type association.  That is, in addition to a global ".PDF opens with Preview" you can also have a file-by-file setting to over-ride the global one and have it open is something else - like Adobe Reader.


    So, how about you test this out to see if its true?


    First chainge your global .PDF back to Preview:



    Or reset everything  back to defaults:



    Then when you come accross something that won't open in Preview, use this to set just that file to open in Adobe Reader:

    http://osxdaily.com/2011/08/15/easily-set-file-association-in-mac-os-x-lion-usin g-always-open-with-app/


    There is also a utility for controlling the file-type settings - but - I don't know if it supports this new feature:



    (if this a new feature and hasn't been around all along and I just didn't know about it)

  • PJ'sPal Level 1 Level 1 (50 points)

    Another year later, I am having the same problem with newly recleased forms fillable forms from the USPTO.   There are settings in Adobe's LifeCycle to make the generated forms more user friendly.  The USPTO may not be using them. 

    The work around is to print out a hard copy and scan it back into a PDF format.  Then use preview to redact and edit the PDF as needed. 

  • Richard E. Cooke Level 2 Level 2 (220 points)

    Why not just install the latest Adobe Reader?  As I posted earlier, you can speicfy just the one problem file be opened in Adobe Acrobat Reader so you can fill in the form.


    Of course the free reader cannot save filled in forms....  You have to pay for that.


    But it would be less work to print them out, and scan them in after you fill them out if you want a record.

  • PJ'sPal Level 1 Level 1 (50 points)

    Mr. Cooke:


    We have to be able to save the forms so we can upload them to the US government.

    I have Acrobat Pro 9.0 that I have purchased about 6 copies for my employees and can fill in the forms and save them. 

    The trouble is that Acrobat Pro 9.0 is a terrible editor, particulalry when it comes to changing fonts or underling.

    If that were not the case, I would not be having this problem.


    I have not updated to X or XI because the prices for Mac copies were exhorbitant, particularly in comparison with that available on the PC.  We don't even use Acrobat Pro to generate forms.  We only use it to fill in and save.


    I think later versions of reader may be able to save the filled in contents but I have been using pro for so long, I appreciate being able to insert pages, extract pages, etc. that reader can not do.