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Question: Preview app: adding a note disables search

I'm trying to use the Preview app to annotate PDFs. However, after adding a note from the Annotate tools the search function no longer produces any results - either in the body of the PDF or in the note. Is there a fix for this? I'm using macOS 10.13.1

Separately, it would be great if the search function turned up results from text added with the annotate tools, or if this text showed up when showing highlights and notes in the sidebar

iMac, macOS High Sierra (10.13.1)

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Nov 13, 2017 3:00 PM in response to tedhuntley In response to tedhuntley

Hello tedhuntley,

Thanks for that info and choosing the Apple Support Communities. If I understand correctly, you are having issues with PDFs in the Preview app on your Mac. You can figure out if unexpected behavior is related to a user file or setting by trying to reproduce the issue from another user account. This process includes creating a new user account, logging in to it, and testing for the issue.

How to test an issue in another user account on your Mac

Next, use safe mode to start up your Mac as it does the following things:

  • Verifies your startup disk and attempts to repair directory issues, if needed
  • Loads only required kernel extensions
  • Prevents startup items and login items from opening automatically
  • Disables user-installed fonts
  • Deletes font caches, kernel cache, and other system cache files

Log into your user account and test the issue while in safe mode and then restart normally and test the issue again.

Use safe mode to isolate issues with your Mac
Limited graphics performance in OS X recovery or safe mode


Nov 13, 2017 3:00 PM

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Jan 8, 2018 11:25 AM in response to tedhuntley In response to tedhuntley


I am seeing this in High Sierra (10.13.1) too. I can search a PDF in preview just fine. Then add a note and I cannot search the note nor the PDF. I can delete the note and I can search again.

I get the same response from a guest account and when booted up in safe mode. In safe mode the notes do not draw properly, but they are there and can be seen from the thumbnails. As long as there is any note, the search function is broke.

I reported this to Apple via their Feedback Assistant, #3940669.

The workaround is to have a duplicate of the PDF, one for searching and one for adding notes and comments.



Jan 8, 2018 11:25 AM

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Question: Preview app: adding a note disables search