Mac users have trouble using Apple Preview to Fill PDFs

Macworld has a useful post on why some PDF forms don’t display their fields correctly in Apple Preview app.

This is a problem that is 4 years old now: The Preview app/program isn’t setting the appearance flag that Acrobat/Reader require to show the contents of the form fields.

See for more info.

There’s some enterprising workarounds out there:

The script at the Adobe blog page above can be installed in Acrobat (not Reader) and fixes the forms filled out in Preview, which can help the recipients of the forms, but still doesn’t address the root of the problem.

Of course, the best work-around is to simply use Acrobat or Reader rather than Preview until this issue is fixed by Apple.

I didn’t say that Preview wasn’t filling in the data correctly. It’s not setting the appearance flag correctly, causing that data not to show (unless the field is clicked on – or “in focus”) And sure, you could go back and forth pointing fingers and laying blame, (and get nowhere) but bottom line, Adobe created PDF and why should they have to adapt to Apple’s non-compliance? Sure – it would be nice if Acrobat and Reader weren’t quite so sticky about things, but that’s not the case and I don’t see Adobe willingly devoting any resources to this issue; after all, why would they want to encourage people to use Preview over their own products? It truly doesn’t matter who is “correct” – Adobe has acknowledged the problem, provided scripts on their website to help resolve it for recipients of filled in forms from Preview users, and have informed Apple that they need to fix Preview. So, given this scenario, whether we like it or not (and I’m no apologist for Adobe, believe me) it makes sense for Apple to fix the problem. But they haven’t. I’d love to know why not.

There is an additional script on Adobe’s website here:


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.