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I appreciate the feedback, but, no, I'm not sending sensitive financial documents to a company that sells fundamentally dysfunctional, buggy software without any warranty and then wasting more time and effort helping them debug it. I'm cutting my losses at eighty bucks and a bunch of wasted hours on my part and that of a critical financial partner. Unacceptable. I'm not an Adobe fan, but the next time I need to deal with PDFs like this, I expect I'll be using Acrobat.
I first purchased PDFpenPro back in 2013, at version 6.0.5. I never did see any advantage it had over Preview and Acrobat, but I stuck with it, all through the (paid) updates.

By the time September 2016 rolled around, the next (paid) update was version 8.x, which I purchased in spite of never really using the program. I just felt it was good backup, in case it offered features that my other apps did not have.

Finally April 2017 came around and yet another paid update, just seven months from the last one! After encountering several bugs in the program, and never having used it for anything, I gave up. I still have yet to hear about a single virtue it has over Preview or Acrobat DC.

By the way, for light use, Adobe Acrobat Reader DC might be sufficient. I keep a copy for myself, so I can be familiar enough with it to recommend it to my average client.
 


By the way, for light use, Adobe Acrobat Reader DC might be sufficient. I keep a copy for myself, so I can be familiar enough with it to recommend it to my average client.
I am also not a great fan of Adobe. I have an old version of Photoshop Elements, which still works under El Capitan. That is all the additional photo editing I need besides iPhoto or Photos. And for PDFs, while Preview works well for viewing and merging/deleting, for fill-in PDFs, I find Acrobat Reader DC works very well. Besides fill-in forms for taxes, many rebate forms are also of the fill-in type. By using Reader DC, I can add the necessary info, save, and print. Much better than my handwritten attempts, which are often hard to read.
 


With all this talk about PDFs, something that has been very useful to me, when trying to create PDFs from existing documents, is PDFwriter.

Sometimes I encounter a program (such as Acrobat with some forms) that hijacks the macOS printing mechanism and makes it hard or impossible to use the standard methods of "print to PDF", "Save as PDF", or "Open in Preview" that usually allow me to generate a PDF. Basically, some people only want you to print some documents onto paper.

PDFwriter creates a virtual printer that then creates the PDF. It seems to have not been updated in a while (2011!), and as I recall, it took a few more steps after running the installer to get things working. (Instead of using the Generic Postscript Printer, pick Other.. and navigate to /Library/Printers/Lisanet/PDFwriter/pdfwriter.ppd).

It dumps the created PDFs into folders in
/private/var/spool/pdfwriter​
so I created an alias to that folder in /Users/Shared, so it is easier to access (or maybe the installer made the alias?). I have not tested it to see if it works in Mojave, but it does in High Sierra.

In any case, I do not use it often, but it is great when I do need it.
 


Unfortunately, I frequently have to deal with a variety of PDF documents. It seems that every authoring/editing program does different little kinky things that don't always map well into how another program views/acts upon the file. In particular, text boxes and things like check boxes, and movement around a file are wildly different.

I'm using PDFpen Pro, and it works as well or better than anything else for me. My understanding is that Adobe Acrobat can't be purchased standalone, but must be part of a subscription?

I hadn't been aware the Preview could edit PDF text. I've used the program quite a bit with an all-in-one HP printer to quickly grab JPEGs and scan necessary documents. I tried playing with Preview for a bit, but it seems - at least with the US Gov's DS-11 form - that if I wish to enter something, I have to click in the document where I want to type, then go to the tool bar and select the type icon, then hunt for where Preview put the word TEXT, click on it, and type over the text. This obviously is a real pain, but I can't see any way to get it into text mode without the above steps. And I have to do this every time I need to move to another place on the page. Have I missed something here?

PDFpen Pro does allow me to assume text mode and move about the page without all the choose, select, type, move actions. Still, despite giving the program a bit of praise, I agree with the general sentiment. It doesn't seem that there is a really competent tool for dealing with existing PDF documents.
 


With all this talk about PDFs, something that has been very useful to me, when trying to create PDFs from existing documents, is PDFwriter.
A similar option is the strangley-named VipRiser. It is still under active development and the free version provides all those same benefits (with, I think, a lot more flexibility).

I have no connection with the developers but have been using it (occasionally) for 9 years
 


A similar option is the strangley-named VipRiser. It is still under active development and the free version provides all those same benefits (with, I think, a lot more flexibility).
I have no connection with the developers but have been using it (occasionally) for 9 years
Good to know! That led me to CUPS-PDF, which seems work very much like PDFwriter but seems to be more recent. I also see that the VipRiser website seems to indicate CUPS-PDF has some unspecified issues with macOS 10.14.
 


I've used PDFPen Pro for several years as an adjunct to Preview and Adobe Acrobat Pro. I used it principally for PDF touchup prior to printing.

I owned a UPS Store and used PDFPen Pro to do some touchup of customer-supplied PDF files when Acrobat Pro would not provide me functionality to do so for one reason or another. Typically it was things like touching up or substituting color graphics with ones optimized for B&W printing or higher quality that the ones in the original PDF, fixing minor spelling errors, or in some cases, changing the ad I ran in the customer's newsletter. It generally worked fine for those purposes, although on occasion touched-up text would either disappear or wholly change print metrics. Acrobat Pro would not allow me to make or even attempt those same changes too often.

I did not like it for using 'typewriter'-type functionality to overlay text in form areas on forms not prepped for electronic completion (no fields). Like Preview, every time you click, it drops a text box either in the middle of the form (forcing me to drag it to the right location) or on some invisible grid (which I never found a way to turn off), so the text didn't line up well (forcing me to command-drag it to the proper location). It was too tedious by comparison to Acrobat's typewriter function.

I always used Acrobat's various conversions to change RGB->CMYK, since too many (Microsoft) app-produced PDFs write RGB whether the text was black or not.
 


I thought about that, but I'm a little afraid to screw things up with my Apple ID/App Store account, considering how much Apple has entangled in it. (I don't see myself buying more software from the Mac App Store, though, if I can possibly avoid it....)
I would call your credit card company and talk with them. They can tell you whether you have a case. It is important that you at least report your experience.
 


I don't know what others' experience has been with PDFpen 11, but mine has been bad ... it has caused me a lot of lost time and trouble when trying to complete a very simple IRS form, and I wouldn't recommend it.
Just a thought, but have you tried deleting the Mac App Store version and downloading a free trial of PDFpen 11 from the developer's website? Sometimes there can be differences in behavior when comparing Mac App Store and "direct" versions of the same app, due to sandboxing, etc.

And a bonus thought, if that does work out favorably: Have you thought of contacting the developer? Some developers will give you a "direct" license if you send them your Mac App Store proof of purchase.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Just a thought, but ... And a bonus thought ...
As I mentioned in a subsequent post, I'm cutting my losses at this point and have no interest in wasting any more time or money on a grossly defective product for which I am unable to get a refund from the Mac App Store, where I foolishly purchased it after trying a limited demo version.

An app that deletes your changes when you save a simple document? I can't remember the last Mac software I purchased that was this bad. (Note, I did not purchase the "Pro" version — the "regular" version was already $80.)

Just think about contrasting examples... You can buy Affinity Publisher for $50, for instance, and it's not only orders of magnitude more powerful, and 40% less expensive, but it actually works. On the first release. I'm pretty sure Adobe Acrobat works, too.
 


You can buy Affinity Publisher for $50, for instance, and it's not only orders of magnitude more powerful, and 40% less expensive, but it actually works.
So very true. And, possibly relevant to this discussion, the Publisher update released today seems to contain several PDF-related fixes and improvements.
 


Another stupid Preview.app trick (in Mojave) involving the highlighting of text using the Highlight Text annotation tool:

I read a lot of technical journal article PDFs where the references are hyperlinked to the bibliography. Highlighting text containing those references prevents the hyperlinks from working. This is annoying enough but is particularly bothersome because the text I highlight is deemed important and I likely want to look up the references. What were they thinking?

#applequality #appleui
 


Another stupid Preview.app trick (in Mojave) involving the highlighting of text using the Highlight Text annotation tool: I read a lot of technical journal article PDFs where the references are hyperlinked to the bibliography. Highlighting text containing those references prevents the hyperlinks from working. This is annoying enough but is particularly bothersome because the text I highlight is deemed important and I likely want to look up the references. What were they thinking?
Did you file a bug report to Apple (https://feedbackassistant.apple.com)? If not, please do.
 


I just encountered a new problem with PDFs from a customer. When displayed by Preview.app, all text is gibberish (I can't attache a screenshot but it looks sorta like: Rf c em_j mdrf gqrp_). The characters are all Roman, but the kerning is odd and overlapping. Graphical boxes and elements look fine. If I copy the gibberish text and paste somewhere, like here, it looks fine: "The goal of this training program is to provide..." If I view the PDF in Adobe Reader, it displays properly.

The customer started creating PDFs with Foxit’s PhantomPDF to convert from the Windows Word files, so it's probably somewhere in that process. Any ideas what settings to have him try to change so the PDFs open properly in Preview?
 


I just encountered a new problem with PDFs from a customer. When displayed by Preview.app, all text is gibberish...
PDFs mangled like this are more common than you may think. I frequently get files that look like this if I view them in Firefox's built-in PDF viewer, forcing me to use Adobe Reader.

I'm not sure what the cause is, but I suspect it's due to the document requiring some font that isn't available so the viewer substitutes a different font. The kerning is all messed up because the PDF is explicitly positioning each letter (in order to represent the justification and kerning created by the originating application).

Why it looks OK in Adobe Reader? I'm not sure but I suspect the required font is embedded in the PDF but is not being used by the third-party viewing applications.

It might be interesting to see what fonts are used in the mangled documents. If it is possible to re-format the document using a font known to be available universally (e.g. Times New Roman or Helvetica), that might (or might not) fix this problem.
 


PDFs mangled like this are more common than you may think. I frequently get files that look like this if I view them in Firefox's built-in PDF viewer, forcing me to use Adobe Reader.
I did a little more digging and the version of PhantomPDF they were using was extremely old (current is 9.7, they used 6.0.4). I asked them to update or use try something else so they swapped to the current version of "PDF XChangeEditor" and the resulting PDFs look great in Preview.
 


Can someone confirm this?

Mojave, Preview.app: imported some iPhone images I took. I wanted to remove the EXIF data, but Preview (tools) inspector won't allow. If I recall correctly, you used to be able to remove/delete that data?

Although I was able to open the images in Affinity Photo and resave/export as Jpegs without EXIF data, I found an app (exifPurge) that bulk-removed EXIF (the app has an annoying ad for their watermark utility).

I needed this to post some images I am listing for sale and didn't want all the data embedded.
 


Can someone confirm this? Mojave, Preview.app: imported some iPhone images I took. I wanted to remove the EXIF data, but Preview (tools) inspector won't allow.
I can't figure out how to delete the EXIF metadata, but Preview can remove the GPS data, which I'm a lot more concerned about. From the Tools menu open "Show Location Data" (or else get there from the Inspector). At the bottom of the GPS tab, click the "Remove Location Info" button. (Warning: my first remove and save didn't work – when I reopened the pic the GPS data was still there. The second time worked.)
 


Acrobat 2015, 2017 and 2019 (DC) are current. All now require macOS 10.12 or later to install/stay up to date.
Acrobat 2015 stops being current/supported on 7th April 2020.
Acrobat 2017 stops being current/supported on 6th June 2022.
Is there any reason to have Adobe Reader at all, for most Mac users?

I ditched it many years ago and use Preview to read PDFs. No problems so far.
 


Is there any reason to have Adobe Reader at all, for most Mac users?
I use it because I have had problems using other PDF readers (notably Preview) with fillable PDF files. Since my handwriting is terrible, I find that filling them in on the computer makes them much more legible. While there may be other PDF utilities that work as well, I haven't found any that have the same price point (free) as Reader.
 



Is there any reason to have Adobe Reader at all, for most Mac users?
Most files these days render perfectly (or at least well enough) with Preview. Some, however, do not render well (or at all) with non-Adobe viewers, including Preview and the one built in to Firefox.

Typical symptoms of incompatible files include:
  • characters appearing in the wrong font/size, positioned incorrectly, overlapping or other spacing problems. I suspect this is due to the document requiring a font that isn't available (maybe built in to Adobe Reader or embedded in the PDF file?) combined with explicitly positioning every character (probably due to kerning algorithms in the app that generated the document).
  • graphic elements overlayed/underlayed with the text - problems with position, clipping, transparency, etc.
  • fill-in forms - some work with preview; many, however, do not
I always keep Adobe Reader installed but with Preview configured as the default PDF viewer. This way, if I run across a file Preview or Firefox can't display properly, I can always right-click it and open it in Adobe Reader.
 



Is there any reason to have Adobe Reader at all, for most Mac users?
If you're running a current (supported) version of macOS (i.e. 10.13/10.14/10.15), then Preview may be good enough for most Mac users.

However, the issue is if you're running an unsupported version of macOS (i.e. 10.12 or earlier), then Adobe Reader was a (more) secure way of viewing PDFs. If the OS is not getting security updates, then Preview is not secure for opening PDFs of unknown origin.

However, the whole conversation around Adobe Acrobat/Reader support started because Adobe silently stopped supporting OS X 10.11 or earlier last year (even for the paid for version of Acrobat Pro 2015), but if you already have Adobe's software installed, it does not warn you of this fact and even tells you the software is "up to date" when it isn't. And if you want to download Adobe software, Adobe lets you download insecure versions that will never be updated, with no warning whatsoever.

Basically, if you're running OS X 10.11 or earlier, there's no longer a secure way of opening PDFs.

#applesecurity #security #updates
 


I am on High Sierra. It was recommended that I update to Acrobat Reader DC. So I do not know if it has been abandoned, but it is critical to fill out forms. So am I in the same non-security basket?
 


I don't have occasion to use fillable PDFs very often, and the ones I do tend to be very simple, so I haven't seen the problems other have reported.

My main concern with Adobe Reader is its horrible, horrible security record. If you do decide to use it, you should be very vigilant about keeping it current, and very careful about what files you open with it...

#security #PDF #Adobe
 


Is there any reason to have Adobe Reader at all, for most Mac users?
Most files these days render perfectly (or at least well enough) with Preview. Some, however, do not render well (or at all) with non-Adobe viewers, including Preview and the one built in to Firefox.Typical symptoms of incompatible files include:
  • characters appearing in the wrong font/size, positioned incorrectly, overlapping or other spacing problems. I suspect this is due to the document requiring a font that isn't available (maybe built in to Adobe Reader or embedded in the PDF file?) combined with explicitly positioning every character (probably due to kerning algorithms in the app that generated the document).
If typography is an important aspect of your document, Adobe Acrobat/Reader is more accurate.

Several months ago, a colleaque questioned whether to use a slightly lighter weight of a typeface in spite of the fact that I typeset the text in the same weight as previous documents for that client. During our conversation, I remembered that her computer had erupted, causing a wipe and reinstall, but Adobe Reader had not [been reinstalled], hence she was using Preview. I made a side-by-side comparison of the document to which the text was much heavier in Preview. (Note: "much heavier" is based on the trained eye of over 30+ years, so your milage may vary.)

With graphic design projects, fonts need to be embedded when generating PDFs to render correctly, since the recipient might not have the exact same version of the typefaces used in the original document.
 



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