Monday, March 21, 2011

Using Mac Preview as a Workaround when Acrobat Pro Won't Open a PDF File

I recently had a problem file that was submitted to me by a client. When I tried to place the PDF into InDesign, I got the following error message: "Failed to open the PDF file."

So I decided to try to open the file in Acrobat to investigate what might be wrong. But instead Acrobat opening the file, I got the following message: "There was an error opening this document. The file is damaged and could not be repaired."

I decided to try an alternative to Acrobat. For certain tasks, I like to use Apple's Preview software. So just out of curiosity, I wanted to see if Preview would save the day for me as it has on several other occasions. So, I opened the same file in Preview and it opened without any problem whatsoever. I saved it with a different name and then imported the file into InDesign.

Out of curiosity, I checked out the file in Acrobat. All the fonts were embedded properly, and everything checked out properly from a prepress-standpoint.

I'm not sure what the problem was, but it sure is good to know that I have a workaround to rescue problematic PDF files when they don't want to open.


  1. Hi Kelly

    I like your site,, very helpful.

    My question is: i am ruuning Window 7 & adobe 9.

    when i try to open web based adobe files.. i get a box with the adobe icon and a ? in it.

    have you seen this before? its not every document.. it just some.. i try 3 and 4 times..and sometimes it opens.. more not.

    If you have any would be agreat help. Thanks


  2. Hi Michelle,
    No, I haven't seen that before. I was thinking it might be a problem with the install of your Reader/acrobat, but if it's just an intermittent problem, then probably not. Try right clicking on the link to the PDF and then "save target as."