Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Workaround When Acrobat says a PDF is an "Unsupported File Type"

Today I needed to download a PDF from a website. I use Safari, and usually I can just save the file as a PDF using File > Save As.

But today, that didn't work. I got the following message when I tried to open the file in Acrobat:
"Acrobat could not open 'Ecomar-e.pdf' because it is either not a supported file type of because the file has been damaged (for example, it was sent as an attachment and wasn't correctly decoded). To create an Adobe PDF document, go to the source application. Then choose Save as Adobe PDF from the PDF drop down in the Print dialog.
So next I tried File > Export as PDF. But I got the same result.

In the past, I've used Preview when Acrobat can't open PDF files. But when I tried that today, I got the following message:

So I took a look at the file properties in Finder. For whatever reason, the file is 0KB.

So I decided to try using Acrobat to open the PDF. It's not well known, but there is a way to open a PDF directly from Acrobat. But you won't find it under File > Open. You'll find it under File > Create > PDF from Web Page...

If I recall correctly, years ago this feature may have been in the File > Open section of Acrobat, because notice the keyboard shortcut for this command: Shift + Cmd + O (which is just one key different than the Shift + O of File > Open). That brings up the following dialog box. 

I just pasted in the URL of the PDF I was trying top open and clicked "Create." And Voila! The PDF opened perfectly!

But there is much more to this tool than first meets the eye. Create PDF from Web Page does just when the name says: it creates PDFs from HTML files. If you click on the "Settings" button, you are presented with a few options.

Web Page Conversion Settings: General Tab
Web Page Conversion Settings: Page Layout
In the General Tab, there is a "Settings" button near the top of the dialog box. That gives additional settings for how the HTML will be displayed visually when the file is converted to PDF.
Web Page Conversion Settings > General > HTML Conversion Settings
Since my document was already a PDF, I didn't need to adjust any of the HTML conversion settings. Bu it is nice to know that they are there.