December 6, 2023

Unreadable documents: macOS 14 Sonoma has issues with some PDF files

After updating to macOS 14 Sonoma, you may have significant issues printing and exporting PDF files. The error usually cannot be identified in advance. Apple’s built-in Preview app, which opens PDF files by default, displays the documents correctly and completely. However, when you print a PDF file, the error appears on the paper, readers say: certain characters are replaced by small rectangles. , which usually makes a large portion of the content unreadable.


If you open the same PDF document with an older version of the operating system such as macOS 13 Ventura, the Preview app will print it correctly — as usual. The problem is far from being observed in every PDF file in macOS 14, but it can certainly be seen in documents that are still printed frequently, for example for tax returns. This includes, for example, PDF files from the health insurance company and Barmenia Insurance as well as invoices from Deutsche Telekom.

The error is not only noticeable when printing: if the user exports a PDF document and saves it in PDF/A format for archiving, the digital copy also displays rectangles instead of letters. Therefore, the new document is unusable.

Switching to a PDF program other than Apple Preview doesn’t necessarily help; For example, printouts using Foxit PDF Reader also show corresponding boxes instead of letters. The most reliable solution so far is to use Adobe Acrobat Reader, which means problematic PDFs were printed correctly and readably again during a short test conducted by the Mac&i editorial team.

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The reason remains unclear at the present time. With macOS 14, Apple removed all EPS and PostScript file rendering frameworks, but this does not appear to be related to the PDF issues described. Developers with access to the macOS 14.1 beta report that problematic PDF files can print normally again. Apple is expected to release the first major update to macOS Sonoma in a few weeks.


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