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Speed up PDF viewing in Preview Apps
When viewing some large PDF files in Preview, performance can get pretty sluggish -- lags when changing pages, zooming, etc. To speed things up, you can try saving a copy of the PDF file using Preview (File » Save As). In my experience, this usually produces a file that is a few times larger than the original file, but the viewing performance will improve considerably.

As an example, I had slowdowns when viewing an 8MB PDF file. I used Save As to create a copy, which was 24MB in size. But when opening this much larger file, I experienced no such slowdowns.

[robg adds: The hint's author sent me his troublesome 8MB PDF file, and it definitely had speed issues in Preview, even on my Mac Pro. Thumbnails appeared at a glacial pace, and zooming in and out was painful. I used Save As, opened the now three-times-larger file, and the change was quite noticeable. Zooming, which used to take a couple of seconds, was now well under a second. When I scrolled by dragging the scroll thumb, Preview didn't lag nearly as badly as it did with the original. I theorize that the increased size and better performance are related to removing compression from images, but that's just a guess -- if you have other theories, please post them.]
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Speed up PDF viewing in Preview
Authored by: giulio on Mar 17, '09 08:31:13AM

Could it be that Preview embeds thumbnails when Save-As? That would be in contrast to creating thumbnails in real-time with the original file. I guess you'd have to open both in Acrobat Pro to find out.

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Speed up PDF viewing in Preview
Authored by: brett_x on Mar 17, '09 08:55:08AM

Was the original 8MB PDF created via Adobe? If so, we may have just isolated the the RDF (Reality Distortion Field). Who knew we'd find it in a PDF? That's really exciting!



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Speed up PDF viewing in Preview
Authored by: Anonymous on Mar 17, '09 10:25:36AM

Interesting.

I had noticed some PDF's with lots of pages/text will take ages to index ....open a 400 page unix manual and the ATSSerer and mdworker process goes nuts until it is fully indexed if you save the file i presume it saves this information so next time it does not try and index etc.

but unsure if this is the case ! as in my latest experiment the process starts up again.



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Speed up PDF viewing in Preview
Authored by: Typhoon14 on Mar 17, '09 12:57:48PM
The increased compression in PDFs does seem be problematic on the Mac. Both using Preview and Adobe Reader. The same PDFs are much smoother on Windows using Adobe Reader or most third-party readers. I've noticed that if the PDF version is above 1.3, performance on the Mac seems to take a nosedive.

For everyone interested. The PDF at http://www.archive.org/details/falloutprotectio00unitrich is a good case study (get the color version). It is extremely sluggish in Preview (and reader). The resaving tip sort of works — it somewhat increases performance, but massively inflates the size, from about 2 megs to over 200(!). If anyone can find a way to make that PDF work well on the Mac, I'd love to hear it.

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Speed up PDF viewing in Preview
Authored by: Deut3221 on Mar 17, '09 01:40:55PM

Glad to learn that I'm not the only one who is terribly frustrated with Preview and PDFs! It's always a mystery why some are terrible sluggish and others not.

Suggestions are very welcome!!



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Speed up PDF viewing in Preview
Authored by: Eric3 on Mar 17, '09 01:50:49PM

Using the "Reduce file size" filter when doing a Save As on the mentioned file kept it just under 4 MB, although quite a bit of detail was lost.

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Eric3



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Speed up PDF viewing in Preview
Authored by: frgough on Mar 18, '09 07:13:38AM

The issue is with PDFs containing large amounts of high-resolution scanned images that are heavily compressed. I created a new quartz filter that resamples images to 150 ppi at high quality then applies a medium quality jpeg compression to them, saved your sample manual using that and eliminated the problem. The final file was just under 12 MB in size with excellent quality.



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Speed up PDF viewing in Preview
Authored by: marineblue on Mar 17, '09 05:59:55PM

I had a similar problem trying to get a smooth-flowing version of a large PDF document onto my iPhone. As Typhoon14 noted, PDF version 1.3 seems to be critical. By examining the properties of various PDFs I figured out this corresponds to Adobe Acrobat v4. By selecting this compatibility option in the Adobe save dialogue, I got a much smaller file than from Preview, but perfect "behaviour" on both my iPhone and in Preview.



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Speed up PDF viewing in Preview
Authored by: KenS on Mar 17, '09 08:35:01PM
The problem with the document in question is that it is actually a highly compressed PDF/A document-- not a true PDF.

A little sleuthing revealed it was created with LuraDocument PDF v2.28 emulating Acrbat version 1.5 (6.x). LuraDocument is a pricy Windows enterprise-server solution for generating highly compressed PDF/A (or ‘PDF archival") documents. A discussion about PDF/A documents can be found at:

http://www.infonomics-digital.com/infonomics/20080506/?pg=61

Improved PDF/A support was introduced in Acrobat Professional 8. In addition to improved compliance testing, Acrobat 8.x and above corrects some of the simpler errors that it finds. Also, Acrobat 8 was the first product to support the even newer PDF/A-1a format.

Your Mac has trouble with these files because it is converting the embedded postscript in them on the fly to PDF. For instance, a PDF/A file can contain an embedded Flash file which is something Preview's underlying graphics engine was not designed to handle.

Basically when you save the file down in a Mac, the PDF/A image compression is removed sacrificing file size for speed and ease of handling.

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Speed up PDF viewing in Preview
Authored by: MarkR on Dec 14, '09 03:39:07AM

An easy way to speed up the re-opening of large pdf files is to open them in Adobe Writer (assuming you have it), crop the entire image/s, click on: file / create pdf / from clip board image. The result will loose quality, but I reduced a 2.5 MB architectural set of elevations to a 256 kb file. I use a MacPro so the 2.5 MB is not the issue, but assume it is the formatting as the file was received from a Windows based computer.



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