I have a PDF that has black font and the default white background (or no color). The glare from the monitor hurst my eye after long time reading it, even though I lower the brightness of the computer.

How can I convert black to white and white to black in a PDF? White font from a dark background is must more comfortable for the eye to read. Perhaps ImageMagic?


OS: Mac OS X Leopard
Reader: build-in Preview

  • Creating a new file with inverted colors would be impractical, since many PDF readers support the ability to invert colors (high contrast) for accessibility. Which operating system and/or PDF reader are you using?
    – iglvzx
    Feb 28, 2012 at 1:15

4 Answers 4


Hold down Control + Option + Command + 8. This will invert the colours on Mac OSX.

  • @KMC This is the keyboard shortcut I hinted at earlier. You should accept this answer. :)
    – iglvzx
    Feb 28, 2012 at 4:26

Not sure if thats the best way to do it but if you really wanted to you could open it up in Photoshop assuming you had that and invert the colors.

  • I have a similar version of that on my Mac - Pixelmater. What happen is convert the vector graphics to image, drastically lower the resolution...
    – KMC
    Feb 28, 2012 at 1:30
  • Yea you wont get the same result with Pixelmator. Adobe products like Photoshop and Illustrator can work with the PDF natively since they have the ability to create PDFs themselves. I think the quality would be alot better using Illustrator or PS, in any event it is going to convert it to either an image or a vector then invert the colors. Feb 28, 2012 at 1:36

You can invert colors using Preview's Adjust Color dialog:

Open the image in Preview, then select Tools > Adjust Color to open the floating color adjustment panel. On that panel, notice the sliders for Black Level and White Level.

To invert the image, simply move the Black Level slider all the way to the right, and the White Level slider all the way to the left. You can play with various levels of color inversion, too, by varying how much you move each slider.

You may also find the results more pleasing if you lower the Brightness setting from its default level.

-- Macworld.com

  • 2
    The "Adjust Color" is grayed out.
    – KMC
    Feb 28, 2012 at 1:55
  • I suppose PDF's are handled differently than other filetypes (JPG, PNG, etc). It's great that you pointed that out, however. I do know that you can set up a keyboard shortcut to quickly invert and restore the entire display. You could try that.
    – iglvzx
    Feb 28, 2012 at 2:01
  • 1
    Can you please explain: "invert and restore the enture display" ... with a shortcut?
    – KMC
    Feb 28, 2012 at 2:36

Adobe Reader allows you to use a custom color scheme for the document background and text (already suggested by paradd0x). In v9.5, this option can be found in Prefs > Accessibility.

I believe this solution is superior to simply inverting colors as in Evince (can be installed on Mac OS X via MacPorts), as in this case you will often get a very nasty contrast: bright white on bright black. With Adobe Reader you can however choose a color scheme much nicer on the eyes, such as light grey on dark grey. Such a scheme, similar to that used by Darklooks on Linux, would help reducing eyestrain when reading PDF documents on-screen.

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