I have a few PDFs that do not display correctly in Preview, but do so in Adobe Acrobat, using a Macbook Pro.

I would like to be able to view these using Preview, so I want to either A.) modify the PDFs so they can be viewed or B.) Satisfy their requirement for specific fonts that my system is (apparently?) missing.

I've read about PDF conversion to PDF/A, embedding fonts, subsetting, etc. so I think I have a general handle on the problem. I've tried a few PDF Editors free trial versions, such as the PDF Editors from iSkySoft and Wondershare, to re-save the PDF. That creates a watermarked version that then has all the necessary text. The resulting file size is slightly larger, so I imagine they are either embedding or (more likely) subletting the necessary fonts in the document. I'd rather not have the watermark and since I have so few to convert, paying for these programs doesn't seem worth it for such a narrow use.

I've used pdffonts command tool to show the fonts in one such document:

name                                 type              emb sub uni object ID
------------------------------------ ----------------- --- --- --- ---------
Times-Roman                          Type 1            no  no  yes    834  0
Times-Bold                           Type 1            no  no  yes    842  0
Times-Italic                         Type 1            no  no  yes    838  0
Times-BoldItalic                     Type 1            no  no  yes    850  0
Helvetica                            Type 1            no  no  yes    846  0
Helvetica-Bold                       Type 1            no  no  yes    861  0

So, it seems like I'm on the right track as all of the fonts are neither embedded nor subsetted. Without resorting to modifying the document, is there any way to add the necessary fonts above to Preview or my System so I can just use Preview to view them? I've looked in FontBook and those fonts DO seem to be present on the system. I've tried to attach a FontBook snapshot to the question, but my rep is still too low. :-(

Is there something preventing Preview from accessing them, or have a fooled myself into thinking they are truly present? I've read about using ghostscript to embed fonts into a pdf (How to embed fonts into PDF), but it requires they already be on the system and, according to FontBook, they are?

Or, is there some inexpensive (less than $10) software that will convert PDFs to PDF/A, which I think will allow me to achieve the goal of opening these with the default application?


It may be bad form to answer one's own question, but I found that PDFCompressor for Mac from VeryPDF did a great job of modifying these PDFs so that they were perfectly readable after processing them on the default settings. As an added bonus they were often, though not always, smaller than before. The demo version is full-featured and allows a significant number (20) of files to be converted before requiring payment. Since I only had 3 or 4 to process, this was sufficient for my needs.

  • 1
    It's not frowned upon at all. If you found a solution to your problem feel free to post it and accept it. It's valuable information to anyone else who encounters the same problem. – Dracs Feb 3 '14 at 0:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.