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I have a 2011 13' i5 8GB MBP, the user has always used Preview to combine PDFs as part of her work flow. To the best of my knowledge her process hasn't changed, however Preview is now failing to process this, it just locks up and fails to respond. A force quit show it has partially combined the PDF's but only ever adds the first page of the inserted file.

We have a text only PDF (roughly ~35KB) and a 2 page scanned document (~750KB).

The first file is opened in preview, we hit 'edit > insert from file' and choose the larger scanned file and the whole lot locks up.

This worked before the update to macOS (she'd been holding off for other reasons that are now resolved, hence updating only this weekend).

I see lots of people reporting performance issues with PDF's after the transition to Yosemite, with lots of people complaining of unresolved bugs around the performance of this app but very little with regards to this latest version.

How can I measure what might be slowing this down or decide if I need to look to another program / tool to perform this work?

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  • One wonders if there may be a damaged cache or preference file on her system. Try running Onyx (titanium-software.fr/en/onyx.html) and let it do everything it can, reboot and try again. Sep 11 '17 at 13:12
  • I wouldn’t use Onyx - I would instead make a new user account and test one file in the new account. There are some reports of Onyx causing other issues by deleting caches or longer delays behind the scene as the caches get rebuilt. Clearing out all caches and rebuilding all the stores seems overkill and perhaps counterproductive in this case.
    – bmike
    Sep 11 '17 at 16:59
  • You should get PDFSam, a free app from Sourceforge. This app is for combining PDF's. You can use this to make sure problem is with Preview and not the PDF files.
    – Natsfan
    Sep 11 '17 at 17:44
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The first thing to do is check on some common sense items:

  1. Open Activity Monitor - is the system totally idle or 99% CPU used.
  2. Open System Information (About this Mac) and check the storage - do any cleanup and if you are on a hard drive - consider freeing up 25% of the space to let the optimization run post OS upgrade.
  3. Turn off automatic log in so that when you reboot your Mac - you get to choose which account to log in.
  4. Open the Mac App Store app and apply all updates to Sierra.
  5. After cleaning out CPU / Disk Space - boot to Recovery HD and let Disk Utility repair the Disk, then repair the Macintosh HD, then repair the disk one last time. If any errors are fixed, power down the Mac and start Recovery HD a second time and repeat until you have no errors detected to fix.
  6. Now make a new user account and copy the files you’ll use to test to /Users/Shared - restart and log in to the new account and repeat the test for PDF.

This procedure is very general and catches 4/5 of the issues we have at work with our Mac. It’s not specific to preview, but will ensure you don’t look at a specific app when you actually have a system issue slowing down your Mac.

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  • Thanks. Activity Monitor was showing normal CPU ~ 3-20%. RAM was 4GB used. Didn't check disk use but we've swapped in an SSD so I doubt that'd be the cause (I'll check though). System is fully up to date. I'll give the other bits a go next time I can get at her system.
    – Patrick
    Sep 12 '17 at 7:52

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