Someone sent me a PDF. Here's what it looks like in Preview. I can see the pages in the thumbnails, but in the main window they are black. Any idea what's causing this and how to fix it.

When the program first opens the file, I see the pages for a fraction of a second before it blacks them out.

enter image description here


I tried calibrating my displays, as suggested in a comment, but the pages are still black. I have two monitors - the MacBook Pro's screen and an external display.

  • See related: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/303818/…
    – Allan
    Jun 26, 2018 at 12:11
  • One difference in my case is that the Finder preview is working fine.
    – Rob N
    Jun 26, 2018 at 12:26
  • This could be caused by the original doc being scanned in Image Capture. I've seen some people with this problem resolve it by re-calibrating their display. Go to System Preferences > Displays > Color, and click the Calibrate button. See if that helps and then update the question with those results.
    – fsb
    Jun 26, 2018 at 12:58
  • I updated question.
    – Rob N
    Jun 26, 2018 at 13:26
  • How is it with other apps that display PDFs ... Adobe Reader, for example?
    – GEdgar
    Jun 26, 2018 at 21:42

1 Answer 1


Years later - I'm facing this very issue on latest Monterey and M1 MBP.

For me - the cause was another application that consumed ~10GB of RAM, and when I tried to use it - it had (different)rendering problems instead.

Force-quitting the misbehaving app helped Preview render the PDFs normally again.

I've tried other suggestions such as removing certain stuff in ~/Library but I couldn't find any of these.

  • 1
    This is totally bizarre but closing a few applications worked for me as well. (Looking at you docker desktop!!!)
    – Caustic
    May 3, 2023 at 23:08
  • 1
    Back here to search for my own answer :D It worked again!
    – tishma
    Feb 5 at 8:35
  • Similar cause for me - a process was stuck - solved by a restart of the Mac :)
    – Gonen
    May 13 at 20:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .