Ever since I upgraded my macOS to Mojave, I've been stuck with Preview 10 (an old trick to downgrade Preview to 9 is no longer working). I wouldn't mind, except text selection has now become invisible:

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In the screenshot above, the word mechanisms is selected, and I can copy the text and paste it elsewhere, but it doesn't look selected. This is really annoying when I'm trying to select a large amount of text to copy and paste elsewhere.

Changing the text selection colour from Graphite (my current setting) to something else fixes the issue. Changing the accent colour in the Mojave dark mode to something other than grey automatically changes the text selection colour to the corresponding one, which again fixes the issue, but going back to Graphite (without changing the accent colour back to grey) reinstates the issue. If possible, I'd like to keep Graphite, as I like the way it looks.

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Edit: Switching to light mode doesn't make a difference (Graphite is still invisible on Preview):

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Is there a fix for this short of reinstalling the OS or switching to a different PDF-viewing app (I know Preview is abysmal, but it's convenient for several reasons)? Also, does anyone know why it happens?

Edit: I just tested it in Catalina (10.15.6, only tested dark mode), and Graphite works. The selection is rather light, but that's okay; at least it's visible. Seems to be a Mojave-only issue.

  • If you make a brand new user account, does that suffer as well? Might be interesting to separate this from a bug in the system from preference corruption in one user home folder.
    – bmike
    Jun 15, 2019 at 16:30
  • Hey, thanks for the cment, and sorry for the late reply. I’ve finally gotten around to setting up a guest account and testing this. The issue is still there with the guest account, and everything behaves exactly the same; it seems it’s an issue with the graphite selection colour. Can you or someone else reproduce this on another Mac?
    – Rain
    Jun 19, 2019 at 22:08
  • 1
    Ok. I’ll try to reproduce this. We do have a lot of machines we don’t want on Catalina at work but at home, it’s all Catalina and newer hence my delay and inability to reproduce this so far to date. The bounty will help attract attention.
    – bmike
    Aug 23, 2020 at 12:22
  • The lack of highlighting of text selection made me think for a while that text selection was not working at all. After a while I realised it is in fact working and I can copy and paste selected text, but the lack of visual feedback about text selection is unsettling. Aug 23, 2020 at 12:25
  • Note: observed with Preview version 10.1 (944.6.16.1) on macOS 10.14.6 Mojave. Aug 23, 2020 at 12:28

2 Answers 2


I had a similar issue on macOS Catalina 10.15.1.

Upgrading to 10.15.2 resolved the issue. Multiple Reddit users experiencing a similar issue confirmed the same as well.

  • Thanks, Yatharth. Unfortunately, I use some 32-bit apps for work, so I can’t update to Catalina just yet.
    – Rain
    Dec 26, 2019 at 16:46
  • 2
    On further inspection, the problem reported in that Reddit thread is not the problem I’m having. Their problem is 1) related to the search function and 2) inconsistent in which instances appear highlighted and which ones don’t; mine is 1) related to all instances of text selection and 2) consistently present. Thanks anyway.
    – Rain
    Dec 26, 2019 at 16:51

I was not able to reproduce your issue despite trying on 4 Macs. Two Catalina (10.15.6 / 19G2021) and two Mojave (10.14.6 / 18G6020 ).

To generate the PDF - I used the free Pages app and created a new document, the modern novel template, and exported it as PDF. You can see the text selection areas overlap - they are subtle / additive.

Preview selected text

I tried dark mode, light mode, grey and blue text selection and I couldn't get Preview to glitch. You might want to repeat this test or investigate what PDF are causing this - I don't doubt what you report, but don't think it's a general bug or one that's affecting most PDF. Hopefully this helps you and others to know what the expected results are and trigger some extra attention on reproducing this or narrowing which PDF could have this bug.

  • It's definitely a bug affecting all/most PDFs. I just tested it on macOS 10.15.6 with multiple PDFs, including the one in the screenshots above (which clearly showed the bug with macOS 10.14.something), and I can see the text selection consistently. Samuel Lelièvre was able to reproduce it on macOS 10.14.6, but you weren't. Perhaps the bug is related to the specific version of Preview, but I've always thought the only way to update Preview is via system updates, so your Mac with 10.14.6 should have the same version of Preview as Samuel's. This is very mysterious indeed.
    – Rain
    Sep 1, 2020 at 1:32

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