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UPDATED QUESTION

After many users giving greatly valuable input, we verified that the below-described behavior is a result of a bug.

Using Safari up to version 15.4 (17613.1.17.1.13) will crash the text selection feature for .pdf's viewed in the browser once in-text search by command+F was initiated or once a character was entered into the search box thereof.

The behavior does not appear to affect all the pages, in fact, it seems the first or the first and second page remain unaffected; however, pages thereafter will not allow character-level, and multi-word text selection. What it means is once you want to select text it will select the first word that you begin selecting then it won't allow continuous selection of additional words, or characters of words or specific letters within that word — other than on page 1 or 2. It will simply select the single word wherever you begin text selection.

The question, therefore, is until a bug fix comes out: Is there any, for e.g., Hammerspoon scripts that could tie a "restart-pdf-viewer-in-Safari" command to every even calling of the in-text search feature? For e.g., such a restart command to every even command + F pressed while in Safari would already be terrific.

Alternatively, another command could call such a command resulting in the restarting of the in-Safari .pdf viewer.

PRE-UPDATE QUESTION

For a little while now (basically after upgrading to Mac Monterey from Big Sur) and/or when I upgraded my Safari (now at 15.4), my computer (MacBook Air M1, 8 GB, 512) refuses to select text while viewing .pdf documents in the browser.

It is still able to search within the document, and the highlighted word, of course, is selected, and may be copied from the text, but simply hovering over the pressed cursor to select text does nothing in any .pdf's only, and I view dozens of them a day. (No, it's not because they are locked.)

Once I download them, of course, they work just fine, and I can select text. But I don't always (or often even) want to download documents.

Is there a setting that messed this up after one or both of the above upgrades?

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  • Another question: what Safari extensions are installed and enabled? And, here are sample PDFs for which I have no problem filesamples.com/formats/pdf Do you?
    – Gilby
    May 9 at 3:25
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    @Gilby It seems like this is a fairly generic problem given it's effecting me, Koretelly and rdelrossi - and presumably others. I think this excludes any hardware problem - I also get it when using different hardware. Here is an example case for me: View arxiv.org/pdf/1807.00462.pdf (a randomly chosen arXiv article) in the browser , ctrl+F 'answering', scroll to the 2nd page and try and select text. For me this doesn't work. I have no extensions installed. May 9 at 19:24
  • *command+F not ctrl+F in my above comment May 9 at 19:36
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    @Quantumspaghettification Yes, I get do get the problem exactly as you describe on most (all?) multipage PDFs after a command-F search. Safari 15.4. This has to be a bug. No search, no problem - so it must triggered in some way by the search.
    – Gilby
    May 10 at 0:05

1 Answer 1

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For information, this is sharing my workaround. It is not an "answer" and don't expect it to be accepted. Just hope it is not downvoted.

For Safari 15.4 (and probably other versions) searching in a PDF and selecting text does not work as expected. I suggest a workaround where the PDF is opened in Preview without an overt download step.

Workaround (2 steps):

  1. Choose File > Print... menu action (Command-P).
  2. In the "PDF" dropdown, choose Open in Preview.

Now searching and selecting works correctly.

I have not used Hammerspoon (as suggested by @Kortelly), but my workaround can be created as a simple macro in Keyboard Maestro from Stairways Software.

Keyboard Maestro open in preview

As you can deduce this macro can be executed with a chosen hot key or a click on KM's macro palette.

[I can't remember, but I am pretty sure this was something copied from the KM forums/examples and modified a bit by me.]

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  • This is actually looks great, seems like it's designed to reduce the steps for opening Preview. I'm going to try this, and circle back. May 14 at 5:40

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