When I use Preview to export PDF as TIFF and resulting TIFF is larger than 2.15 GB, Finder doesn't show me the preview icon of the file.

enter image description here

If the size of the resulting TIFF is smaller (for example, 2.13 GB), there is no such an issue.

The file can be opened by both Preview (that is, by pressing Command and Down Arrow keys) or Quick Look (by pressing the Space key). Its icon, however, is generic one.

Can you confirm it on your Mac? Is it a bug or by design?

macOS Ventura 13.2.1

  • 3
    TIF has issues at about the 2GB boundary because internally it is 32-bit.
    – Tetsujin
    May 28, 2023 at 17:16
  • What happens if you export PDF document as TIFF and this TIFF will exceed 2.15 GB limit? Will you have the preview icon or it will be replaced by the generic one?
    – jsx97
    May 28, 2023 at 17:46
  • I have no practical experience with huge TIFs, as our previous now deleted conversation would explain. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TIFF
    – Tetsujin
    May 28, 2023 at 17:47
  • I'm guessing that there comes a point where trying to produce a 1024 x 1024 pixel rendering of an image that is thousands of times larger becomes futile.
    – benwiggy
    May 29, 2023 at 11:40
  • @benwiggy Which macOS version you use, by the way? Can you create about 70-pages document with dummy text in Pages, export it as PDF to Preview, and then export this PDF from Preview as TIFF at 300 pixels per inch (the resulting TIFF will be about 2.15-2.5 GiB), to see whether the icon will be shown properly in your case? (This won't take more than 5 minutes.)
    – jsx97
    May 29, 2023 at 13:02

1 Answer 1


Save as png instead, or at least experiment with tiff compression methods.
TIF is 32-bit internally, so will start to have issues at the 2GB boundary.

I just saved a 436-page technical manual, 22MB as pdf to tif uncompressed, tif lzw & png. I got 3.8GB uncompressed, 190MB lzw & 130MB png. Visually, of course, there is no difference in these three methods, as all are lossless. The 3.8GB tif, as expected, fails to embed a preview icon. The others were OK. I don't know if png has the same 32-bit limitation, but judging by this experiment, it's unlikely you will ever need to find out.

Late edit - Curiosity got the better of me, so I tried the DaVinci Resolve manual… a mere 3,637 pages, which [eventually] produced a 3.7GB png file… with a preview icon.

enter image description here

  • How are you producing one PNG of 3,637 pages?
    – benwiggy
    Jun 1, 2023 at 9:35
  • 1
    Simply by exporting a pdf as png. It retains pagination, I never thought to question how or why, but it does - here's a smaller example image, a mere 29 pages - i.stack.imgur.com/rPnE2.png
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 1, 2023 at 9:37
  • Ooh, Wow. I thought PNG was a single image format only. Still, I'm not sure why anyone would want this over a PDF.
    – benwiggy
    Jun 1, 2023 at 9:41
  • 1
    @benwiggy - ah… here's how/why - stackoverflow.com/questions/34551560/…
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 1, 2023 at 9:42
  • 1
    @benwiggy - This was explained in earlier, now deleted comments. OP wants a non-editable version… there was much discussion, ultimately fruitless… so I ended up with this as an alternative to trying to push the limits of TIF. Presumably [though I didn't check, it was just an accidental effect of the larger experiment] png, or apng, may be 64-bit internally.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 1, 2023 at 9:45

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