How to Repair a PDF File on a Mac

By Ray Padgett

While there's no science to repairing PDFs, there are a few approaches.
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Repairing a PDF file can be tricky business. Sometimes it may have been corrupted in the transfer and sometimes it may have just geen bad to begin with. Preview, Mac's default PDF software, is unhelpful in these instances. There are a few steps you can take to try to repair the PDF on your own, though. If they don't work, you may have to acquire a new copy.

Step 1

Ensure the PDF is fully downloaded (if you downloaded it in the first place). If the download broke or stopped, no amount of repair can recover data that isn't there. Retry the download.

Step 2

Try to open the PDF file with Adobe Acrobat. Preview, Mac's default application for PDF files, has no repair capacity. Acrobat is the go-to application for advanced PDF management. (Adobe Systems invented the file format, after all.)

Step 3

Follow any steps Acrobat offers (assuming it cannot read the file). These steps vary by PDF, but the program is good at identifying the issue and fixing it with your go-ahead.

Step 4

Run a piece of PDF Repair software on the file. Dozens exist, many free, so if need be, you can try a couple. Find a few popular options in Resources.