Leopard Oddity

by Kieran Healy on October 31, 2007

So naturally I upgraded to Leopard a few days ago. Generally a smooth process, with the occasional headache (reinstalling stupid HP printer drivers, grr) balanced out with the occasional pleasant discovery not hyped beforehand (Terminal now aware of the Keychain, hurray). But here’s something that looks like a bug a slightly counterintuitive feature in OS X’s otherwise very nice PDF-handling abilities.

Open a PDF file in Preview. Select a section of it and copy it to the clipboard. Create a new file from the selection, and save it. (I do this a lot when putting presentations together, for instance.) Now drop that new file into a Keynote presentation or Pages document — the only two I’ve tried so far — and … see what happens? The _original_ image appears, not the cropped one. Remember, folks, as a wise blogger once said, Don’t upgrade.



John Quiggin 10.31.07 at 3:57 am

My upgrade corrupted (or revealed the corruption of) my hard drive directory, and I was only saved from total obliteration by a hasty purchase of Alsoft Disk Warrior (of course, I had backups of all the really important stuff, but still, it was a nervous moment).

So, I endorse the last sentence, and will be sure to ignore my own advice when 10.6 (Lion?, Smilodon?) comes out


Kieran Healy 10.31.07 at 4:02 am

Disk Warrior is great. Saved me a couple of times in the past. My favorite candidate for the next iteration of the naming them is Mac OS X Lolcat — I’ve also seen reference to Mac OS X O Hai I Is Upgradin Yr Disks.


Michael 10.31.07 at 4:12 am

Not actually an issue in Key or Pages.


open the new one, go to View>PDF Display> Media Box and you’ll see it all.

The issue here is what gets copied to the clipboard is basically a bunch of formats of the same data and apps use the first one they can understand. That’s great when you want formatted text to degrade nicely to unformatted text in your email client, but can cause confusion.

Here’s what’s happening:
Preview knows PDF and bounding box, so it uses all of that.
Pages and Keynote don’t grok Preview’s “only display this part” piece, so they ignore it and you see the whole PDF. Word and other apps don’t get PDF, so they paste in the picture, which isn’t the best format they can use. TextEdit doesn’t get graphics formats at all, so it puts in nothing.

If you want a picture of a portion of a PDF, use Grab


Kieran Healy 10.31.07 at 4:17 am

I see. You might say, to coin a phrase, that it is a feature, not a bug.


James Estevez 10.31.07 at 7:24 am

You can also save the cropped PDF as a JPEG via File->Save As…


James Wimberley 10.31.07 at 9:43 am

If Windows versions were named on the same principles, what would they be: brontosaurus? hairy mammoth? walrus?


marcel 10.31.07 at 1:18 pm

#5 asks: If Windows versions were named on the same principles, what would they be: brontosaurus? hairy mammoth? walrus?

The correct answer is: Giant Ground Sloth.
A good alternative is: Possum


derPlau 10.31.07 at 1:46 pm

I haven’t upgraded to Leopard yet (our university’s site-license media aren’t available yet), but I suspect this is the same issue I had when I upgraded to Illustrator CS3. I often make multi-layer figures in Illustrator, then make each layer invisible in turn, save as PDF, import into Keynote and then use the layers as sequential builds to illustrate some multi-step or complex process.

And but so when I upgraded to CS3, this stopped working: the “invisible” layers were showing up in Keynote when I did the import. The long & the short of it was that saving in an older version of the PDF format (what Illustrator calls “Acrobat 5 (PDF 1.4)”) fixes the problem, presumably because the way the newer format handles transparency has changed.

Of course, why Apple would upgrade the format of PDF produced by Preview but not the ability of Pages & Keynote to read it, I can’t say. And, at least in Tiger, there’s no way I know of to change the PDF format Preview uses. So this isn’t a particularly helpful response. Sorry.


Kieran Healy 10.31.07 at 2:17 pm

You can also save the cropped PDF as a JPEG via File->Save As…

Yes, except usually I need a scalable graphic, in case I need to change the size of the image.


Chris Goedde 10.31.07 at 2:52 pm

Does it behave the same way if you do a “Save As…” directly from Preview rather than going through the clipboard? (Which seems like a couple extra steps to begin with.) I don’t have Leopard yet, so I can’t check.


c.l. ball 10.31.07 at 3:34 pm

I don’t have Leopard — I never upgrade an OS until 6 months after its release.

Have you tried doing the Preview File>Grab>Selection method recommended in #3. Does it work in Leopard?

The convenience of the Preview-embedded Grab is that you don’t have to save the file.

Re 9, why can’t you scale the jpeg image as you would any other graphic? A Grabbed .tiff or a save jpeg both scale in Pages under Tiger.


Bruce Webb 10.31.07 at 4:06 pm

Well not precisely OT but I bought a 5 user ‘Family’ version of Leopard wanting to upgrade both my MiniMac and my 15″ iMac. Well I wouldn’t of thought that the perfectly functioning and still cool looking half-basketball plus LCD screen on a swivel iMac was itself a brontosaurus but so it proved. Leopard simply snarled at my iMac’s puny 700 MHz CPU, nope it was 867 MHz or better or you get nothing pal.

I don’t have my original 128 Mac, but I have a whole series of others from a Mac Classic to the short lived second party UMax, I get the obsolescence part. But it was a little jarring to find it extended to an iMac. As I understand it Vista will allow you to install a junior truncated version on some older machines, but Leopard will have none of that. Check System Profiler before throwing down that $129 or in my case $199. I have been a loyal Mac guy since I first bought one in 1985 but it wouldn’t have killed them to tell you that a machine that could tame Tiger would get ripped to shreds by Leopard.


Flaffer 10.31.07 at 5:12 pm

Watch using Disk Warrior AFTER upgrading. MacFixit (and I believe Alsoft) have noted disk corruption when it is used on Leopard volumes.


PeWi 10.31.07 at 5:42 pm

Have also not upgraded yet, but the grap Apple + $ is apparently still working, and in Leopard will also give you the size of the window you are grabbing in pixels (apparently)

Yes, so many interesting features, but here is another one waiting for .1 or even .2


Tim McG 10.31.07 at 6:40 pm

When is Apple coming out with “Liger”? I’m not switching until then.


David Goodison 10.31.07 at 7:06 pm

I have to admit it never occurred to me that one could crop a pdf in that manner to begin with. Were you able to use that method before?

Both Keynote and Pages have great (and easy to use) masking capabilities. That’s what I use to make use of just a portion of a larger pdf file. That way you can still scale the masked image.


Bernard Yomtov 10.31.07 at 7:49 pm

In my experience using an HP printer on a Mac is for masochists. I ended my long nightmare by getting a wireless duplexing Brother printer that actually is able to commmunicate with the Mac consistently.


duus 10.31.07 at 8:15 pm

“wireless duplexing Brother printer that actually is able to commmunicate with the Mac consistently.”

which one? Do tell! (looking for such a printer)


Kieran Healy 10.31.07 at 8:18 pm

Were you able to use that method before?

Yes, but I guess in retrospect I wasn’t using it with applications that didn’t recognize the bounding box thing.


Kieran Healy 10.31.07 at 8:19 pm

In my experience using an HP printer on a Mac is for masochists. I ended my long nightmare by getting a wireless duplexing Brother printer that actually is able to commmunicate with the Mac consistently.

I didn’t pick the office printer, alas. Though Leopard has let me do something I don’t think was possible before (though I may be wrong) which is to connect wirelessly to the HP color laserjet in the main office. I just had to manually tell it the IP address and it figured the rest out.


Watson Aname 10.31.07 at 9:32 pm

C.L. Ball, it simply isn’t possible to scale a raster graphic (jpeg, tiff, etc) the same way you can scale a vector graphic (pdf, ps, etc.). Once you are in a raster form, you are in some sense stuck with the resolution you started with, which is not good. Kieran is doing the right thing sticking with vector format for vector figures.


Fr. 10.31.07 at 10:32 pm

I faced this issue too. Solutions:

– Use Acrobat Pro, cropping tool + grid + snap-to-grid, and re-save as PDF.
Inconvenient: costly, necessitates two programs where one should be enough.

– Save to 300dpi and preserve scaling up to reasonably large sizes.
Inconvenient: large files where a nice vectorised file would do the trick.

I consider the issue as a bug. Preview should allow for destructive crop or warn that its cropping tool does only soft crops.


Fr. 10.31.07 at 10:33 pm

Sorry, line spacing got messed up.


Bernard Yomtov 10.31.07 at 11:49 pm

which one? Do tell! (looking for such a printer)

It’s called an HL-5280DW. Installation was a minor hassle, but nothing serious.


David 11.01.07 at 2:08 am

Still on Tiger, but I have to say both the HP printers on our home network perform flawlessly. No hassles whatsoever. An old laserjet 2100TN and a new Officejet all-in-one. Now, don’t get me started on trying to upgrade Ubuntu. Has seriously hosed that machine.


Bernard Yomtov 11.01.07 at 7:16 pm


Maybe you’re luckier than I am. My particular curse was a Laserjet all-in-one. It now functions as a perfectly serviceable copier/fax, but attempts to scan involved endless reboots, restarts, software reloads, etc., and printing was only somewhat easier.


Jon H 11.02.07 at 6:24 am

I’ve been happy with an HP inkjet printer for which I also bought the duplexing attachment, used with OS X.

I avoid the multi-function boxes.


GFreeman 11.04.07 at 2:43 am

attn: Bruce Webb

MacFixit has a tutorial on installing Leopard on an external FireWire drive and then hooking that drive to to your PPC Mac. It seems to have worked for a lot of people.

Comments on this entry are closed.