The PDF File Viewer Tool: Preview Not Responding

Apple developed many features for MacBook users. One of the exciting features it created is the Preview app. A preview is a tool used by MacBook users to open and view images files and PDFS. There are a lot of things you can do with preview, including rotating texts.

It can be frustrating when you want to view your PDFs, and the preview refuses to respond. What do you do when Preview does not open on your MacBook? In some cases, the preview can respond but fail to open PDFs and even select texts for copying and pasting from PDFs. Moreover, others may not work when combining, searching, marking up, and reordering pages.

The good thing is that there are solutions to all the above problems. You can fix those problems and get your preview to work perfectly on your MacBook again. Here is everything you need to know about fixing your preview on your MacBook.

Preview Not Responding

Have you ever been using your Preview, and then it stops working? It might happen due to various reasons. It can be malware, or something is wrong with your preview. Despite what reason it might be, you need to find a solution to it. An error can also occur, and your preview becomes unresponsive. When this happens, a follow-up alert will pop up reading the application ‘’preview app’’ is not open anymore.

Situations Where Preview App May Disturb You When Using It

The preview app is a vital tool to have in your MacBook since it will help you open and view PDFs. However, there are times that the app may have problems. Problems might occur in different situations, including:

  • Preview not responding on your MacBook
  • Preview not opening PDFs on Mac
  • Preview not selecting texts for copying and pasting
  • Preview not working when combining, searching, marking up, and reordering

Preview Not Responding On Your Macbook

It happens when you cannot open your preview on your MacBook, making you get stuck. You will be unable to view and open PDF files.  An error message will pop up on your screen to notify you that the preview app cannot open. The following are some of the ways you can solve this problem.

Force Quit Preview

One of the things you can do when your preview is not responding is to force quit the preview. However, this method does not work all the time, but you can try it. There are two ways you can force quit preview, and they include using Force Quit Window and using Activity Monitor.

Using Force Quit Window

To force quit your preview using this method, you will first open the Force Quit window by pressing the command+option+escape keys. One the Force Quit Window, select preview and click force quit, and reboot your MacBook.

Using Activity Monitor

You will first open the Activity Monitor application by going to the finder, selecting applications, and selecting utilities. On the Activity Monitor application, you will select the CPU tab and click the ‘’process name.’’ In the processes list, you find and choose preview. Click on the stop sign button, and select force quit. After you force quit, you will reboot your MacBook.

Update Or Reinstall Your MacOS

Bugs on your MacBook can also make your preview app not respond. Therefore to get rid of the bugs, you can update or reinstall your MacBook. You should update your MacBook to the latest macOS version. If you already have the latest macOS version and still have the same preview problem, you should try and reinstall your macOS.

How To Update And Reinstall Your MacOS

Updating your MacOS is a simple task. You first need to connect your MacBook to an internet connection, go to system preferences, and select software updates. You will check for any available updates. When you find the updates ensure that you download and install all of them.

Before you reinstall your macOS, ensure that you first back up your data using Time Machine. To reinstall your MacOS, you will first shut down your MacBook and wait for a few seconds for it to power off completely. You will then press the power button briefly and immediately hold command+R.

When you do this, a recovery mode screen will appear, and you will see the option of reinstalling your MacOS. Click on that option and follow the on-screen prompts to finish your reinstallation process.

Removing Your Preview Preferences

Preview preferences files are files that macOS creates to store your preview app settings. Therefore if your preview app does not respond, you can remove the preview preferences files. Before deleting them, ensure that you first back up your MacBook.

How To Remove The Preview Preferences

You will first go to the menu bar and select the go to folder option. There, you will type ‘’~/Library/Preferences/’’ and click go. Ensure you move the preference to your desktop for safety measures. Once you do that, reboot your MacBook and test the preview again to see if it works.

Preview Not Opening PDFS On Mac

Your preview might open perfectly on your MacBook but have other problems when using it. Have you ever used a preview, and it refuses to open PDF files? The cause might be the macOS itself. When this happens to you, here are some of the methods you can fix it.

Set Preview As A Defaulted PDF Viewer

Sometimes the preview may refuse to open files because it is not the default app for opening your PDF files. Therefore you need to set the preview as your default PDF viewer. Setting your preview as the default app for your PDF viewer is simple.

You will first go to your PDF file and click on it and go to get info. On the ‘’Open with’’ option, you will select preview. And then change all to ensure you set preview as the default PDF reader. Once you have chosen preview, open your PDF with preview.

Restart Mac

Another method you can use to find a solution to your preview not opening PDF files is restarting your MacBook. Restarting your MacBook is the simplest and the best way to troubleshoot when working on your MacBook. Therefore when you restart your MacBook, your preview should be okay again.

The first thing you should do is to save your work. There are two ways you can restart your MacBook. You can go to the Apple icon and select restart. Another way to do it is by pressing and holding your power button to shut down and press the button again to restart.

Reset Permission

If your preview still has problems opening your PDF files, you can try resetting permissions. When you want to reset permission, the first thing to do is click the Apple icon and go to the folder. One the folder input users and then click go, and it will take you to your home folder.

Click on your home folder and select get info. You will then click on the lock icon, put your password, click on the setting icon, and select ‘’ apply to closed items.’’  You will then go to finder and click on applications open terminal.

On the application open terminal, you will input ‘’diskutil resetuserpermissions / ‘ id – u ‘ ‘’ and press the enter button.  You would have completed the reset permission process. Once you finish, restart your MacBook and open your PDF file again with your preview.

Preview Not Selecting Texts For Copying And Pasting From PDF

Some MacBook users have complained that their preview app cannot select PDF texts for copying and pasting. If you are among those users, here are some things you should try to fix that problem.

  • Ensure that you can and protect your PDF file.
  • Convert preview PDF to editable formats on your MacBook.
  • Open the PDF file using other PDF readers.

Preview Not Working When Combining, Searching, Marking-Up, And Reordering Pages

If you face this problem with your preview app on your MacBook, here are some solutions you can find to the problem.

  • Reinstall your MacOS.
  • Use a PDF viewer alternative other than the preview app. A good example is the PDF Master.

Why Is Your Preview App Not Responding?

It can be frustrating to open your PDF files, and a pop-up error message appears saying the preview app cannot open. The reason why your preview may not respond can be the presence of bugs on your MacOs. Moreover, it can also be that you have not updated your macOS to the latest macOS version.

How Do You Soft Reboot Your Macbook?

You will go to the menu bar, and press shut down. Before you confirm the shutdown, first uncheck the box ‘’reopen windows when logging back in.’’ click shut down and wait for a few seconds until your MacBook powers off. Once the MacBook is off, briefly press the power button to turn the MacBook on again.


A preview app is an essential tool used to view your PDF files. Some of the MacBook users have complained about the preview app having problems. There are times when your preview app will not respond and hence refuse to open PDF files. Your preview app might respond well but refuse to select text for copying and pasting in other instances.  Luckily all these problems have their solutions.


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David Huner
David Huner
David Huner is a tech lover. After completing his graduation from the University Of Phoenix, he started gather his knowledge mostly on latest technologies that keeps his life smart and cool. Now he wants to spread his knowledge with people who loves technologies.

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