Preview won't let me select a PDF page in the sidebar. Any idea why?

When I scan a multi-page document with the ScanSnap, sometimes I need to rotate a few pages. So I open the PDF in Preview, select a page in the sidebar, and use ⌘L or ⌘R to rotate. So far so good.

The problem comes when I select another page. As soon as I click on the page in the sidebar, Preview immediately deselects it and instead selects the page before it. So I end up accidentally rotating the wrong page. The only solution is to close and reopen the document.

The problem has persisted for the last few major MacOS updates. Anyone else experienced this? Any thoughts on what’s up?

This is probably related to other Preview and PDF file errors that started in late 2016 midway through the macOS Sierra updates when pdfKit was modified within macOS. See links below. Most of the more severe bugs (pages out of order, blank pages, loss of the OCR text layer) were eventually fixed. This “last” bug persists, probably related to the Preview app and macOS pdfKit. Many other problems were related to ScanSnap Manager incompatibilities with the newer macOS versions.

In my iMac computers Preview consistently shows this error: After scanning multiple pages into a single PDF file, any page that is substantially smaller than the rest cannot be selected in the side bar. The indicated selection will immediately “jump” to the next adjacent full-size page in the sidebar. This behavior occurs not only with scanned documents, but also with other downloaded multi-page documents (utility bills, for example) that contain half-size pages.

There is good news and bad news in this story. Good news: most of the severe bugs are fixed. Bad news: the ones you and I described, although relatively minor, persist, and may not be on Apple’s radar screen. You might consider reporting the bug to Apple, either through the support website or through Apple Care support if one of your devices is still covered by Apple Care.

Related links from late 2016 and early 2017:

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Came across this when I ran into the same problem, which led me to at least a workaround. It seems the issue is related to the pages’ relative sizes, so luckily I was able to make my Preview window full screen on the big iMac monitor, and then it let me rotate the pages I needed to, I guess since the sideways pages were now not so small? Hope this helps.

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I’ve encountered this specific Preview bug, too, for many years through numerous Mac OS updates. I’m delighted to discover here that I’m not alone. I’ll take your suggestion and write. to Apple about it. Thanks!

3 Yeauurs Lateur…January 2022,

Same problem with Preview as other people here

Do these past Preview and PDF file errors you mentioned still exist now in Monterey?

I have the same problem with Preview with newly created files in Monterey. Yep. They’re the small ones. Interestingly, when I go full screen, as someone else suggested, the two small ones are shown combined on one page. Maybe that’s a clue to this behavior.

I had this problem, but not related to rotation. I couldn’t select a thumbnail page to delete it – as soon as I selected, Preview would move my selection to another thumbnail instead. The “full screen” trick worked for me. Once I entered full screen and set the display to show thumbnails, I was finally able to select that “slippery” page and delete it.

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