May 10

If PDF documents show up funny within Preview, particularly if the fonts appear wrong, there is a simple fix. Open up a Terminal window and type

killall -u <username> ATSServer

Restart Preview and the problem should be fixed.

10 Responses to “How to fix Preview PDF font display problem in Mac OS X Leopard”

  1. Mark Says:

    When I first tried this it didn’t work. However, I gave it a second go after closing all open applications and low and behold, IT WORKED ! This problem had been bugging me for ages, thanks for the tip.

  2. Ray Says:

    What do you mean by funny?
    My problem is that all the type appears bolder than in Acrobat or how it appears in original document. Will this fix it?
    If not, will it do any harm?

  3. Pierre Says:

    Does not work for me. Tried it several times.

  4. Dimitris Says:

    Thanks. It does fix my problem, which is funny mathematical symbols. However, the problem reappears in a random manner, I suspect due to loading of specific PDF files, which I cannot specify. How can fix the problem once and for all? thanks.

  5. Lauren Says:

    Thank you for the instructions! I was having issues with PDFs typeset in LaTeX–they were appearing in the wrong font, which caused all of my math to be mangled. Killing ATSServer fixed the problem.

  6. Guece Says:

    Good tip, worked like a charm!

  7. Aviva Says:

    Thank you, that worked right away. This issue has been plaguing me for ever…

  8. Nathan Grube Says:

    Thank you! This worked for me. I closed most applications before running this command. Before, some of the fonts in PDFs that I created with pdflatex were showing up as sans-serif in Preview but were showing correctly (if unexpectedly light) in acrobat. After following your advice and then relaunching preview, it looks fine in preview.

  9. Ted Says:

    Hello all – question from someone who isn’t a software engineer or anywhere close…

    With the command

    killall -u ATSServer

    do you have to replace with your actual username, and if so that is the username to what?

    Many thanks,

  10. Cory Quammen Says:


    No, you do not have to change the username from ATSServer. ATSServer is the name of a special user that runs the audio software. It’s the same on all Macs.


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