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Revive Your Mac Preview: 10 Surefire Fixes for Mac Preview Not Working

Mac Preview is a built-in app in Mac devices for viewing PDFs or images on Mac devices. With it, you can do basic annotation with some annotation and markup features. Moreover, it can also be used to convert images into multiple other file formats.

Some users have reported facing a 'Mac Preview not working' issue when opening PDFs or performing other tasks. If you count yourself among those, hold on to your seat, as we are here to solve your issue with 10 surefire fixes!

What's Causing the 'Mac Preview Not Working' Issue?

First thing first, let's unveil the culprits behind this issue before delving deeper into the potential fixes. Most of the time, the issue is caused by Preview not working properly. However, it might also be due to other reasons like misbehaving with macOS or more.

Whatever the reason is, once you are stuck with the error, you may face any of these conditions:

  • The Preview app keeps crashing.
  • It's not showing the thumbnail previews.
  • Preview isn't saving changes.
  • It's not letting you use some of its features.
  • The Preview doesn't open a compatible file.
  • It's frozen and doesn't even launch.

How to Fix MacBook Preview Not Working Problems?

Let's now hop onto the main section of this guide, i.e., how to get rid of the 'Mac OS Preview not working' issue!

Fix 1: Force Quit Preview

Most of the time, forced quitting the app solves the issue. Follow the steps below to learn how you can do so:

  • With your Preview app in the background, navigate to the top left corner and click the Apple icon.
  • Choose Force Quit from the revealed menu.
  • Select the Preview app in the Force Quit Application window and hit Force Quit.
mac preview not working force quite
  • Your app will be closed; re-open it to check if it's working.

Fix 2: Restart your Mac

Here comes a sort of universal issue. Whatever your device's issue, you can resolve it by closing all the apps and restarting your Mac.

  • Click the Apple icon at the top left of your Mac screen.
  • Select the Restart option, 4th last one, and wait for your device to reboot.
macbook preview not working restart

Fix 3: Upgrade your macOS System

Some previous macOS versions have bugs that lead to the MacBook Preview app not working. If you use one such version, please upgrade to the latest macOS compatible with your device to solve this issue.

  • Click on the Apple icon featured on the top-left of your Mac screen.
  • Select the very first option, i.e., About This Mac.
  • The following window will preview the details of your Mac device. Skip to the Software Update option and click on it.
  • Wait until the Mac scans and shows updates, if available.
  • If you have an update, click on Update Now and be patient until the process begins.
preview mac not working upgrade
  • After the update is installed, your device will restart. Once it's done, your Preview app may begin functioning properly.

Fix 4: Use Another PDF Editor

If you are tired of facing the 'Preview Mac not working' issue over and over, it would be a great idea to shift to another PDF editor for Mac. As your main concern is user-friendly and with no errors, UPDF for Mac will be your best approach. Not only it's more reliable than Mac Preview, but it also has more innovative features. With it, you can revolutionize your PDF processing experience. You can rely on this solution, and please try it for free now!

Windows • macOS • iOS • Android 100% secure

preview mac not working updf

Here are some of its key features:

  • Let users view and read PDFs in different viewing modes.
  • Supports innovative editing tools, allowing you to better express your thoughts
  • Enables editing text, images, and links
  • Can convert scanned images to editable text with OCR technology
  • Supports PDF conversion to and from 14 file formats.
  • Features AI-powered features for streamlined working
  • Allows batch processing to save loads of time
  • You can also fill and sign PDF forms

The best part? You can try UPDF's free version to get insights into its features, functioning, and user-friendly interface. Later on, you can get your hands on the UPDF Pro license with an AI add-on that's indeed a cost-effective purchase for businesses and individuals.

Windows • macOS • iOS • Android 100% secure

Fix 5: Try Opening Another File

Sometimes, the issue is not with the Preview app but the file itself. Whenever you try to open a corrupted file with Mac Preview, it stops working, probably getting stuck or not opening. That said, try checking any other PDF file or image on Preview. If it opens without error, rest assured your Mac Preview is working fine.

Fix 6: Reset Your Preview App

If none of the above solutions work, reset your preview app. For this purpose, you will need to delete its PLIST. Here is how you can reset Preview Mac:

  • Quit your Preview app.
  • Launch Finder and Navigate to Go > Go to Folder, enter this path (~/Library/Containers/), and hit Go.
mac os preview not working reset preview
  • A long list of PLIST files will show up. Select the options highlighted in the figure below and drag them to Trash.
mac os preview not working reset
  • Once done, restart your device and check if your Preview app is working fine.

Fix 7: Sign in with a Different User Account

There might be some issues with your user account. To check it, sign in using another user account and try using Preview. If it's not showing the 'Mac OS Preview not working' error, the issue is with your original user account. You can transfer your data to the new account and use it.

Tip: If you don't have any other user account on Mac, make one. You can delete it once you check the Preview app's functioning if it crashes in the new user account.

Fix 8: Re-Enable Preview in Finder

If you cannot view the thumbnails of pictures you selected on Finder, there's a significant possibility that your Preview pane is disabled. Here is how you can enable it:

  • Launch Finder on your Mac.
  • Select View from the top menu bar and choose Show Preview.
  • If Preview is still not showing, go back to the View menu and choose Hide Preview.
  • Now repeat the same step to view the Preview again. Repeating these steps a few times will solve your issue.
preview mac not working re-enable preview

Fix 9: Restart Your Mac in Safe Mode

The 'Mac Preview not working' issue can also be caused by your Mac's login items. To check if they are the cause, you have to restart your device in Safe Mode. This mode prevents the login items from loading. Here is how you reboot in safe mode on different Mac systems:

Intel-Based Mac

  • Shut down your device.
  • Press the Power button to turn it ON and keep pressing the Shift key simultaneously.
  • Release the shift key on seeing the login window, log in, and continue.

Apple-Silicon Mac

  • Turn OFF your device.
  • Keep pressing the Power button unless and until you see the Startup Options.
  • Choose your Startup disk from the menu, press the Shift key, and choose the Continue in Safe mode option.
  • Release the Shift key and log in with your credentials.

Now, launch Preview and try opening multiple files in it. If it's working fine, remove all your Mac login items. Here is how you can do so:

  • Click on the Apple logo and select System Preferences.
  • Click on the Users & Groups > username > Login Items in the following window.
  • Tick-mark each item on the list and hit the Minus icon on the bottom left section of your Mac interface.
  • Restart your Mac and enjoy using Preview without any errors!
mac preview not working restart in safe mode

Fix 10: Reinstall macOS

The last fix is to erase your Mac and reinstall macOS. This must be your last option, as it requires a lot of effort and time input. You will need to back up your data first, install and uninstall macOS, and restore your data from the backed-up versions. Ensure to create a backup, as, without it, you will end up empty-handed with all your data being lost.

FAQs on Mac Preview Not Working

1. Why Does My Preview Keep Crashing?

This can be due to multiple reasons, like macOS featuring a bug that triggers the Preview app, restricting it from functioning properly. Another reason might be the saved state of the app. Check the above solutions to learn how you can fix this issue.

2. What to Do If Preview is Not Working?

You can try multiple solutions to fix it, from force-quitting the Preview app to upgrading your macOS, using another PDF editor, like UPDF, and much more. If you continue to face this issue over time, using another editor will remain the best approach. Read the article above for detailed information.

3. How to Fix Spacebar Preview Not Working Mac?

One of the most common solutions is to boot your device into Safe mode and restart normally. Safe mode will help eliminate caches, prevent third-party software from running at startups, and repair your device's hard drive. You might eliminate the 'Spacebar Preview not working Mac' issue by launching it on a clean slate.


MacBook Preview not working is one of the most common issues Mac users face. If you are stuck with the same, you can rely on multiple fixes mentioned above. However, we suggest ditching the Mac Preview and relying on UPDF to eliminate this issue.

It's an incredible PDF editor for Mac that edits, annotates, converts, translates, explains, summarizes, organizes, and performs many more PDF-related tasks that Preview doesn't even support. So, go download and try UPDF now!

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