Since OS X 10.12 (Sierra), the built-in Preview, but also many other PDF Viewers on OS X (such as Skim) show a number of problems, among them the following rendering issue:

  • The page is first rendered in low-res with blurry text and graphics.
  • About one second (!) later, the page is rendered in high fidelity.
  • The display "wobbles", as text and graphics on the high-fidelity page is about one or two pixels up.

Example code:

\begin{frame}{Duke says}
  \item<+-> It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing
        \item<+-> (doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah)
        \item<+-> It don't mean a thing all you got to do is sing
        \item<+-> (doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah)



While one may consider this acceptable when reading documents on screen, this is a show stopper for presenting beamer presentations with animations. The low-res display and wobbling makes the audience sick, while the 1 second rendering time makes PDF-based animations impossible.

So I am looking for a PDF Viewer for OS X that does not suffer this problems, but that a suitable for presenting beamer-based slide shows. Requirements:

  1. page-wise full-screen/presenting mode with just the page and nothing else on the screen
  2. crisp and high-fidelity display
  3. quick rendering time

Unfortunately, the root of the problem is in Apple's own PDFKit library that is the base for most PDF viewers on OS X. So I am looking for PDF viewers that are not based on PDFKit, but fulfil the requirements above.

I am aware, of course, of Acrobat Reader DC. However, I do not particularly like its font rendering (Req 2) and I would also prefer something more light weight. I also have PDFExpert, which also is not PDFKit-based, however, does not support a presenting mode (Req 1).

  • I have an even later version of MacOS Sierra (10.13.4), use preview regularly (at least twice a week) for beamer presentations and do (nor did) not have any of the issues described here.
    – user121799
    May 13, 2018 at 22:03
  • @marmot: That sounds promising, as I am on 10.13.4 as well. I have added a short example. Even with this simple example the effect is visible after a page flip for 0.5 to 1 second on my MBP 13-inch, 2016.
    – Daniel
    May 14, 2018 at 12:22
  • Hmmh, in your document I get some really weird effect when viewing it in the full screen (not slide show) mode: the 2nd and 3rd slides are jammed together on one slide. However, for my own presentations I always use full screen and never had issues (even though they have up to 1000 frames).
    – user121799
    May 14, 2018 at 16:21
  • Does this also happen for other latex generated documents or just beamer? May 14, 2018 at 16:45
  • 1
    related question: apple.stackexchange.com/q/325622/57046 May 17, 2018 at 16:59

2 Answers 2


The delay in rendering pdfs with preview.app can be avoided with the following apps (they are all available through homebrew):

Additional Remarks by Daniel

  • For those who prefer MacPorts: Currently MacPorts provides only the X11 versions, which do not work well for presenting full-screen mode. The homebrew variants are native. You can install them without doing any harm to your MacPorts setup.
  • The graphical Présentation.app and the console-based pdfpc assume a dual-screen setup and provide a presenter display with the next slide, elapsed time and so on. Both internally pre-render the PDF pages. Depending on the complexity of the slides (transparencies have quite an impact), this may take a while. However, the presentation output is superb.
  • Apparently, xpdf does not do pre-rendering. While it is fast in general, switching to a new slide causes flicker.


I would recommend SlidePilot from Codeys answer, it just works

  • Thanks! I have added some additional information from our discussion into the answer. Hope, that is okay for you.
    – Daniel
    May 16, 2018 at 12:46
  • I will now delete the outdated comments.
    – Daniel
    May 16, 2018 at 12:46
  • @DG' Would you like to add this also as answer to apple.stackexchange.com/q/325622/57046? If you don't want to join ask.different, I could offer to write a community wiki answer there. May 17, 2018 at 17:44
  • @samcarter Daniel already added the answer, so I don't need to anymore
    – DG'
    May 17, 2018 at 19:48
  • @DG' Good to hear that the question on ask.different got an answer! May 17, 2018 at 19:55

SlidePilot is a dual screen PDF viewer for macOS which offers Pre-Rendering and Caching of PDF pages amongst many other features. When a document is loaded, SlidePilot starts to render the first 200 pages in the background and saves them to the cache.

In case your document has more than 200 pages, once you get close the the unrendered pages, while clicking through you presentation, the app will start rendering the pages which are coming next in the background and save them to the cache, removing the old pages from the cache. This way you have almost always exactly the pages in the cache, which you are about to display.

The cache has a limit of 200 pages and cleans itself, so that the users memory won't get too full. (using NSCache)

If you are interested you can read more about the pre-rendering and caching mechanisms used in SlidePilot in its Docs.

SlidePilot can be downloaded from the official website.

SlidePilot Screenshot

Disclaimer: I am the developer

  • 1
    +1 Codey, that is a great utility! It solves the rendering issues completely. Can't wait PDF links to work (have seen they are already planned).
    – Daniel
    Apr 27, 2020 at 11:35
  • @Daniel Thanks I am glad you like it. Yes PDF links are coming for sure! If you are missing something else, let me know.
    – Codey
    Apr 27, 2020 at 11:41
  • @Daniel Hey, just wanted to let you know that version 1.4.0 has been release last week and now supports PDF links.
    – Codey
    Jun 3, 2020 at 8:19
  • Thanks, works great!
    – Daniel
    Jun 15, 2020 at 21:03

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