Acrobat Preview mode doesn't show PMS spot colors

New Here ,
Nov 27, 2012 Nov 27, 2012

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Out of the blue, the preview mode in Acrobat 9 is showing PMS spot colors as black, CMYK colors show up fine. The actual pdf itself is fine. This happens when I make pdfs "High Quality" or "Press Quality" from Indesign 6. Curiously, it does not happen when I make a "Smallest File". However when I attach these pdfs to email, the spot colors appear black.

I've been using 9 for a long time and I've been using Indesign 6 for a few months now. I'm on a Mac Pro, OSX 10.6.8. I can't figure out if there is something that was unchecked or checked that is causing this problem to come up seemingly out of nowhere.

Any advice is much appreciated,

Thanks!

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Macintosh, Print and prepress

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LEGEND ,
Nov 27, 2012 Nov 27, 2012

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Not entirely clear of the workflow, so let's see.

You design in InDesign and export.

Open that PDF in Acrobat - do you see the spot colours?

Or does it only happen after you email?

You say preview mode. Is this output preview?  So it's normally OK? But when you click on a single plate it shows as black?

Can you fill in the details...

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New Here ,
Nov 27, 2012 Nov 27, 2012

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Yes, I design in Indesign6 and export to make a pdf. When I open the PDF, spot colors are there, everything fine. When I attach it to an email, the spot colors are black within my own email. Conversely and fortunately, the recipient does see the spot color when they get the email.

This also happens when I click on the pdf file on my hard drive to see it and the "preview" shows the spot colors in black.

Thanks!

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LEGEND ,
Nov 27, 2012 Nov 27, 2012

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Ok, Preview  = Mac OS X Preview application, right?

I think I have a sort of explanation. You have two different pieces of software on your system that can read PDFs. One is Acrobat. The other is Mac OS X itself.

This Mac OS X PDF reader is used by Preview. And, it is used when Mail chooses to show a PDF on screen (which it sometimes does when you attach a single page PDF).

So... it sounds as if Acrobat is working fine, but the Mac OS PDF Reader is not working too well for you. This isn't a separate product, it just gets updated with each release of Mac OS X. So if you are running an old Mac OS, it may be fixed in the latest.

(Updated: just to note that if I have it right, to talk about "Acrobat Preview" is not right - it is just Preview, and it is made by Apple, not Adobe).

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New Here ,
Nov 27, 2012 Nov 27, 2012

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I suspected that it might be a Mac problem too, since the PDFs were just fine. It's even more curious that pdfs made from earlier versions of Indesign don't have that problem at all. Reading through your explanation makes me think it's an Indesign 6/Mac OS support problem.

Thanks so much for hashing this through with me!

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LEGEND ,
Nov 27, 2012 Nov 27, 2012

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Adobe always seem to be tuning how they do spot colours - always within the rules, but perhaps in ways people (that is programmers) didn't see before.

As a matter of interest, what Mac OS X version is it?

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New Here ,
Nov 27, 2012 Nov 27, 2012

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I'm using Mac OSX 10.6.8. I've read that Mountain Lion and CS6 have major compatibility issues, so I won't be upgrading my operating system anytime soon to try to fix this. This little glitch is nothing compared to what others have gone through w/OSX 10.8 and CS6.

I haven't read about anyone else w/this problem. It must be particular to the combo of my OS and CS6. Bummer.

Thanks again for your interest and help.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 27, 2012 Nov 27, 2012

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You're quite wrong. No major problems between Mountain Lion and CS6. This is misleading information.

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New Here ,
Dec 05, 2012 Dec 05, 2012

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I'm on 10.8.2 and CS6; no major problems that I'm aware of.

HOWEVER, it's true, spot colors don't show up in OS X Preview. They're black boxes and the only way I found out was when a client freaked out about colors. In Acrobat they're "spot" on.

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New Here ,
Dec 05, 2012 Dec 05, 2012

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I'm glad to hear you and others don't have the issues that others complained about on mac forums. BTW, that preview thing is annoying, but whatever. Thanks for your response.

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New Here ,
Dec 15, 2012 Dec 15, 2012

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I think I know what your problem is. Adobe has changed the way it handles Pantone colors with CS6. Before, it defaulted to using CMYK values to represent PMS, but now they are using Lab values instead. It seems that Macs preview mode doesen't support Lab color.

When you save out a file using smallest file size, all colors are converted to RGB, which is why they preview correctly. You could customize the "print quality" export PDF settings to convert spot colors to CMYK or RGB values  if you just want a higher quality PDF to show your client and don't need to them as spot colors. Alternately, you can manually convert the PMS values from Lab to CMYK in your swatches palette and keep them as spot colors.

I'm looking for a way to get a good preview in the finder while maintaining the PMS Lab values, as they are producing much better results on our proofer.

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Dec 15, 2012 Dec 15, 2012

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It was correct for Adobe to use the Lab alternate color space for display of Pantone spot colors. Why? Two reasons:

(1)     InDesign and Illustrator are now consistent with Photoshop's behaviour with non-process color channels. This interoperability issue has been complained about for years.

(2)     When one referred to the CMYK alternate color space values of Pantone colors, the question naturally comes up as to which CMYK color space those deviceCMYK values represent. Are those values for SWOP or Gracol or what? According to what Pantone told me personally years ago, they were SWOP, but not so-labelled. Thus, unless your output CMYK color space is SWOP, use of those CMYK colors is simply wrong!!! Using Lab alternate colors will allow whatever renders those spot colors in either RGB or CMYK to properly render them in the actual final color space!

Unfortunately, there is nothing that Adobe can do to cause Apple's preview product to properly display these colors. By the way, this problem also afflicts the built-in PDF viewer in the iOS products as well as MacOS X. Fortunately, under MacOS, you can easily download and install the free Adobe Reader and have it do all the PDF display in lieu of Apple's preview. Although we do have Adobe Reader available for iOS, Apple does not let us replace preview in iOS for PDF preview. You must view in preview and send the file to Adobe Reader.

Of course, if enough Apple users complained to Apple management about the numerous anomalies of its preview program, maybe after all these years, they might actually fix it to properly handle Lab colors (as well as transparency).

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, former Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021)

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New Here ,
Dec 16, 2012 Dec 16, 2012

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Thanks for this detailed explanation, it's really helpful. In the past, the CMYK equivalents of Pantone colors were not always accurate for print purposes(and let's face it, neither is digital or offset printing) so I used the Pantone process book for more accuracy. Are you saying with CS6 conversion of spot colors to CMYK is more accurate now(if SWAP labelled)?

As to your comment on fixing other things like transparency, I can see why jpgs don't support transparency, but why doesn't Indesign support transparent color tiffs (I use .psd or eps files for that), or am I missing something?

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Dec 16, 2012 Dec 16, 2012

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For the Pantone spot colors, if you want accurate rendition with process colors, always use the Lab alternates. Note of course, that many of the Pantone spot colors are outside the gamut that normal CMYK printing can yield and as such, such accurate rendition is limited to the gamut restrictions.

TIFF files will transparency are supported in all Adobe CS applications. What do you think is missing?

JPEG files don't support transparency because the specification of the standard doesn't provide for transparency. (JPEG was originally designed primarily as a means of compressing photographics, not digital imagery in general!) This isn't an Adobe issue. The JPEG2000 specification does allow for transparency.

Also, EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) doesn't support transparency of any type whatsoever and should be considered a legacy graphics format for existing, non-color managed, opaque content.

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, former Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021)

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New Here ,
Dec 16, 2012 Dec 16, 2012

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Sorry, I misspoke. yes, Adobe does support transparent tiffs. I'll check out the Lab colors.

Thanks

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New Here ,
Dec 16, 2012 Dec 16, 2012

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Thanks so much for the insightful information!

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New Here ,
Mar 11, 2013 Mar 11, 2013

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I had the same issues. I have a letterhead designed in Illustrator with 3 spot colors. After saving the file as a pdf from illustrator, Mac Preview show the colors as black. I won't restate what has stated, but the issue according to my research is the lack of support of Lab Colors.

Now for an actual solution:

When you save as - pdf, change the standard from [Illustrator Default] to PDF/X-1a:2001. This allows you to see the spot colors in preview, etc. This should be sufficient for spot printing, and still allows for printing separations (I even checked myself).

Note: I had to uncheck CMYK when going to print the actual seps, but I could print the pantone spot separations just fine. In short: The good news is this seems to preserve the ability to view the colors in preview. The downside is that I think it is adding in CMYK equivalent information and that's why Preview is able to display it. I'm ok with that as long as I tell my printer to print via spot colors and not CMYK.

I hope this makes sense. I tried to explain it the best I could.

-Jason

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