OT: Better Readability of PDF (like the Scrivener Manual)

I noticed that there’s now a PDF User Manual included with Scrivener 2.1 (thanks, Keith!).

Several years ago, I stumbled across a way to increase the readability of PDF files on my laptop when using Apple’s Preview: trimming the whitespace around the pages.

  1. Open the PDF file in Preview.
  2. Choose the Select Tool (Tools -> Select Tool).
  3. Go to a non-title page in the document. In the Scrivener User Manual, page 10 is a good one to use.
  4. Draw a box around all the text on the page.
  5. In the lower-right corner of Preview, select thumbnail mode. The icon for thumbnail mode is the two little boxes on top of each other. You can also get in this mode by going to View->Sidebar->Thumbnails in the menu.
  6. Click the mouse anywhere in the sidebar area – the area that is now showing thumbnails of the pages.
  7. Type Command-A to select all the pages.
  8. Type Command-K to crop all the pages. This will crop all pages to the box you drew in step #4.
  9. Go into Automatically Resize mode (View -> Automatically Resize). The text will now zoom up to fill the entire Preview window.
  10. Save the document to preserve the Crop Box for future viewings.

Trimming is not destructive. If you trim too much or too little on your first try, you can always re-do the crop box. View->PDF Display->Media Box will display the pages without cropping. View->PDF Display->Crop Box displays the pages with cropping.


For anyone in academia reading a lot of journal articles as PDFs, Phil’s hint is very helpful. I’ve been doing it for a while now and for some papers it can make all the difference. I’ve found it especially helpful for those articles I want to print.

I found Skim some years ago and now use it for reading all PDF files. Its features include: magnification, notes, anchored noted, easy and fast navigation, various kinds of highlighting, zoom, and much more.

It’s free.