PDF Import Research Files as Aliases

For years I have been importing PDF into my projects using import -> research files as aliases. Now when I import using this process my imported PDFs are displayed as single-page image documents instead of PDFs. I see no setting under preferences for importing PDFs and no information in the manuals that address this conversion issue. Help! Thank you.

Version of Scrivener? Version of Mac OS?

Scrivener doesn’t “convert” PDF files, no matter how they’re imported. What you are probably seeing is the QuickLook preview for the file.


Everything about what I am seeing after import tells me that my imported aliased files are no longer a PDFs. “PDF display” is greyed out in View when I select an example, the document is called in the footer of my editor “Image Document” (with the icon corresponding to an image); the file is showing as only an image of the first page (PDF text is inaccessible), etc. I would be happy to share screenshots or other details.

I am using Mac Catalina 10.15.6 and Scrivener 3.12.5.

I am also being presented with the Image Tools feature if I double click on the image.

Have the aliased files been moved, or are you on a different computer from the one where they reside?



So for one of the PDFs I added a .pdf extension – something that I’ve never had to do before – and the import worked. BUT, if I import another PDF that already has a .pdf extension, well, no luck. Any suggestions or explanation?

I just went through the same process with this file. I deleted the .PDF extension that existed and retyped .pdf. That’s all I did in Finder, and now the PDF imports as an alias correctly. This makes no sense.

Can anyone help to explain this application behavior and, better yet, know how to fix it so that I don’t have to retype every pdf extension before importing individual files?

This sounds like a Mac OS issue: your system is failing to recognize that these are, in fact, PDF files. What happens if you try to open them in Preview?


The PDFs are completely functional on their own. It’s only during the import that I’m encountering this issue.

Is anyone able to assist?

What does the Get Info panel in Finder say for these files?


Thanks for the report, there is an issue when importing PDF files with an uppercase extension. They are imported as though they are images, and are treated in every like an image by the binder and editor. Internally it points to the correct file and should function fine when opened externally, but obviously the best thing to do until this is fixed is to ensure lowercase extensions: .pdf not .PDF.