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Preview page number vs page name  



I use a CAD application that can publish to PDF and name every page of the pdf with the sheet number and sheet name.

If I publish a single sheet to pdf and open it in Preview, the thumbnail will have the sheet number and sheet name under it.

If I add another pdf as a second page in the first pdf document, then under the thumbnails it changes to 1 and 2.

(This is not true for .jpgs.  They retain their names when concatenated in a Preview document.)

How do I get the pdf page names to remain in the thumbnail with multi page documents?




4 Answers

I think you're assuming similar behavior for two different capabilities of Preview:

  1. aggregating multiple files into one window
  2. combining PDF pages into a single document

When you open multiple JPEGs or drag them into a Preview window sidebar, you're seeing separate files, each with its own thumbnail. Previous used to be able to do this with PDFs, too, but I think the feature has been dropped.

When you pull multiple PDFs of any length in to a Preview window sidebar, they get combined into a single document, so it's not unusual that your page numbers are adjusting depending on where files/pages are placed.

I don't know whether Adobe Reader can do what you're describing.


You're correct!  I was assuming that.  

Unfortunately, I need to find a way to show page name information in the thumbnail and not the page number that Adobe Acrobat Reader or Preview add.

I took a swing in PDF Pen Pro and even wrote to Smile, but it doesn't seem possible with PDF Pen PRo.

It seems a shame to take a PDF with lots of vector information and rasterize it, but that's the only solution I can think of.  So even though the jpg's are really a collection of files, Preview will concatenate and display them in a way that will be accepted.

There has to be a better way.  Right?

I don't know if there's a better way. Exporting the PDF pages as JPEGs doesn't accomplish exactly what you're seeking because you'd have to open the collection of images each time to get them to display in this specific way. That sounds inconvenient. Ultimately, we're just talking about how a given image viewer displays documents.

So, perhaps you're not looking for a PDF viewer per se. What about DEVONthink? Would its display of PDF documents satisfy your need? Or, for that matter, how is the Finder not sufficient? It sounds like you're just trying to see a bunch of files and their names.

Please clarify your end goal.


Thanks, Ben.

I'll clarify.

I need to submit PDFs of architectural drawings to the building department.  Up until the pandemic it was all done on paper.

They are opening the pdfs in an application called Bluebeam, which is just a fancy PDF viewer.

In the thumbnail view they are demanding that the text below the thumbnail image be the sheet number of the drawing sheet: A1, A2 for architectural sheets.  M1, M2 for mechanical, etc.

The software I use to create the drawings puts in that information and more, but not in a way that doesn't get overwritten in pdf viewers as 1, 2, 3, …

I've since found that I can publish to pdf from the drafting software as separate pdf files, then use Bluebeam to "collect" the separate files into one pdf.  There is a setting that will keep the original drawing sheet/file names (A1 Site Plan, A2 Foundation Plan, etc).

Interestingly enough, when that pdf is opened in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, the thumbnails have the correct name below.  When opened in Preview, Preview overwrites that information with 1, 2, 3….

I'm using the 30 day trial of Bluebeam.  But it is End of Life for Mac.  They have already stopped development.

So I'm looking for a way to combine single page pdfs into a multi page pdf in a way that doesn't overwrite the thumbnail image text with 1, 2, 3…



Appreciate the detailed context. Since you've found that Adobe Reader retains the information, can you use its Combine Files tool to unify your PDFs with the same effect?

I also recommend you send feedback to Apple regarding this issue with Preview.