Opening Our PDFs on iPhones and iPads

Posted May 2021

Have you ever opened an INFORRMS-generated PDF on an iPhone or iPad only to find that sections are blacked-out, even though the exact same PDF looks fine when opened on a Windows PC? If you haven’t, chances are at least one of your customers may have encountered this odd problem.

The problem isn’t with INFORRMS or the PDFs themselves — it’s actually in the way Apple devices display PDFs. By default, iPhones and iPads use Apple’s own PDF software to open and display PDFs, and it doesn’t exactly follow the standard PDF display rules, which can sometimes result in otherwise perfectly formed PDFs being displayed incorrectly.

While we can’t fix Apple’s PDF software for them, we do have a painless workaround for when you or your customers need to open or print PDFs from Apple devices. The trick is bypassing iOS built-in PDF software altogether by using a dedicated PDF app to open and print PDFs. Both Adobe Acrobat Reader and FoxIt PDF Reader Mobile are free apps available from the Apple App store, and either will display PDFs correctly.

Once the Acrobat or FoxIt app is installed on your iPhone or iPad, just open or print the PDFs in that app instead of directly from the device’s mail app or file system. Not only do the apps fix the black-out issue, they also display all PDFs more accurately than Apple’s built-in software. FoxIt even automatically puts a handy “open” link into Apple’s Mail app for easy one-click operation.