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Is Your Mac Preview Highlight Not Working? – Effective Solution

Published By Chirag Arora
Approved By Anuraag Singh
Published On May 15th, 2024
Reading Time 4 Minutes Reading

Summary – In this article, We will discuss ways to fix the Mac preview highlight not working and understand why it is not working.

Preview is a built-in application for macOS used for viewing different file formats. You can use this application to edit a PDF file, do simple modifications to images, and Adjust the colors by controlling the exposure, contrast, Saturation, and many more.
There are times when users face issues with the application as it does not perform accordingly. One of the most common issues faced by users is Preview Highlight Not Working in Mac.

Let us take a look at the possible reasons behind highlights not working in preview-

Why is Highlight Not Working in Mac Preview? – Possible Reasons

  • Outdated Software- Outdated software may be the reason behind the bugs.
  • Corrupted Preferences- The preference files of the preview may be corrupted.
  • File Corrupted- There are chances that the file itself may be corrupted.
  • Permissions- Check for the necessary permissions to highlight a text.
  • Password Protection on PDF- A passkey might encrypt the PDF file.
  • System Issue- System-level issues or conflicts on your Mac can affect Preview.

How to Fix the Problem on Mac Preview Not Working?

There are certain ways you can use to fix highlight not working in Mac preview, Some of the manual methods are-

Method 1- Reset Preview Preferences

Sometimes, corrupted preference files can lead to issues with Preview. Resetting the preferences may help resolve the issue. Follow the steps below-

Step 1. If the application is open, close it.
Step 2. Open Finder and search for a directory – ~/Library/Preferences/.
Step 3. Open it and locate the file named com.apple.Preview.plist and delete it, and then restart the Mac.
Step 4. Now, Open Preview again and check if the highlight feature is working.

Method 2- Update macOS and Preview

Make sure that both your system and the application are fully updated. Sometimes, older versions carry bugs that can be the reason for the highlight not working. Updates often include bug fixes and improvements that can resolve issues with software functionality. Follow the steps given below-

Step 1. Click on the Apple menu on the top-left corner of your home screen.
Step 2. Next, click on “System Preferences” and select “Software Update”.
Step 3. If the updates are available, follow the instructions on the screen to update the system.
Step 4. Once updated, Restart your Mac and check if the highlight feature in the preview is fixed.

Method 3- Repair Disc Permissions

Repairing disk permissions can sometimes resolve issues related to Mac Preview Highlight Not Working. Follow the steps given below to repair disc permissions.

Step 1. Open “Disc Utility” from applications.
Step 2. After that, go to the Utilities Folder and select your device’s startup disc from the list on your left.
Step 3. Click on the “First Aid” tab.
Step 4.  Lastly, select “Run” or “Repair disc permissions”.

Note: The wording may be different depending on the version of your MacOS.

Once the process is complete, restart your Mac and check if the highlight not working in Mac Preview is fixed.

If the above-mentioned methods do not work at all, Moreover, there might be a chance that the PDF file contains sensitive data and might be password protected, Well in that case, you can use a professional software solution for the purpose. We will look further at the method of using software to fix highlights not working in the preview.

Pro Tip- Solution To Mac Preview Highlight Not Working

Users can use MacWareTools PDF Password Unlocker for Mac to fix the issue as the software lets you easily unlock password-protected PDF files on your Mac, Also, with the help of this application, one can easily copy, edit, and print the data inside the PDF without worrying about Data-loss.


Preview is a beneficial tool for editing PDFs and images on Mac. But sometimes password-secured files can be troublesome and may cause problems like Mac preview highlight not working. To wind up, I have mentioned some manual methods that may help you resolve the issue but there are some limitations with them. I would suggest you go with the software solution so you can do your work efficiently and accurately without any hurdles.

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