Cannot save image in OS X Preview

Posted on 2012-04-04
Last Modified: 2012-04-05
Hi guys,

One of my clients has an issue with the Preview application in Mac OS X.  I have limited Mac knowledge but this has been going on for several months now and I need some help!

The user opens a TIFF file using Preview.  He resizes or crops the image and then saves it as a different file name.  However, he can only save it as a PDF.  Trying to save as a TIFF or JPEG gives the error:

The document "<filename1>" could not be saved as "<filename2>".

This only happens after editing certain image files.  Most are OK.

We've tried:

1. Opening from different sources, e.g. copying from the original NAS location to the Windows (SBS) 2003 server or desktop first;
2. Saving to different locations such as the desktop or new folder on the local Mac's hard disk;
3. Different users;
4. Different Macs;
5. Different versions (I think we tried two OS X 10.6s and one OS X 10.5).

The particular image file that we are having trouble with today causes the problem in all 5 of those tests.

It WILL save the image as a different name to/from any of these locations if it isn't edited first.  So it doesn't look to me like any kind of permissions problem.

I am out of ideas!  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated :-)
Question by:DJNafey
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LVL 39

Accepted Solution

Eoin OSullivan earned 500 total points
ID: 37809781
How is the original TIFF being generated?

Can you provide a screenshot of the error message?
Can you provide a sample of the TIFF file?

Can you use an alternative application to open the TIFF and save as JPEG or TIFF? e.g. Photoshop or other image editing application?

Author Comment

ID: 37810153
Thanks for your reply eoinosullivan :-)

I've actually been thinking along the same lines as you this morning.  

The user mentioned that he normally receives images from their clients via email (Microsoft Entourage 2004) but this problematic file was just copied from their client's web site.  I did get the user to email the problematic image to himself in case that fixed it .....but it was a bit of a long shot!  If all of the problem files are being copied from web sites, then maybe there is something that the web designers are doing to the images to stop them being modified.  I'll ask the user whether he thinks that they only get problems when they have copied the image from a web site.

If that's true, then we could test what happens if we download the image through Internet Explorer on a Windows PC and/or what happens when it is edited on a Windows PC.

The standard users don't have any other image editing applications on their Macs but there is another Mac in the office that has Photoshop CS4.  We could give that a try too.

I'll be going over to the client's office later today so I'll be back in a few hours with an update.  Thanks again :-)
LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:Eoin OSullivan
ID: 37810227
TIFF files are a particularly complex format.
They can be CMYK or RGB, single page or multipage .. and different encryption formats can be used ... not all applications support all types of TIFF.   TIFF files usually contain a preview or thumbnail image which allows you to open and view it ... but may not let you edit it if the format of the file is not fully supported.  I wasn't aware that OSX Preview might have limitations but I'd not be surprised if there was an obscure TIFF format it didn't support properly.

I'd get Photoshop to open one of these problem TIFF files and see if it has any settings that are different from others that open OK.

Author Comment

ID: 37814452
I was over at the client's office earlier today but the user that I have been dealing with was busy and I only managed to talk to him for a minute or two.  It emerged from that conversation that some of the problem files that they've had in the past have come via email from their clients - the possible pattern about the users copying them from web sites has been ruled out.

The good news, however, is that I went back again later and did another test of my own.  Photoshop CS4 could open one of the problem TIFF files, crop it and then save it as a TIFF file with a different name.  So it's not a Mac problem - it's a Preview problem.

The offices are now closed until Tuesday but I'll see if I can get some time from the users next week to try to isolate the difference in how Photoshop is saving the TIFF file - the 'Save As' process gave me a variety of different options for settings that I didn't really understand but, if we can see similar options in Preview, then we might be able to get Preview to save the TIFF the same way that Photoshop does.

I was planning to leave this thread open until I could update it with more definite information about the solution .....but I don't know for sure when I'll get together with the user to work it out.  So I think I'll close it now.

Thanks again for your help :-)

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