Christopher Green

How To: Fix the weird color shift in a PDF when viewed on an iPad

March 2, 2014
Posted by Christopher

Recently I noticed a PDF I had created,  which looked completely as expected on the iMac, had a freaky color shift when viewed on my iPad. I’d used a green color like this      . But when I looked at it on the iPad, the green had shifted to a more neon color like this      . I’ve heard others mention that their PDFs had odd color shifts when viewed on an iOS device.

After doing some research and testing, it appears the issue is with the Document Color Mode for the file from which the PDF was generated. iPhones and iPads have issues interpreting PDFs whose color mode is CMYK. So the fix is to change your document’s color mode to RGB before you save as a PDF.  As soon as I did that, my green looked correct.

In my case, I was using Adobe Illustrator. Here is where you change the document color mode in it:


And here are two sample PDFs for you to see what I am talking about: ColorSamples_CMYK and ColorSamples_RGB

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