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Know When Mac OS X Mail Will Show a PDF Inline, When as an Icon

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Mac OS X Mail and PDF Files: Inline or Icon?

Will it or won't it? If I attach this PDF file, will Mac OS X Mail display its content or just an icon? And why can I view this invoice I received inline while I have to open that in Preview?

Mac OS X Mail seems to enjoy the confusion and guessing evoked by its handling PDF file attachments. Fortunately, there is rule and regularity — if not sense and sensibility — to how PDF files are treated.

Know When Mac OS X Mail Will Show a PDF Inline, When as an Icon

To know whether Mac OS X Mail will display a PDF file attachment as an icon or inline, look at the file's length:

  • PDF files of only one page are displayed inline in the message text.
  • PDF files with two or more pages are shown as icons.

For the single-page PDF files, you can switch between inline and icon display by selecting View as Icon or View in Place from the context menu respectively. To open the context menu, click on the PDF (shown inline or as an icon) with the right mouse button, click with the left mouse button while holding down Ctrl or tap with two fingers on the trackpad while the mouse cursor is over the PDF.

Using Attachment Tamer, you can make Mail show all PDF files as icons.

(Updated June 2011)

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