How to configure OS X’s Preview app to always start in Single Page mode

On one of my ‘how to disable’ series blogs, a reader asked about this specific issue and so especially for you Peter Bevan, here it is!

Have you ever wished that Preview would default to ‘Single Page mode’ instead of ‘Continuous scroll’ when opening new PDFs?

You can toggle this as per opened PDF by selecting the ‘view menu’ for the individual pdf and selecting ‘Single Page’:

configure osx's preview app to start in single page mode
However, to enable ‘Single Page mode’ as the default for all newly opened PDFs, you can simply use the Preview apps’ Preferences and go to the ‘PDF’ tab and select ‘Single Page’ from the ‘Opening for the first time’ section:

enable 'Single Page mode' as the default for all newly opened PDFs

This can also be toggled using a defaults write unix command if you wanted to remotely make this change or wanted to include this in a system deployment.

The problem with this preference, is that it is really embedded, since Apple’s creation of Sandboxed applications and app containers. (Learn more about this on either one of our OS X courses – OS X Security and OS X Support Essentials).

To toggle this preference from the command line, ensure that the Preview app has been completely quit and therefore not open.

Then all you need to do is log in as an admin user and enter these two lines of command separately in the Terminal application (located in /Applications/Utilities/) each time pressing the Enter key after the command:

cd ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Preview/Data/Library/Preferences/
defaults write com.apple.Preview kPVPDFDefaultPageViewModeOption 1

Open up the Preview app and verify that the PDF Preference has been updated. You will now notice that the default view option is now ‘Single Page’ mode for newly opened PDFs:

Open up the Preview app and verify that the PDF Preference has been updated

If you do want to revert completely back to the default setting of ‘Continuous Scroll’, just enter the following two commands:

cd ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Preview/Data/Library/Preferences/
defaults write com.apple.Preview kPVPDFDefaultPageViewModeOption 0

You could also change the default setting to ‘Two Pages’ by using the same two commands but replace the final integer in the second command with a ‘2’.

Disclaimer:

While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post. Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.

This feature has been tested using OS X v10.8.4 which was the latest Mac OS release at the time of writing.

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