PDF Docs Turning Black or White (Blank)

Learn what to do if you are experiencing PDF docs turning black or white (blank).


After uploading, breaking apart, merging or rotating a doc in Paperless Pipeline, one or more of the following occurs when previewing the doc in Paperless Pipeline's preview page that is displayed when you click the document name.

  • The background/foreground colors of the doc are swapped
  • The doc turns black
  • The doc turns completely white (empty doc)
  • Signatures are missing

Results may be consistent or random and may work properly sometimes and not others (even with the same doc).


This problem is usually caused by corrupted PDF files produced by outdated scanning software. When Pipeline tries to read such a document, it is unable to read some of the information properly thereby resulting in one of these problems.


  1. Check that the PDF has "save" permissions. First, check to make sure the doc is savable (preferably using Adobe Reader v9.0 or older). Open the doc directly from Adobe Reader and check whether the message at the top of the page says the doc can be saved or not. If it's not savable, you'll need to follow these steps to make it savable by all different versions of PDF Readers (and then our PDF processing utilities will be able to open and read them, as well): Support for Adobe Acrobat X and Reader X →
  2.  Check PDF version Check version of the doc as follows:
  3. Open the doc in Adobe Reader and select File then Properties from the main menu.
  4. If the version is older than v1.5, your scanning software is producing outdated PDFs.
  5. Replace outdated scanning software. We strongly advice updating your scanning software to a modern version that produces clean PDFs. We highly recommend using VueScan which you can purchase from hamrick.com →
  6. Disable "delete original doc" option. If you experience these problems and haven't upgraded your scanning software yet, consider turning off the option to delete originals when you merge or break apart documents. This will allow you to review that the PDF operation was successful before deleting the original doc.