12 Replies Latest reply: Oct 22, 2011 9:02 PM by Bill@VT RSS

    Clients get corrupted PDF documents (containing forms) in emails?

    viveredesign Community Member

      Hello,

       

      This isn't an Adobe issue per se, but many Adobe users have probably come across this IT issue:

       

      When you drag certain kinds of PDF files to Outlook as attachments to send to a client or others, they often cannot open the PDF files because they're corrupted." This happened only with a PDF FORM that we produced, but non-form PDF files seemed to work fine.

       

      After some testing, I found that it occurs when people are downloading the attachments from an online mail interface (e.g., gmail, yahoo mail, etc.)-- if they are using Outlook, the form-PDF's come across fine. If I enclose the form-PDF files in a zip file, then they come out fine too (in all cases).

       

      So, is there a "magic" way to set-up Outlook so that the raw form-PDF attachments don't become corrupted when the client's try to download them?

       

      thanks!

       

      JP

        • 1. Re: Clients get corrupted PDF documents (containing forms) in emails?
          ~graffiti ACP/MVPs

          It's generally on their end and not something to do with Outlook.

           

          Some email providors (especially web email) encode the PDF's for a faster transfer but when they are received, they aren't recognized as a PDF so they get corrupted. Not sure why this would happen specifically with forms.

           

          The recommended way to send PDF's is to Zip them (as you have found) first or post them to a web space and email the link for them to download the files.

          • 2. Re: Clients get corrupted PDF documents (containing forms) in emails?
            Stix Hart Community Member

            Hello

             

            This is not exactly the same but we had a similar problem where some customers were unable to read PDFs we emailed them (any type) and we found out eventually it was our firewall.  It was scanning them and causing packet loss (basically little bits of data falling off) and combined with some of our clients email clients they became too corrupted to read.  Another interesting point is that it was mostly a problem with larger corporate customers and government departments, which tend to have more stringent security.

             

            The only help I can offer is that you have to keep experimenting and be broad minded about what may cause it, the first thing you could try is sending them from a PC with a different configuration (OS, security suite etc) and see what happens.

            • 3. Re: Clients get corrupted PDF documents (containing forms) in emails?
              S.D.A. Community Member

              It might be a combination of things, but basically as others have suggested putting the PDF file in an archive solves most of 'em. It's a burden though because some Suzie secretaries don't know how to decompress these files (there are still some OSes that don't have built in Zip decompression or it has been removed for  security reasons). Acrobat PDFs have made a rather notrious name for themselves to as carrying javascript exploits. I hope it doesn't get to the polnt where most corporate IT departments forbid the receptions of any outside PDFs. There are rumblings out there now ...


              It used to be quite the pain when I had to send out resumes via PDF.

              • 4. Re: Clients get corrupted PDF documents (containing forms) in emails?
                ~graffiti ACP/MVPs

                S.D.A. wrote:

                 

                I hope it doesn't get to the polnt where most corporate IT departments forbid the receptions of any outside PDFs. There are rumblings out there now ...



                Ours already blocks Zip files in emails. That's why, when folks want to send me anything (especialy a PDF), I suggest posting it somewhere I can go and download it.

                • 5. Re: Clients get corrupted PDF documents (containing forms) in emails?
                  Bill@VT MVP

                  Sometimes the problem happens with the sending client. The client does not always recognize that the PDF is a binary file and does not properly encode it as an 8-bit file, but treats it as a 7-bit file, thus the corruption. Be sure that you have the client encode the file in a MIME format. See if that will do the job.

                  • 6. Re: Clients get corrupted PDF documents (containing forms) in emails?
                    JudsonJones Community Member

                    This is definitely on the side of Adobe/Microsoft. I sent the pdfs for Gmail and they were able to be downloaded and viewed fine. It was only when sending it from Outlook that the files couldn't be opened. I realize these posts were from a couple of years ago. Has anyone made any headway?

                    • 7. Re: Clients get corrupted PDF documents (containing forms) in emails?
                      ~graffiti ACP/MVPs

                      JudsonJones wrote:

                       

                      Has anyone made any headway?

                      Nope. Still happens same as it always has. Sorry.

                      • 8. Re: Clients get corrupted PDF documents (containing forms) in emails?
                        Bill@VT MVP

                        As you have said, it is an issue with Outlook. Outlook (and many other clients) look at a file and try to determine if it is binary or ascii. If the latter they just send it straight. If binary they encode so that the 8-bit nature is retained. The first 10-20 characters of a PDF are pure ascii and this is where the problem crops up. You need to see if you can force encoding and not just let Outlook make the decision. I think there is such a choice in the setup.

                         

                        Of course the other choice is to stay away from MS mail clients that are typically the problem clients. In fact, for a while I recall folks were saying that Outlook was treating a PDF as a virus and deleting it.

                        • 9. Re: Clients get corrupted PDF documents (containing forms) in emails?
                          JudsonJones Community Member

                          Thanks Bill for the response. There seem to be many encoding options but I'm sure which one to choose. I've tried a couple and none of them seem to work. There's "User define", "US-ASCII", "Unicode" "Western Eurpoean ISO" "Western European Windows" and about three dozen more. Any thoughts? I feel like I should also say that this is a fairly recent problem. I've never encountered this issue until about a week ago and all of a sudden all the pdfs I sent out couldn't be opened by folks. Thanks ahead of time for any help.

                          • 10. Re: Clients get corrupted PDF documents (containing forms) in emails?
                            Bill@VT MVP

                            The default encoding used by most mail packages is MIME. I am not saying this is the best or not, just that it is one of the more common encodings. Just looking at the raw e-mail of several e-mails I found quoted-printable and base64. I looked at one and the base text and the HTML equivalent (many clients send 2 copies in plain text and HTML) that were in the quoted-printable encoding and a PDF that was encoded as base64. I think the more important thing is that it encodes the file in a binary format (both MIME and base64 do this). You should be able to look at the raw e-mail and see what was sent. Maybe looking at the raw e-mail would help you understand the process a bit.

                            • 11. Re: Clients get corrupted PDF documents (containing forms) in emails?
                              JudsonJones Community Member

                              So I'm about to really show my ignorance. What do you mean by look at the raw email?

                              • 12. Re: Clients get corrupted PDF documents (containing forms) in emails?
                                Bill@VT MVP

                                Well, I can't check Outlook on this machine as I can't find it. I might check another machine later. Anyway, most mail packages have an option to view the raw message, not the formated one that you normally see. The raw message form has the routing header of where the e-mail traveled on the way to you and information on the type of content, that is often in a multi-part form. Part may be ASCII (generally 7-bit data) and other Base64 (binary) and such. This information is used by your mail client to display it the way you see it. In old style e-mail you only saw the raw form and had to wade though all of the extra stuff. However, that stuff can be helpful when problems crop up and that is what I was suggesting.

                                 

                                Outlook may be one of those clients that assumes you would get no value from the raw form and hides the selection, I really do not know. The raw form is the data is it is sent to you, not as you see it. My package has the option on a tab and it is easy to view.

                                 

                                In any case, your problem is likely a client encoding issue. PDFs have long had problems with mail clients as a result. Zip files are an alternative, but as suggested many companies and agencies no longer allow zip files and will strip them off of any e-mail.