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ScanSnap Users Should Delay Sierra Upgrades

Fujitsu (a TidBITS sponsor) is warning users of the company’s ScanSnap document scanners and accompanying software to avoid upgrading to macOS 10.12 Sierra at this point. Fujitsu has identified a variety of problems associated with its ScanSnap software when running in Sierra. They include:

  • Some scanned pages in a PDF may become blank, either when opened, after being edited, or when the document is converted to a searchable PDF. These issues can apply to previously scanned documents as well.

  • Black-and-white pages modified in Sierra may be unexpectedly saved as color, which increases the size of PDF files.

  • When exporting images through the Quick Menu, the images may be displayed as blank pages in the preview screen.

  • Using the Merge Pages feature of ScanSnap Organizer may delete some pages.

  • When using duplex scanning with business cards, data on the back sides of cards isn’t imported to CardMinder.

These problems affect documents created with all ScanSnap scanners including the ScanSnap Evernote Edition.

Fujitsu does not provide an estimated date for an update that will provide Sierra compatibility, but we’ll be sure to mention it when it appears. Until then, we recommend that anyone who relies on a ScanSnap scanner delay upgrading. The problems are not guaranteed — one ScanSnap user on TidBITS Talk reported no issues with scans he made with Sierra’s public beta — but because they can also apply to previously scanned documents, they merit serious caution.

If you use a ScanSnap scanner and have already upgraded to Sierra, Fujitsu recommends opening files only with ScanSnap Organizer Preview. And, if you do use other apps to open PDFs, be sure to avoid saving any changes.

After the initial publication of this article, David Hamrick, developer of VueScan, told me that VueScan is compatible with Sierra and supports ScanSnap scanners with its independent drivers. As such, VueScan doesn’t suffer from the problems facing the ScanSnap software, although using VueScan won’t address issues with previously scanned documents.

 

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Comments about ScanSnap Users Should Delay Sierra Upgrades
(Comments are closed.)

Peter N Lewis  An apple icon for a Friend of TidBITS 2016-09-20 18:28
Well, that is problematic! I just tested mine and it worked on a test scan, so here’s hoping it is not quite as bad or as universal as made out. Otherwise that's going to be a real loss for productivity, I love my ScanSnap!
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-09-20 19:18
My guess is that it's not a guaranteed problem, but that they can't predict when it will happen. I imagine that if you check all your scans, you'll know if it bit you and can take steps to remedy the situation.
Andrew Tagliabue  2016-09-21 16:20
According to a further release from Fujitsu on the ScanSnap website (http://scansnapcommunity.com/features/14447-urgent-notice-for-mac-users-serious-issues-affecting-pdf-creation-and-editing-on-macos-sierra-may-cause-permanent-data-loss/ ), they are working with Apple on a solution. It is unclear whether the problem lies in the PDF files ScanSnap creates or the way the PDF engine in macOS Sierra renders them. Seems like Fujitsu wants to point the finger at Apple but doesn't quite go that far.

This leaves open the question of whether a fix is going to have to come from Fujitsu or from Apple in the form of an OS update.

Given that the problem can appear on any PDF created by ScanSnap in the past, it seems like ScanSnap has been creating problematic PDFs for a long time, or Apple's newest PDF engine is not being as forgiving of file format variations as in the past.

Fujitsu hasn't answered the question of whether PDFs that are created by ScanSnap Cloud are affected. These PDFs are created without going through a direct connection to a Mac. They just get delivered to your Mac via whichever cloud service you choose.

Whatever the case, this is a show-stopper for me. I can't risk upgrading to Sierra until it's fixed.
Andrew Tagliabue  2016-09-21 10:01
Given Apple's continuing effort to lock down security on macOS, it just occurs to me that perhaps they did something to their PDF rendering that closed potential vectors for security vulnerabilities, but it had this negative effect on the way Fujitsu/ScanSnap was creating its PDFs. Just a thought.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-09-21 10:04
Thanks for pointing to those new details from Fujitsu, Andrew!

The PDF rendering engine in macOS is a little funky — I know people at Adobe who are very unimpressed with it — but I've never heard of any issues along these lines before, which leads me to believe that Fujitsu is going beyond the basics of what macOS provides.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-09-21 10:51
I've updated the article to note that VueScan works with the ScanSnap scanners in Sierra, so it might offer a useful workaround for ScanSnap users who need to upgrade to Sierra.
James Katt  2016-09-26 05:19
ExactScan also works with the Fuji SnapScan. Their driver also is faster in scanning than Fuji's own driver. For documents, ExactScan blows away VueScan for speed.
Jonathan Dagle  2016-09-26 21:04
I wonder if previously scanned docs would be ok if opened in PDFpen/Pro. This is certainly a strange problem.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-09-27 09:11
The implication is very much that they might not be OK.
Jonathan Dagle  2016-09-27 09:47
Is it that clear? If the rendering engine in 10.12 is the problem, doesn't PDFpen have it's own engine? What about Acrobat/Reader? The info so far is very thin on how existing files become damaged...
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-09-27 09:50
By "clear," I meant from what Fujitsu has said. :-)

My strong suspicion is that Acrobat Pro is completely self-contained, but that most other PDF apps on the Mac rely at least in part on Apple's PDF engine.
steve12  2016-09-26 22:55
The existing document incompatibility worries me. Aren't they just PDF files? If I use preview to open them will I have a problem?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-09-27 09:13
If the underlying PDF format conflicts with Sierra's PDF engine, then opening with any app AND THEN SAVING could blank out pages. You can make changes in a PDF with Preview, so if you saved those changes, that could theoretically damage the documents.

You could always make a copy of the document in the Finder first, and then verify that every page is OK after you make and save changes. It doesn't sound like every PDF will experience the problem.
Norman Cohen  2016-09-27 21:28
I use DevonThink Pro on Sierra. I don't use the ScanSnap organizing software, just the driver to perform the scan and route to DevonThink Pro. So far, I have seen no problems with this workflow, but will keep my eyes open!

Norm
Andrew Tagliabue  2016-09-28 08:54
There is a new update from Fujitsu as of yesterday: http://scansnapcommunity.com/features/14506-updated-notice-on-scansnap-compatibility-status-with-macos-sierra

It seems that the most extreme danger of data loss exists only with scanned documents of size A3, an unusual paper size, especially in the United States. A3 is a large paper size, the European equivalent of American "Tabloid" or "Ledger" paper (11x17 inches).

Fujitsu also says a fix is coming in mid-October.
So it seems most concerns were overblown? The Fujitsu update says the loss of previously scanned data is linked to their own management and editing software. And the new scanning problems are rather limited. Am I getting this right?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-09-28 16:29
Yeah, after all their dire warnings, the problems seem pretty specific and easily avoided.