Filemaker Pro PDF’s Container Fields

I have been using Apple’s FileMaker Pro database App for many years. It is an excellent application that is easy to use. Over the last few months I have had a problem with PDF files displaying in one of my databases. After doing some online research I have discovered this is a very prominent issue in the last few versions of FileMaker Pro.

FM Container Fields

One of the cool features of FileMaker Pro (hereinafter referred to as FMP) are Container Fields. A Container Field is designed to hold kinds of data like a picture, PDF file, Audio/Video file, or just a plain standalone File. It is super handy in database design.

In my case, I built a database for listing my software applications. I have used other standalone Apps over the years, but the Developers always drop them so I decided, “roll your own.” Here is the main window of my Software Database:

Software Serials

The problem is in the Attachments Tab. I like to attach a software license with each record to keep it handy for review and possible upgrades. This is what it is supposed to look like if it is functioning properly:

Container Field

You can drag a PDF file into the container or use the Insert command. The PDF just appears. It is really easy to do. 

However, starting a few months ago the PDF file would not display anything no matter what I did. As earlier mentioned, this appears to be a pretty common problem with FMP Container Fields. 

After playing around with this, I finally found a solution. To resolve this go into Layout Mode:

Layout Mode

Once you are in there click on the Container Field to select it:

Container Field

After selecting the Container Field, select the Data Pane in the Inspector to the right of the window:

Data Pane

Scroll down to the bottom of the Data Pane. Originally, I had “Interactive content PDF” selected. I change that to Images and left “Preserve PDF transparency” on. Now, when I drag a PDF file into the Container Field it appears!! Why does this work you ask? I have no idea why this works, but it does and that is good enough for me. Perhaps in the future the “normal” setting for PDF’s will start working again, but until then I am good to go.


If you are a FileMaker Pro user, and have this issue give my fix a try. If you are not a FileMaker Pro user you might give it a look if you need database functionality.