100 Tips #21: How To Save PDF Files



If Apple were interested in marketing their computers to people who live just to print, they’d probably use a slogan like: “Macs: PDF everywhere.” Or something.

Because it’s true. The ability to turn anything that’s printable into a PDF file is built right in to the OS X operating system. And it’s easy to get to from anywhere.

Say you have a document. It doesn’t really matter what it is, or what application you used to create it – as long as you can print it, the chances are you can turn it into a PDF.

Just hit Command+P, or select Print from the File menu. You’ll see a button labelled “PDF” at the bottom-left of the Print dialog; click this, and you get a bunch of PDF options. The second one down is “Save as PDF…” That’s all there is to it.


If you have other PDF-friendly applications installed, they will appear here, so you can save PDFs directly to those applications.

You can save all sorts of things as PDFs. Documents, spreadsheets, web pages, notes, photo contact sheets, anything. If you can print it, you can PDF it.

Every time I show this to a newcomer who’s switched from Windows, they smile and their eyes light up. Then they say: “Why hasn’t it always been that easy?”

By which they mean: “Why wasn’t it that easy on Windows?”

  • Lmileva

    I agree that’s an incredibly simple way of saving and using documents and webpages in PDF.
    The problem i have as a brand new mac user is that when i save it in PDF(as per your instructions) I get just half of the actual document and the rest of the page are links (usually these links appear on the very right side of the original document) Obviously i need to do something to resize or compress the document in order to get the whole view in the PDF document…
    Your help will be greatly appreciated.

  • amityweb

    A problem I find though is the PDF is prints as a very large file size. I just printed 2 pages of A4 with a small logo and image on the front page, and its almost 1Mb. A Windows equivalent (using Bullzip) is 100Kb.

  • patriciacarlsonfreelance

    Thanks for the tips!!! I use ’em all the time!!!