There’s PDF Power in the Print menu

There’s PDF Power in the Print menu
Mac Tip #358, 01 October 2008

Way back in Mac OS X’s infancy I wrote How to make PDFs in OS X, Mac Tip #97/16-April-2003. The Tip remains useful, but we can add some sophistication to it.

That old Tip simply suggested ‘printing’ the PDF as a saved file on your computer, but there may be other interesting options too.

Note that I’m writing this Tip about Mac OS X 10.5.5. If you use a different version of Mac OS X things may not be quite the same.

To make a PDF from anything on screen (not just a web page) go to the File Menu and choose Print….

Once the Print Dialog box appears click on the PDF button at the bottom. A whole new menu opens up, with various possibilities depending on what software you have installed on your Mac.

The screenshot shows I can do many PDF-related activities, including mail the PDF, Save it as a JPEG or TIFF, save it directly to iPhoto, Aperture, Evernote or DEVONthink Pro.

For example, I chose to save to iPhoto a web page I was viewing. After a few moments of processing iPhoto opened up and displayed the web page as 3 separate JPEG images.

Then I tried saving the PDF to Evernote. After a few moments a new Note popped open in Evernote containing the page as a PDF.

Finally I chose to Mail a PDF copy of this Tip as I was writing it. opened up, with a new message ready for me to enter the email address and Subject line.

Warning: a PDF isn’t always the best way to mail information around, but if you need it, then this is a very handy way to do it.

Note: Wondering, as I was, what the PDF-X option in the PDF menu is all about? It’s a specialised form of PDF. There’s more information at Wikipedia.

PDF can be a great way to save and store information for future reference or for printing. Combine Print to PDF with an excellent information storing application such as Evernote and you have a smooth and efficient workflow.

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  1. Ken said:

    Just discovered this:

    Go to the folder ~/Library/PDF Services. Place an alias there of the folder you want to save to. The name you give that folder is added to the Print dialog box PDF menu.


  2. Miraz Jordan said:

    I’m glad that helped Patrick.

    To find where the original is of an alias:

    * select the alias in the Finder
    * choose File menu – Get Info. The Info window appears.
    * Look in the General section of the Get Info window. It tells you both where the alias is and where the original is.



  3. Patrick said:

    Dear Miraz,

    Thank you. That helped significantly. Voodoo Pad and several other still have aliases there that replenish when I trash them. Any idea how I figure out where they point to or how to delete the wee beggars?

  4. Miraz Jordan said:

    Patrick asked: “My “Print to PDF” menu is clogged with too much old software I no longer use and I’d love to clean it up — any idea where I go to delete Yojimbo and the slew of trial software add-ons? Thank you for your help!”

    When I looked in the /Library and ~/Library folders I found a folder called PDF Services. Both of these contained items such as :

    * Save PDF to folder as JPEG.workflow
    * Save PDF to folder as TIFF.workflow
    * Save PDF to iPhoto.workflow

    I take no responsibility for what might happen – but I’d suggest removing the ones you don’t want from those folders and then maybe logging out or restarting.

    Let us know what happens, if you do that.



  5. Miraz Jordan said:

    I can see the option to Edit the Menu. That brings up a window that appears to allow you to add and remove printing workflows.

    I imagine if you have a named workflow somewhere you could add it through this menu.

    I *do* know that sometimes when I’ve installed other software it has also added items to this PDF menu. For example, Evernote and Aperture have both added “Save to Evernote / Aperture” items.

  6. Miraz Jordan said:

    PL asked: “When I want to create a PDF under Mac OSX, I just select “Print” then use the menu in the dialog box, for selecting the action (PDF, PDF to iPhoto and so on…)
    But do yo know if there are add-on for this menu? It has a feature “Change the menu” which let imagine you can erase “module” from this menu, but also add other.But I can’t find such other module.”

  7. Miraz Jordan said:

    Hi Doug,

    that’s a bit of a puzzler. Is the folder you’ve selected one that *should* allow you to save (for example, your Documents folder). You didn’t accidentally select a folder on a CD or other medium you can’t write to?

    Can you save other things to that same folder? For example, if you create a text fie and try to Save to that folder from the open text document’s File menu , does that work?

  8. Doug said:


    I was wondering if you know how to edit the save menu that appears when you click the PDF button? I followed the steps … edit menu, click the “+”, select the folder … the close button is the only option.


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