OS X tip: Better PDF controls with Print

Make things easier for yourself

os x pdf services 4

Mac users -- how many times have you used the “Print” button? It’s possible you’ve used it so often you don’t even consciously see the drop down PDF dialog to the lower left any more. It’s time to get to know what this tool can do for you.

PDF power

Head over to File>Print (or press Command-P) and you’ll see the Print dialog box. When you click on PDF at the lower left corner,  you’ll be presented with a range of options as shown in the image below:

os x pdf services hacks a cheat sheet for pros

These options allow you to create a PDF from within almost any Mac app in order to save it; open it in Preview; for email as a PDF; to send via Messages; or even to add as a PDF to iBooks.

How might you use these tools?

  • To collaborate on a Web design project – all you need to do is create a PDF of the page you are building.
  • In research – simply save the document or Website you are reading and save it as a PDF using the Save as PDF command.
  • When purchasing goods online, you may save a PDF of the order to a file or to the Web Receipts Folder.
  • Reading a lengthy PDF? Use Print to Add PDF to iBooks and you’ll be able to read the document on your iPad or iPhone, so long as you’re an iCloud user.

What else can you do?

At first glance, the most obvious way to save PDFs to a specific folder on your Mac is to use the Save as PDF… command, but there’s a slicker way – you can set Print Services to save documents to a folder selected by you. You will then be able to save a document from within any app to that folder.

Just use the ‘Edit Menu…’ option:

  • When in your document, select Print
  • Select the PDF drop down menu in the Print dialog box
  • At the bottom of the menu select ‘Edit Menu…’
  • A (more than likely) empty box will appear, it looks like this:
os x pdf services2
  • Click the ‘+’ sign at the bottom left of this new box and you will find yourself in the Finder menu.

Now you can navigate to the folder you wish to store PDF versions of documents, screenshots and so on that you gather in various applications on your Mac.

For the purposes of this article I created a folder called ‘Print PDF Hacks,' which I selected in Finder. The name of the folder will appear in the formerly empty Edit Menu dialog. Better yet, if you look to the PDF drop down menu in the Print dialog box, your chosen folder now appears there as an option on the list -- just take a look:

os x pdf services 4

The great thing about this tip is that it will let you save PDFs to your dedicated folder in just two steps – launch Print, and then select the relevant folder in the PDF menu. Better yet, it’s a system-wide tip so you can save from inside any Mac app.

You can set up as many of these folders as you like, removing them from Print by selecting them in the Edit Menu dialog and clicking the minus ‘-‘ sign.

(NB: I would be frugal in the number of folders you add so as not to make the drop down menu unviable).

In some cases, you may want to automate what happens to these PDFs as you put them inside your chosen folder using Automator; among other things, you can even automate the addition of tags to make items easier to find system-wide.

Also read:

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when fresh items are published here first on Computerworld.

17 tools to protect your online security
View Comments
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies