How to Print to PDF on Any Computer, Smartphone, or Tablet

By Chris Hoffman on December 4th, 2015

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All modern computers, smartphones, and tablets can now easily print web pages and other documents to PDF files without any extra software. Microsoft added this to Windows 10, and Apple added it to iOS 9.

PDF is a standard, portable document format that works across all devices. It’s ideal for archiving and sharing web pages and other documents. It’s just more compatible than other types of documents, like Microsoft’s XPS document format.

Windows 10

Windows 10 finally adds a built-in PDF printer to Windows. In any application — from Windows desktop apps to those new Windows Store apps — just select the “Print” option in the menu. You’ll see “Microsoft Print to PDF” appear in the list of installed printers. Select that printer and click the “Print” button. You’ll then be asked to provide a name and location for your new PDF file.

Windows 7, 8, and 8.1

On previous versions of Windows, this can be a bit more of a headache. It’s not integrated into the operating system, so you may have to install a third-party PDF printer application. Unfortunately, many of these are packed with installer crapware.

Some applications do have integrated PDF-printing support, however. For example, in Chrome you can select the “Print” option and select “Save to PDF” to print to PDF. LibreOffice can also export documents to PDF. Check the application you’re using to see if it can do this without any additional software.

Mac OS X

This is integrated into Mac OS X, too. But, if you’re familiar with the way it works on Windows and other operating systems, you might miss it.

To print to PDF, select the “Print” option in any application. Ignore the list of printers at the top of the print dialog that appears. Instead, click the “PDF” menu at the bottom of the dialog and select “Save as PDF”. Mac OS X will allow you to save the document to a PDF file instead of printing it to an actual printer, and will prompt you for a file name and location.

iPhone and iPad (iOS)

With iOS 9, Apple built this feature into every iPhone and iPad. To print a web page or other document to a PDF file, first open it in an application. Tap the “Share” button — it looks like a square with an up arrow coming out of it. Scroll through the list of icons in the top row and tap the “Save PDF to iBooks” option.

You can now open iBooks to access that PDF file. From iBooks, you can email the PDF file or share it to somewhere else. These PDF files can also be synced with iTunes so you can get them on your computer in the unlikely event that you regularly sync your iPhone or iPad with iTunes. They’ll be in your iTunes Book Library after they sync.

Android

This is part of Android too. It’s integrated as part of Android’s built-in support for printers — both physical printers and PDF printers.

In an Android app that supports printing — Chrome, for example — open the menu and tap the “Print” option. Tap the “Save to” menu and select “Save as PDF” to save a PDF file to your Android phone or tablet’s local storage, or tap “Save to Google Drive” to save a PDF file directly to your Google Drive account.

If you’re using an app that doesn’t have built-in printing support, you can always use Android’s Share menu. Install an app that can convert documents to PDF and you can then tap Share anywhere in Android and select that app to make a PDF.

Chrome OS

Chrome can always print files directly to PDF, and it works just the same on a Chromebook. Just click the menu button in Chrome and select Print. You’ll see a preview of the current web page. Click the “Change” button under “Destination” and select “Print to PDF” under “Local Destinations”. Select any options you want to change here and then click “Save” to save the file to PDF. You’ll be asked for a file name and location.


Other operating systems may offer this, too. It should be included by default on most desktop Linux systems, but different desktops will have different interfaces. Look in the “print” dialog and see if you can find an option for printing to PDF.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 12/4/15
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