Creating a PDF file on a Mac is really easy, and you can quickly and easily convert virtually any document to PDF or create one from scratch.

For most document sharing, PDF is simply the way to go. Whether or not it is ideal or perfect, it’s clear that PDF has gained nearly universal appeal and as such, it’s one of the best ways to reliably share your documents with others. At this point, any operating system you use should be able to open PDFs.

How to Create a PDF from an Existing Document

Let’s say that you have a complete document that you want to share with someone as a PDF file. That’s easy: we just need to convert it, which OS X makes very easy.

First, open the document in its native app. If you’re working on a Word document, then you’ll do this from Word. Want to PDF-ify a webpage? Then open it up in Safari, and so on.

Creating the PDF is accomplished via the print dialog, which can be accessed via the “File” menu or using the keyboard shortcut Command+P.

Now, note the “PDF” controls in the lower-left corner of the Print dialog.

You will need to click on this menu to access further options.

There are a few choices you can explore here, the most obvious being “Save as PDF”. But there are also others to directly create and mail via the Mail app, or send it via Messages.

Let’s assume, however, that you just want to save your document as a PDF. That’s pretty simple. Just select “Save as PDF”, give it a name (at the very least), as well as other optional pieces of information such as a subject and any keywords you want to add to make locating the PDF easier later on.

The security options are also an important item to note. Using them, you can require a password to open the document, and add further layers of security, including requiring a password to copy text, images, and other content, as well as to print it. You can choose one, the other, or both.

How to Create a PDF from Images and Documents in Preview

We covered how to convert images to PDF, but say you want to combine a number of documents and/or images into one PDF. To do that, you’ll use Preview.

Let’s go ahead and take a text file and convert it from the Print dialog, as shown above. Only this time, we’ll choose “Open PDF in Preview”.

It’s important to understand that you can’t edit the newly converted document in Preview–you can only combine existing files. So, you need to make sure you’ve written just how you want it before opening it in Preview. Now, you can go ahead and add other documents or images as new pages.

Just drag the next file–in this case, we’ll use an image as page 2–into Preview’s sidebar. The image won’t be added to the existing page, but placed between them.

If you’re not content with how your images are arranged, you can drag them around to fit your needs.

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So, once you’ve got it all sorted and arranged to your liking, it’s time to save your newly designed PDF, which you can simply do by pressing Command+S on your keyboard, or clicking File > Save in the menu bar.

Of course, the best way to share a fully-formed document is to simply print it as PDF, but if you’re simply looking to include inline instructions for images or perhaps provide narration for someone to create a slideshow, then combining text and images into one PDF is a great no-nonsense way to do it. This ensures you don’t run into any annoying compatibility issues.

Profile Photo for Matt Klein Matt Klein
Matt Klein has nearly two decades of technical writing experience. He's covered Windows, Android, macOS, Microsoft Office, and everything in between. He's even written a book, The How-To Geek Guide to Windows 8.
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