macOS Hero Image

Sometimes you need to print a document, but you don’t have a printer available—or you’d like to save it for your records in a stable format that will never change. In this case, you can “print” to a PDF file. Luckily, macOS makes it easy to do this from almost any app.

Apple’s Macintosh operating system (macOS) has included system-level support for PDF files for 20 years now since the original Mac OS X Public Beta. The PDF printer feature is available from almost any application that allows printing, such as Safari, Chrome, Pages, or Microsoft Word. Here’s how to do it.

Open the document you’d like to print to a PDF file. In the menu bar at the top of the screen, select File > Print.

A printing dialog will open up. Ignore the Print button. Near the bottom of the Print window, you will see a small drop-down menu labeled “PDF.” Click on it.

In the PDF drop-down menu, select “Save as PDF.”

The Save dialog will open up. Type the file name you’d like and choose the location (such as Documents or Desktop), then click “Save.”

macOS Save Dialog

The printed document will then be saved as a PDF file in the location you chose. If you double-click on the PDF file you just created, you should see the document the way it would appear if you printed it on paper.

PDF printing results in macOS

From there you can copy it anywhere you like, back it up, or perhaps save it for later reference. It’s up to you.

If you’re also a Windows user, printing to PDF on Windows 10 is easy.

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
Read Full Bio »