macOS: How to print to PDF via keyboard shortcut from any application

How to Print to PDF On a Mac

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macOS offers multiple options to print to PDF. In fact, you can save almost every file as PDF, regardless of if the application supports saving to PDF or not. In this article, I will show you how to quickly print to PDF using a keyboard shortcut and automatically save the PDF in a particular folder. My special folder is called “Scans, ” and I save most PDFs to it for further processing via an app called Hazel.

Export as PDF

Some applications for macOS natively support exporting or saving data as PDF. iA Writer, which I use for drafting new blog articles, is such an example. If I wanted to save the draft of this article as a PDF, I would go to File –> Export and choose PDF as the file format.

Safari and Mail are examples of native macOS apps that support exporting emails or web pages as PDFs via the “Export to PDF…” Menu.

But not all apps have that ability. Plus, it takes up to several extra clicks to navigate to my “Scans” folder to save the file.

macOS: How to print to PDF via keyboard shortcut from any application
Export to PDF in iA Writer

Print to PDF

macOS has supported printing any file to PDF for several years. So don’t worry if the application of your choice doesn’t support the PDF format.

To print any file as PDF, just open the File –> Print dialog (or COMMAND + p), click on the drop-down on the lower left of the screen that says “PDF” and then select “Save as PDF…“. From there, you can select the folder you would like to save the PDF to. That feature is available in every application that supports the macOS print framework. The problem is, I still need to click a couple of more times to select my “Scans” folder.

Print to PDF and automatically select a folder

The good news is that Apple allows you to change the list you have seen in the Print –> PDF dialog. As you may have noticed, there is an “Edit Menu…” entry at the bottom of that list.

If you click it, another dialog opens that allows you to add (+ sign) a target folder to that list. In my example, I have added my “Scans” folder. As a result, I can now see my “Scans” folder in the drop-down list of the Print –> PDF dialog.

Going forward, if I want to print anything to PDF and save it to my “Scans” folder, I do the following:

  • Select File –> Print or better yet, COMMAND + p
  • Click on the PDF drop-down and select “Scans.”

Without any further interaction, macOS saves the selected file as PDF and stores it in the “Scans” folder. That’s already a huge timesaver, but why stop there?