How to print to PDF in iOS without a third-party app

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Last Updated: Oct 06, 2020

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As part of my paperless workflow, I save a lot of documents in PDF format. Some applications don’t support “save to PDF,” but fortunately, macOS has a “print to PDF” feature that works system-wide and in any application. In this article, I will show you how to print to PDF in iOS 9 or newer using the Share sheet.

Before Apple added the print to PDF feature to iOS, I had to use third-party apps. Some of those apps worked well, but they all had issues with the native Mail app due to lack of direct integration.

Print to PDF in Mail.app

Starting with iOS 9, Apple added print to PDF functionality to the Mail app. In iOS 10, Apple made the print to PDF feature available to other areas that support printing. Unfortunately, it is not very intuitive to use. Here is how it works the Mail app:

  1. Click on the Reply/Forward icon
  2. Select Print
  3. Zoom into the document using the two-finger pinch gesture (if you have a 3D Touch enabled device, you can hard press to peek and pop)
  4. Click on the Share icon
  5. Save or share the email as a PDF via any of the available services

Using the above steps, I save receipts I receive via email to Dropbox as PDFs when I am traveling.

Print to PDF in other apps

Outside of the Mail, the print to PDF feature works similarly. Instead of using the Reply/Forward icon, you can use the Share icon directly and select print. Then follow the rest of the steps.

How to print to PDF in iOS

Printing to PDF in iOS is not very intuitive, but once you know how it is done, it becomes a useful feature. I use it a lot while I travel.

3 thoughts on “How to print to PDF in iOS without a third-party app”

  1. Hi Michael, I just came across your blog and you’ve got some great info that’s actually useful! Question for you… so I use this feature ALL the time — I’m constantly “printing to PDF” emails, receipts, photos, etc. The problem I have, is sometimes I’ll try to do print to PDF and it will get all whacky, where the solution on a Mac would be to scale it down to fit. Now of course there seems to be no way to scale things down when trying to print, that is…unless you have figured out a way! It doesn’t happen all the time, but definitely 1 out of 5 items I can’t print to PDF from my iPhone because it doesn’t come out right. So then I have to transfer the process to my Mac and scale the thing down before saving it. Such a hassle. If you have any ideas that would be so helpful. Thank you!!!

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