Set a Keyboard Shortcut for “Save as PDF” in Mac OS X
Saving a file or document as a PDF is easily done from almost anywhere in Mac OS X by using the print to PDF feature, which is part of the Mac Printer service, but to trigger it you have to go to the Print menu and then specifically select to ‘print’ the file as a PDF document. But what if you want a faster method of quickly saving something as a PDF, like a keyboard shortcut? That’s what we’re going to show you how to do with a really nifty keystroke trick.
This walkthrough is going to demonstrate enabling a ‘Save as PDF’ keyboard function as a secondary feature of the traditional printing keyboard shortcut. It’s going to look and sound like a conflict with the normal Mac OS X print shortcut of Command+P, but as the originator of this old trick at MacSparky says, “trust me”, because it works.
Make a “Save as PDF” Keyboard Shortcut in Mac OS X
- Head to the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”, then go to the “Keyboard” control panel
- Choose the “Shortcuts” tab
- Select ‘App Shortcuts’ from the left side menu, then click the [+] plus button to add a new shortcut
- In “Menu Title”, type in “Save as PDF…” exactly (yes, with three periods on the end)
- Click into “Keyboard Shortcut” and now hit Command+P (yes, that’s the standard printer shortcut, wait and see how this works)
- Now choose “Add”
- Close out of System Preferences, you’re ready to test the new PDF saving keystroke which is going to be Command+P+P (yes, holding down command and hitting P twice)
Open just about any file or webpage to test out your new keyboard shortcut to save the file as a PDF. Just open the document and hit Command+P+P to jump past the standard print dialog box and immediately to the “Save As PDF” portion of the Print dialog.
Here’s an example of using this keyboard shortcut from Safari to save everyones favorite OSXDaily.com:
Now just save the PDF as usual, filling in the title, author, and subject if desired, or choosing to password lock the PDF by going through the Security Options. The saved file is your average PDF file, no different than any other generated from the Mac printer tool, you can quickly check it within Preview or Quick Look:
Once you have this keyboard shortcut setup, you can even activate by selecting a file on the desktop and using the Print from Desktop trick, just remember to hit the P key twice.
This has been tested and confirmed to work in OS X Yosemite and Mavericks, and the post on MacSparky demonstrates this trick working in Snow Leopard, which suggests this should work in just about every version of Mac OS X out there.