Set a Keyboard Shortcut for “Save as PDF” in Mac OS

Aug 19, 2014 - 64 Comments

Save as PDF Keyboard Shortcut in Mac OS X

Saving a file or document as a PDF is easily done from almost anywhere in Mac OS 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, and we’ll show you how to set the keystroke for macOS Ventura, macOS Monterey, macOS Big Sur, Mojave, High Sierra, MacOS Sierra, Mac OS X El Capitan, and before. It’s going to look and sound like a conflict with the normal Mac OS X print shortcut of Command+P, but it does not.

How to Make a “Save as PDF” Keyboard Shortcut for macOS Ventura

MacOS Ventura has once again renamed the keyboard shortcut entry for saving as PDF, so you’ll need to add the shortcut again. Here’s how to do this:

  1. Go to the  Apple menu and choose “System Settings”, then select Keyboard
  2. Click “Keyboard Shortcuts” button
  3. Select ‘App Shortcuts’ from the left side menu, then click the [+] plus button to add a new shortcut
  4. In “Menu Title”, type in “Save as PDF…” exactly (yes including the three periods at the end)
  5. Click into “Keyboard Shortcut” and now hit Command + P
  6. Now choose “Add”
  7. Close out of System Settings
  8. To test out the new PDF saving keyboard shortcut, hit Command+P+P (hold down Command while hitting the P key twice in a row quickly)

There you go, now you’re printing as PDF with a keyboard shortcut within macOS Ventura.

How to Make a “Save as PDF” Keyboard Shortcut for macOS Monterey, Big Sur, Mojave, High Sierra

In modern macOS versions, you can use the following steps to create a “Save as PDF” keystroke in macOS. Scroll down a bit further to see the guides for making the same keystroke on older MacOS versions.

  1. Go to the  Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”, then go to the “Keyboard” control panel
  2. Choose the “Shortcuts” tab
  3. Select ‘App Shortcuts’ from the left side menu, then click the [+] plus button to add a new shortcut
  4. Add a new shortcut for Saving as PDF in Mac OS X

  5. In “Menu Title”, type in “Save as PDF” exactly
  6. Click into “Keyboard Shortcut” and now hit Command + P
  7. Now choose “Add”
  8. Save as PDF keyboard shortcut in macOS Monterey

  9. Close out of System Preferences, you’re ready to test the new PDF saving keystroke which is going to be Command+P+P (hold down Command while hitting the P key twice)

Now you’re ready to Save as PDF where ever you are, easy peasy.

For some apps you won’t need to hit P twice, like Chrome which will bring up the print option with Save as PDF as an option.

And yes hitting P twice sounds like it could be a conflict, but as MacSparky says, “trust me”, because it works.

Make a “Save as PDF” Keyboard Shortcut in Mac OS X

In macOS Sierra, OS X El Capitan, and earlier versions of Mac OS, you can use the following trick to make a Save as PDF keystroke on the Mac:

  1. Head to the  Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”, then go to the “Keyboard” control panel
  2. Choose the “Shortcuts” tab
  3. Select ‘App Shortcuts’ from the left side menu, then click the [+] plus button to add a new shortcut
  4. Add a new shortcut for Saving as PDF in Mac OS X

  5. In “Menu Title”, type in “Save as PDF…” exactly (yes, with three periods on the end)
  6. Click into “Keyboard Shortcut” and now hit Command+P (yes, that’s the standard printer shortcut, wait and see how this works)
  7. Now choose “Add”
  8. Save as PDF keyboard shortcut in Mac OS X

  9. 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

Saving as PDF from a keystroke in Mac OS X

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:

reviewing an Exported PDF file from a keystroke in Mac OS X

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 macOS Monterey, macOS Big Sur, macOS Mojave, macOS High Sierra, MacOS Sierra, OS X El Capitan, Yosemite and Mavericks, and the post on MacSparky demonstrates this trick working in Mac OS X Snow Leopard, which suggests this should work in just about every version of Mac OS X out there.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Major Havoc says:

    This is an old article I see. To make this work in MacOS Monterey, leave off the three dots in the name.

  2. Roland says:

    With OS Ventura I had to use “Save as PDF…”

  3. shape says:

    Works fine on Catalina too. Thank you! Huge timesaver for web browsers.

  4. kevin says:

    thanks, great hack!

  5. Roger C. Rocha says:


  6. tryingthisoncemore says:

    error in the figure for High Sierra: you need to enter

    Save as PDF

    as it says in the text:
    4. In “Menu Title”, type in “Save as PDF” exactly

    but not

    Save as PDF…
    as the figure shows. the figure is wrong.

    works for Mojave

  7. Jenn says:

    This is brilliant – thank you! On Mojave, I have to push command + P once, wait one second for the window to pop up, and then hit P again (still holding command down). I use this feature a TON and this shortcut is golden. Thank you!

  8. KJG says:

    I’ll add my thanks to the list. One glitch I encountered (10.13.6) was that it deleted the cmd-P shortcut to print from Safari. I worked around this by assigning cmd-shift-P to “Save as PDF” and cmd-P back to “Print…”

  9. Robert Ruggles says:

    I know this is older, but doesn’t work anymore with the advent of macOS 10.13.4 (17E202).

    • Pablo says:

      Follow the instructions here for enabling a “Save as PDF” keyboard shortcut in macOS Mojave and macOS High Sierra, just remove the … elipsis from “Save as PDF” and it works fine in all versions of High Sierra (10.13) and Mojave (10.14)

  10. Paul says:

    For those having issues (I was too, and tried every combination of the above from all the comments), this is what worked for me:

    You may have to use the “->” to show exactly what you’re doing, as well as use the “File” menu name.

    For example, let’s say I’m in KEYNOTE, and I want to EXPORT my keynote as a IMAGE

    In Keynote I go to: File > Export To > Images…
    So the shortcut would be: File->Export To->Images…

    A few things to keep in mind:
    • Notice there are no spaces ^ between each string (except for “Export To”, but that’s because that’s the actual name of the menu)
    • You’re supposed to use -> not >
    • Type it exactly as you see (with caps and all), unlike this websites guide. If it says “Export To”, put “Export To”, if it says “Export As”, put “Export As”, etc etc.
    • Make sure you include the “…” at the end, again you want to make sure everything is exact.
    • You can test it with each window side by side as you make changes (example: Left side window = Keynote (or whatever program you’re using) and Right side window = Shortcuts tab in System Preferences). You don’t need to save, close the program, restart, etc etc… just enter the command, test right after.

    To save yourself trouble, I would recommend testing it by doing something easy, then slowly work you’re way to what you’re trying to ultimately do. Example:

    1. Test something in the main file menu like NEW PAGE/FILE in the program your using (that way it’s easier to eliminate what might be wrong if it doesn’t work)
    2. Use a very basic command like CMD J (that way you’re eliminating using a command already taken/conflicting elsewhere
    3. You can ultimate see if it works by simply looking at the FILE MENU and you’ll see your “shortcut” there (like if you go to FILE > NEW [your shortcut]

    And again, here’s an example of what worked for me:

    1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > click +
    2. Application: Keynote (or whatever program you’re using
    3. Menu Title: File->Export To->Images…
    4. Keyboard Shortcut: CMD E

    So when I press CMD E, Keynote automatically goes to the EXPORT SECTION for me (where I can select what type of image, number of pages, etc)

  11. Domenik says:


    I’ve always loved this short cut with my previous apple IOS. Just upgraded to High Sierra 10.13.4 and it doesn’t work.

    They have omitted the three dots… and so have I (before noticing the comments above!) and now it works.

    Perhaps you could change the info at the end where it does say it is tested for High Sierra and add a new note on this get around.

  12. Rich says:

    I don’t know about Eric’s computer, but on mine running 10.13 High Sierra I had to name the shortcut “Save as PDF”. You can check what the name should be on your own computer by just copying whatever the menu item says exactly. Hope that helps…

  13. Simon says:

    Eric you are star :)

  14. Jason says:

    Thanks Eric!

  15. Eric says:

    FYI. To get this to work with 10.13 High Sierra, you have to name the shortcut “Save to PDF”. The three dots are no longer needed and won’t work with them added to the name.

  16. John says:

    Can’t make it work in Sierra 10.12.6; I only get the standard print dialogue.

    • John says:

      Hmmm, no matter how many times I MISSPELL the word “savd” or “sved” it won’t work 🙄 “save”;
      it DOES work in Sierra… spell it right, unlike my first three attempts (only three?)

  17. threedog says:

    Jeez Louise! Floundered around with this off and on since getting my new MacBook Pro. Duh!

    If any of you people out there are in just too much of a hurry, and/or think you know it all, here’s how you get it to work:


    Yes, those three ‘dot dot dots’ typed into the shortcut cause it to work. And I could have figured that out myself in any event if I just compared what’s inside my MacBook Pro running Yosemite.

  18. threedog says:

    I see people are still posting on this article. I found it back in 2014 or whenever it was that I went to Yosemite. It worked like a charm and I use it constantly.

    Now I have a second MacBook Pro running Sierra, and for the life of me I cannot get it to work. I’ve read the posts above saying it does work but it’s just not on this new machine.

    I do have Acrobat Pro 2017 installed, could that possibly be interfering with the action? Do you folks saying you get it to work in Sierra have any pro version of Acrobat installed on your machines?

    Help! I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get this to work and I don’t want it to have been wasted – I really need this shortcut!

  19. Nate says:

    I love you.

  20. Thankful says:

    Thank you! This shortcut is such a time saver. I rarely leave comments, but needed to here as this tip* is really helpful and works great! (even when I press p twice real quick!) Thanks again!

    FYI for interested readers: Running OS X El Captain Version 10.11.6.

  21. Thankful says:

    Thank you! This shortcut is such a time saver. I rarely leave comments, but needed to here as this top is really helpful and works great! (even when I press p twice real quick!) Thanks again!

    FYI for interested readers: Running OS X El Captain Version 10.11.6.

  22. kiko vargas says:

    Fantastic suggestions , I was enlightened by the details . Does someone know where my business could possibly obtain a sample TSP-60 example to type on ?

  23. Frankee says:

    Seems it´s not working on El Capitan?

    • tbe says:

      Works any Mac OS, whether Sierra, El Capitan, Mavericks, does not matter.

      • Tom says:

        Nope. Used this several times a week, just got new machine with El Capitan and it does not work — directs to Print window.

        • Jason Jr says:

          Wrong, PDF saving works great. I do this every day and print to PDF directly with a keystroke every single day with Mac El Capitan and MacOS Sierra. You are wrong Tom, you didn’t do it right. You are not doing it correctly.

        • Tom says:

          (Blushes) Actually, it does work. You just have to go through all the steps again to set it up the first time.

  24. John the MacDev says:

    I accidentally stumbled on this and I have to say this great. I already had a shortcut setup. I would use the normal COMMAND+P shortcut. Then I set the “Save as PDF…” to CONTROL+P. However I like the idea of maximizing just one keyboard shortcut pair for it. Less to remember. I will give it a try your way.

  25. Don says:

    I set this up and then did the same thing for Print to Evernote, which I had added to the Print dialogue. Now Command-P-E will send the file directly to Evernote. This is going to be a great time saver!

  26. Claudio says:

    Thank you vero much!

  27. Mark Graham says:

    There seems to be a problem when doing this with OS X Yosemite to save things in folders maintained remotely on our server under “Finder.” After you do the shortcut once (which is great), then the next time you lose the control panel on the left for everything that is not native to the Mac. So you can only save in Desktop, etc.

    The only way to get to our normal top level and deeper levels of folders, etc. under Finder (where we save everything) back is to “Relaunch,” which is more cumbersome than the previous “save a pdf” thing we used to have to do through the Print dialog window.

    Any ideas?

    M Graham, Esq.

  28. David D. says:

    Great tip — thanks! Worked for me on OS 10.6.8. (Yeah, you can have Snow Leopard when you pry it from my cold, dead hands… or replace it with something better.)

  29. Joe says:

    As a german mac user i first had problems activating the shown macro:
    Here is what you need to do, when running Max OS X on a different language:
    1) Simply hit CMD-P first and press down the Dialog box, remember name and exact spelling.
    2) Replace this guides “Save as PDF …” with your language dialogue e.g. “Als PDF sichern …”, don’t forget space before the three dots. Should work with any localization. Enjoy!

  30. It does not work for me in 10.9.4
    But anyway, the print PDF ain’t that hard

  31. Rich says:

    Thanks. I didn’t know you could assign a custom keyboard shortcut to a nested menu item.

    The nice thing is that you can take your time hitting the second ⌘P, since it’s activating the “PDF” submenu within the print dialog, and it works as long as that print dialog is open. This is nice if you’re using Safari, since you can still review the small print preview image, which also lets you review the number of pages in your pdf. I wish Firefox did this without having to “Open PDF in Preview”.

  32. jea says:

    Assigning the same keyboard shortcut to ‘Save as PDF…’ as to ‘Print…’ (⌘P) may have side-effects in applications where ‘Save as PDF…’ is also a menu item. This is the case with Nisus Writer Pro, where ‘Save as PDF…’ can be found in the File menu alongside with ‘Print…’. As a system-wide keyboard shortcut for ‘Save as PDF…’ I chose ^⌘P to avoid the conflict.

  33. MC says:

    I was disappointed this didn’t work for me, since I save to pdfs all the time. I went back over the instructions to be certain I did it correctly, and changed my “Save as pdf” to “Save as PDF…” and it works! Can’t for the life of my understand why you have to name it exactly that.

  34. BT says:


    This will save me a lot of time.

    Also, if I’m already in the print dialog, pressing ‘Command+P’ will bring you to the PDF dialog.

    Very helpful!

  35. Stephan says:

    Hi, seems to work only with OS X and English as system language. Tested in german OS X, does not work..

  36. Ilan says:

    Did as instructed and the second ‘P’ simply sends the file to the printer.

    • diane says:

      @Ilan — It’s a timing thing. With my MacBook Air I need to pause about a half-second between the first ‘P’ and the second ‘P.’ If you’re too quick you’ll get another print dialog, as you’ve found out.

      Experiment a little to see what works best for your setup.

  37. Thir says:

    It doesn’t work on Mac Os 10.7.5

  38. Stephen C says:

    Thanks for the tip. Really helpful.

  39. Ian M says:

    Brilliant! Now how can I perform this trick in iOS?

  40. Grey says:

    Note that, for whatever reason, Chrome will usurp this keyboard shortcut and invoke its own print dialog. Not that I give a hoot, as Chrome’s only value, to me, is Flash playback without having to install the POS Flash plugin.

    • James says:

      glad to know I’m not the only person who keeps chrome installed just for this reason.

    • Grey says:

      I did not say ‘hoot’. Nobody says ‘hoot’. I said ‘sheet’. You’re now censoring the word ‘sheet’? Even the likes of Rupert Murdoch doesn’t stop Eric Cartman from saying ‘sheet’…which he does, in almost every episode, and in prime time. Are you guys Mormons over there, or what’s your problem?

      • Paul says:

        Hi Grey,

        Correct, curse words are banned by automatic strict antispam filters, which are necessary, so any comment that has one is not allowed to post. There’s a very colorful list of words that aren’t allowed by the filters, but if we see a legitimate comment that uses any of the words, they have to be replaced so that the comment will pass the filter and appear on the site. Hope that makes sense, sorry about the confusion!

    • Merula says:

      Press ⌘⎇P, followed by ⌘P.

  41. Gabriel Sanchez says:

    Great tip thanks, I use the printing PDF service frequently for generating reports this will definitely speed things up.

    On another note, does anyone else think OS X Yosemite with High Contrast enabled as shown in these screenshots basically looks like Mac OS System 7? What a weird looking interface, Yosemite is going to be a tough pitch for Apple. I bet Mavericks will be their Windows 7, and Yosemite will be their Windows 8.

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