How to Save or Convert Word Doc to PDF on Mac

Aug 28, 2016 - 23 Comments

Save or Convert Word DOC to PDF on Mac

There may come a time when you need to save or convert a Microsoft Word Doc or DOCX file to PDF format from a Mac. The advantages to saving a Word DOC as PDF are notable in that the PDF file becomes universally readable by any operating system with a PDF reader, even without the Microsoft Office suite, and preserved in it’s original formatting.

There are several different methods of saving a Word doc as a PDF, and for converting an existing Word DOC/DOCX file to PDF, both of which use the Microsoft Office Word app on the Mac to get the job done. Let’s review how to perform this action.

These tricks apply to all modern versions of Word for Mac, including Microsoft Office 2016 and 2011.

How to Save a Word Doc as PDF in Word for Mac

This will save any Word doc as a PDF:

  1. Open the Word DOC to you want to save as a PDF into Word
  2. Pull down the “File” menu and choose “Save As” (or click the little disk icon in the title bar)
  3. Look for ‘File Format’ and choose “PDF”
  4. Give the document an obvious name (and be sure to include the .pdf file extension) and then choose “Save”

This method is quick and easy and will save a new Word doc as a PDF, and it can also exchange any existing Word doc into a PDF file by using the Save As feature.

You can also quickly share a Word DOC as a PDF by going to the “Share” menu and choosing to “Send PDF”, which will allow you to email the Word DOC as a PDF file.

The freshly saved PDF from the DOC origin is now ready to use in any PDF friendly environment, whether it’s sending it along and preserving the original formatting or posting it online, or whatever else. Another significant bonus to saving or converting Word DOC files to PDF is that you can sign documents in Preview using a Mac Trackpad or apply a digital signature to the PDF with Preview, allowing yourself or a recipient to sign a Word document. This is really helpful for letters and contracts, or any of the other scenarios where you’d like to apply a digital signature to a Word DOC file.

How to Convert Word DOC to PDF in Office for Mac

Another option is to convert an existing Word DOC to PDF using the Export feature:

  1. Have the Word doc you want to convert to PDF open in Word for Mac
  2. Go to the ‘File’ menu and choose “Export”
  3. Select “PDF” in the file format selection
  4. Choose to Export the Word doc as a PDF

Using Export to convert Doc to PDF gives you a few more PDF saving options but is otherwise not too different from using the “Save As” ability. They both work in most situations, but Export is the preferred choice for converting Office files to PDF. This trick actually works in just about every Office app on the Mac too, including Powerpoint, and not just Word.

How Do I Convert Word to PDF Without Office?

If you don’t have a Mac with Microsoft Office handy but you need to convert a DOC or DOCX file into a PDF format, you’ll have to use a roundabout method to accomplish the task instead. This isn’t too difficult however, it’s just a matter of combining two tips:

You can use the PDF saving trick to with just about any document on the Mac, which is part of what makes it such a powerful feature. If you find yourself doing this often, you’d likely want to setup the Save as PDF keyboard shortcut for the Mac, which makes quick work of this task.

Can I Go the Other Direction? PDF to Word?

Yes you can also go the other direction if necessary, the best way to convert a PDF to DOC file is with Google Docs as covered here.



Related articles:

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


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  1. Ellen says:

    I found out the printer secret.. it works. Since I had to update to Ventura, MS word ( older version) has no way to save document as pdf. Makes no sense why that would happen except Microsoft would like me to spend a lot of MULA on a new ms office which I don’t want to do especially since I don’t use is as much anymore. There are other alternatives if I need to stop using ms word.

  2. Mike says:

    So I did a mail merge and have 3 pages in my word doc, worked great. I usually do 5-20. Now I need to save them as individual pdf’s.
    I am running 2016 on a macbook pro is there a vba to do this?
    My path is Macintosh HD:Users:spudn56:Desktop:testpdfsplit
    I am not good with code.

  3. Sean says:

    How do I convert the Clinical Notes in My Chart to PDF format so that I can share for a second opinion.

    • Paul says:

      If the MyChart document is a Word file, use the instructions in this article above to save that Word document as a PDF file.

      However, if the clinical notes in MyChart are on the web and accessible through a website, an easy way to save those as PDF Files would be to use the “Print to PDF” feature on the Mac discussed here:

      Basically you’d open the webpage, then use the “Print to PDF” capability to save the webpage as a PDF file rather than print it out. The result will be the webpage is saved as the PDF format.

      Good luck!

  4. Dayana Pears says:

    Awesomely explained. I am a dummy on a Mac since forever I have been using Windows, and I easily do it there but I couldn’t find anywhere how to do the same on Mac, and this really helps! Thank you!

  5. Krisay says:

    I have tried all of the above and none are working? No matter what I do once it’s a PDF the links no longer work :( I’m at my wits end! I have a brand new mac, running word 2011 please someone help

  6. Richard Hambridge says:

    Can’t you just select -P (Print) and then the Save to PDF option?

    Or is this facility only available on my ageing Mac G4 running OSX 10.2.8 (Jaguar)?

    • Bernard says:

      Depending on the application, and how the document is authored, exporting to pdf instead of using the print to pdf option gives better results and sometimes even more exporting options such as outputting structure tags, bookmarks…

      Take a look at the fourth post down in the link below for more on this:

    • noway says:

      Yes you can select print, pdf (lower left of print window) save as pdf for anything. This is common OSX knowledge, and the simplest way to convert anything to PDF on a Mac, has been for decades.

      No other steps needed.

  7. Pippo says:

    Who cannot open a Word document in 2016?

  8. Bernard says:

    If you are U.S. government employee or contractor, your pdfs must be 508 compliant for accessibility. In order for that requirement to be met, the pdf must contain properly structures tags which the Windows version of Word does add, but not the Mac version. The only Mac application I have found that outputs tags is the free Office-like Libre Office suite. You’ll need to open the .doc or .docx file and export to pdf and make sure to check the output tags for accessibility box. You can then open that in Adobe Acrobat Pro and remediate the tags.

  9. Peter says:

    For Gillian: In Word [2011 for Mac] select the whole link, press command K, and make sure the ‘link to’ URL is correct.
    I’ve never had a problem creating PDFs when the ‘link to’ is correct; they always work and go to the correct website or email address.

    I never use the Save As command [too many keystrokes]. I press command P twice:

  10. RWexelblat says:

    …or just get the free Open Office package and avoid all the above aggro….

  11. Gillian says:

    There’s a big issue that I have been told is common knowledge but there’s currently no fix. When you convert from Word to PDF, the links no longer work. They look like links, but they don’t go anywhere when you click on them. This is only on a Mac.

    My fix is to create the file in Word, since I know it better, then open the file in Pages, and export to a PDF through Pages. The links then work just fine.

    If anyone has a fix for Microsoft Word to PDF where the links are live, I would love to hear about it. I’m currently using Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac, which includes Word:Mac 2011. This problem was also present in an earlier version as well.

  12. Lionel says:

    It’s also easy in Pages> File> Export to> PDF

  13. Hamza Sheikh says:

    I guess everyone knew about it? No?

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