How to Print to PDF on iPhone with 3D Touch

Mar 13, 2017 - 38 Comments


You can save nearly anything as a PDF from iPhone, all it takes is using a little known 3D Touch trick available only in Sharing action menus. Essentially this trick allows you to perform the iOS equivalent of Print to PDF like you would see on desktops like a Mac or Windows PC, except it’s on the mobile iOS world and available to iPhone users with 3D Touch devices.

You can perform the Print to PDF trick in iOS from just about any app, as long as it has the Sharing button and could theoretically print from it. This includes Safari, Pages, Notes, and other apps you’d expect to have this feature in. For demonstration purposes here, we’ll walk through this with Safari where we will use the print to PDF trick on a web page.

How to Print to PDF on iPhone with 3D Touch

This trick works the same to save just about anything as a PDF by using the print function within iOS, here’s how it works:

  1. Open Safari (or another app you want to print to PDF from) and go to what you want to save as a PDF file
  2. Tap the Sharing action button, it looks like a square with an arrow flying out of it
  3. How to Print to PDF from iPhone

  4. Now tap on “Print”
  5. How to Print to PDF from iPhone

  6. Next, perform a 3D Touch firm press on the first page preview to access the secret print to PDF screen option, this will open into a new preview window
  7. How to Print to PDF from iPhone

  8. Again tap on the Sharing action button at this new Print to PDF screen
  9. How to Print to PDF from iPhone

  10. Choose to save or share the document as a PDF – you can print to PDF and send it through messages, email, AirDrop, copy it to your clipboard, save the printed PDF to iCloud Drive, add it to DropBox, import it into iBooks, or any of the other options available in the sharing and saving actions
  11. How to Print to PDF from iPhone

Your freshly printed PDF file will be available with whatever means you shared or saved the PDF. I typically choose to print the PDF and save it into iCloud Drive, but if you plan on sending it to another person through Messages or email to get a signature on the document or something similar, or send with AirDrop from the iPhone or iPad to a Mac, you can easily do that as well.

The ability to print to PDF is very popular and widely used, so it’s a bit of a mystery as to why iOS has this feature hidden behind a secret 3D Touch gesture within the Print function, rather than available as an obvious menu item within the Print menus like Print to PDF is on a Mac. As far as I can tell, there is absolutely nothing obvious to suggest this feature exists at all and it’s basically hidden, which is a little weird given how useful it is to save things like web pages or documents as PDF files. But now that you know it exists, you can print to PDF to your hearts delight, right from your iPhone. Perhaps a future version of iOS will make this great trick a bit more obvious, we’ll see.

To have this pdf printing action available to you, you will need a modern version of iOS on a device with a 3D Touch equipped display. Earlier versions do not support the print to PDF gesture, but if you do happen to have an old device with an ancient iOS release you can use a javascript bookmarklet trick instead for web pages only.

Know of any other handy PDF saving tricks in iOS? Let us know in the comments.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Gillian says:

    I realize this is a very old article, but I am SOOOOOO grateful!!!!!! I am sure there is some way to add a “save as PDF” option to the … options from the share box on my iPad, but I do not see how to do it. This is a great work-around. Thank you, thank you.

  2. Bruce Fuller says:

    Yup with iOS 14 in print preview the pinch works!!!! vs 3D tap

  3. Bruce Fuller says:

    7-16-2020 no longer works in iOS 14 Beta

    I’ve used this process for years to save things or attach PDFs to text messages.

    Now it offers the 3D Touch in print preview offers “Page Selection Options”

    I’ll be posting on iOS 14 beta feedback site


  4. B says:

    Just press it down and it will automatically take you to the Screen with the share button. I just did it running iOS 13

  5. Moe says:

    I wouldn’t have figured this in a thousand years.
    Thank you so much ❤️

  6. Shankar Vignesh c says:

    Thanks this is awesome information

  7. Zu says:

    No longer appears to work in iOS 13. The pinch-zoom step does not do anything.

  8. John says:

    Thanks so much for this article! One update you could make: you actually don’t need 3D Touch to do this. I have an iPhone 5s and I was able to make this work by doing a 2-finger zoom in the image, rather than a 3D press. Hope this helps someone else with an older model. Very useful feature!

    • John says:

      Thanks, John…YOUR suggestion worked! I guess there is no 3D Touch press, whatever…the article should have explained what that was instead of me wasting 15 minutes googling it, trying it, finding out it didn’t work. Who knew you had to find the solution in the comments?

  9. J says:

    Excellent!! Thanks so much.

  10. Rosa Aksentowicz Tofte says:

    Thanks for useful adwice , I need it so much to print something from
    Websites, but I didn’t know about it at all – that is a great way to do it.

    Have a wonderful day and Happy Valentines Day to you 💐
    Greetings from 🇦🇹

  11. Karl says:

    Pages about pages about pages about 3D touching burnout an idea where 3Dtouches explained… weak.

  12. Luis says:

    Excellent feature, I always use it. However, it’s worth pointing out that this feature can also be activated by pinching to zoom in on the first page preview instead of 3D touching. This is useful on devices lacking the 3D touch feature, such as iPads.

    • Vivian says:

      Thank you for commenting, Luis! That’s exactly what I needed to be able to use the feature with my iPad.

      • Luis says:

        You’re welcome Vivian. That’s exactly why I commented, I most often use the feature on the ipad too. And even when I do use it on the iphone, I tend to forget it has touch ID, so I often do the pinch and zooming there as well.

    • Dave Bartram says:

      Wow! I did not read the original instructions and was doing the 3D Touch on the print icon instead of the first page preview. I am also excited to learn about the pinch to zoom feature which I can use on my iPad. Thanks to Luis and Jan-Lucas for your comments, and Paul Horowitz for the original article!

  13. Howard Freeman says:

    I have an iPhone 6 but can print PDF to open in GoodReader or send pages to Kindle. Downloading to device when you have a signal means stuff can be read offline if you’re in the sticks without wifi or signal.

  14. Roy Whelden says:

    The ‘make a pdf’ trick works on non-3D touch devices as well. Simply go through steps 1-3 above with a file x and then pinch and expand x with the fingers. This CHANGES IT INTO A PDF! Then use the share button to do what you will with the pdf version of x. Print it, export it to iBook, Mail it, etcetera.

    • Luis says:

      Yeah, and with a couple of advantages over the ‘save pdf to ibooks’ option from the share sheet. The first is that the ‘save pdf to ibooks’ will, as stated, send the pdf file to ibooks only whereas from the print dialog, the pdf can be sent to any compatible app on the device. The second (which may be viewed by some as a disadvantage) is that converting a website to pdf from Safari though the print dialog will not add the website URL, time, date, and page numbers at the bottom of every page of the resulting pdf document, like ‘save pdf to ibooks’ will.

  15. Dave Bartram says:

    This trick did not work for me with my iPhone 6s Plus and iOS 10.2.1. Other 3D Touch actions work, but Print in the Sharing box did not. It would be neat if it did. I use Save to Dropbox for a similar result.

    • Luis says:

      make sure you’re following the procedure as outlined above and that 3D touch is enabled. Alternatively, you can replicate the 3D touch press by pinching to zoom in to the preview once you are in the print dialog. Pinch to zoom also works on devices that lack the 3D touch feature, such as ipads.

    • Luis says:

      Try pinching to zoom in instead of 3D touch pressing. You may still be able to enjoy the feature that way.

    • Jan-Lucas de Vos says:

      @Dave Bartram – I had the same problem on the same set up. I found that pushing a little harder made the option box appear. The first attempt at it just brought up another screen to print 1 or multiple pages.

  16. DCJ001 says:

    The PDF will be formatted in a better way if, between steps 1 & 2, you enable Safari Reader mode by pressing on the 3 lines at the left end of the URL.

    • Luigi says:

      Yeah, I usually do that when possible (not every website supports the safari reading mode). Also, in step 4 the 3D touch press may be replaced by pinching to zoom in on the first page preview for devices that don’t have 3D touch. This includes all iphone models prior to the 6s, ipads and ipod touches running, as stated above, a modern version of iOS.

    • Luis says:

      That’s true, I do that whenever possible. Not all websites allow safari reading mode.

    • Vivian says:

      Great tip! Thank you.

    • Dick Warner says:

      I haven’t yet tried it from the phone, but I frequently do it from my Macbook Pro. I find I get better results (higher resolution) when exporting to PDF from within my CAD program (Vectorworks) than I get using the print function. Is there a way to set the resolution of PDF generated in Print to PDF?

      • DCJ001 says:

        I believe that there is no way to set the resolution of PDF generated in Print to PDF. I am very comfortable with the default resolution.

  17. Luis says:

    Great feature, indeed, I use it all the time. However, the article does not mention that this feature is also available to users of non-3D touch devices such as ipads, ipod touch or iphone models prior to the 6s, as long as they are running a modern version of iOS. For those users, the 3D touch press from step 4 above can be replaced by a pinch to zoom in gesture as follows:

    4. Next, pinch open to zoom in on the first page preview to access the secret print to PDF screen option, this will open into a new preview window

    I believe this is important for two reasons: first, because this kind of feature might be extremely useful on an ipad, where people usually edit and share documents or websites more often than on an iphone. Personally, I print to pdf more often on my ipad than on my 3D-touch capable iphone 6s. Second, because even some of those of us who own a 3D-touch capable device, myself included, tend to forget that the feature is there. More than once, I have found myself instinctively accessing print to pdf by pinching to zoom instead of 3D touching on my iphone 6s. Not to mention that I almost never remember that I also have 3D shortcuts from the home screen icons of many apps.

  18. Luis says:

    I just love this trick. I believe it was just introduced with iOS 10. It’s worth noting, however that although printing to pdf does not work in older versions of iOS it does works on older non-3D touch devices such as iphone 6 or earlier, ipads and ipod touch as long as they are capable of running iOS 10 or later. On those devices, replace the 3D touch in step 4 above with a zoom in gesture (pinch open). This would be the alternate version of step 4 for non-3D touch devices, not included in the article:

    4. Next, pinch open to zoom in on the first page preview to access the secret print to PDF screen option, this will open into a new preview window

    • Sbordocj says:

      Thanks so much for this note!! I was going nuts trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. My phone has 3D touch but apparently not a recent enough iOS to use it for PDF. Without your comment I would still be pushing and pushing and pushing….LOL

Leave a Reply


Shop on and help support OSXDaily!

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates

Tips & Tricks


iPhone / iPad



Shop on Amazon to help support this site