How to Print Double-Sided on a Mac

Turn out a professional-looking report

Whether you plan to create a presentable booklet for work or simply want to economize on paper, double-sided printing is a neat way to produce hard copies of documents. Here's how you do it on a Mac when using an application or browsing online.

Information in this article applies to Macs running macOS Catalina (10.15) through OS X Lion (10.7).

This may be an obvious point, but if you want to print on the front and back of pages on your Mac, you need to have your Mac connected to a printer that's compatible with two-sided (duplex) printing.

How to Print Double-Sided on Mac When Using an App

Printing on the front and back of pages is easy on a Mac, particularly when using an app such as Microsoft Word or (or any other Microsoft Office app).

As an example, here's what you should do if you typed a Word doc on your Mac and want to print it double-sided:

  1. Click File in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

    Word document with File selected in menu bar
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the drop-down menu and click Print.

    The Word File menu showing Print highlighted
  3. Click Copies & Pages.

    Copies & Pages selected in the print screen.
  4. Scroll down and click Layout.

    Print screen with Layout selected
  5. Go to the Two-Sided submenu.

    The Print window with Two-Sided menu highlighted
  6. Click Long-Edge binding in the Two-Sided submenu.

    The Word Print window with Long-Edge Binding selected
  7. Click Print.

    The Print window with Print highlighted

It's worth commenting on the difference between long-edge and short-edge binding: long-edge binding prints double-sided sheets so that you turn the page over sideways (as with a book). The margins are adjusted to accommodate binding on the left side. By contrast, short-edge binding prints such that you flip the page over vertically (as with a notepad) and margins adjust for binding at the top.

How to Print Double-Sided From an App on a Mac

With some applications, the process for printing double-sided is simpler and involves fewer steps because you are presented with a "Two-Sided" option in the initial Print window. For example, here's what you do with an app such as Notes on the Mac.

  1. Open the Notes app and click File in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

  2. Scroll to the bottom of the drop-down menu and click Print.

    The Print command in Notes
  3. Click the Two-Sided check box next to the Copies box.

    The two-sided Print option
  4. Click Print.

How to Print Double-Sided on a Mac When Online

The duplex printing process is similar if you're online and want to print out several web pages, although one or two steps are a little different.

Here's what you do if you're browsing on Chrome, for example.

  1. Click File in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

    Mac menu bar showing File highlighted
  2. At the bottom of the drop-down menu, click Print.

    The menu bar File menu with Print selected
  3. Click Print using system dialog.

    The Print using system dialogue option on a Mac
  4. Click the Two-Sided check box next to the Copies box.

    Two-Sided printing selected in print window
  5. Click Print.

    The Mac print window with Print selected

Two-sided printing is pretty much the same if you're using Firefox or Safari, although in both cases, the browser sends you directly to the macOS system dialog.

Duplex Printing: Troubleshooting

Even if you have a duplex printer, there may be occasions in which you aren't able to select the option to print two-sided.

If you are having trouble selecting two-sided printing, try this troubleshooting tip.

  1. Go to System Preferences by selecting the Apple menu > System Preferences or by selecting its icon in the Mac Dock.

  2. Click Printers & Scanners.

    Mac System Preferences with Printer & Scanners highlighted
  3. Make sure your printer is selected in the left pane and click Options & Supplies.

    Printers & Scanners preferences with Options & Supplies selected
  4. Click the Options tab.

    The Options tab in the Printers & Scanners preferences on a Mac
  5. Check the Duplex Printing Unit check box.

    Duplex Printing Unit option in Mac printing preferences
  6. Click OK.

    Mac Printers & Scanners preferences with OK highlighted