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).

Double-sided printing of a doc

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.

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

  3. Click Copies & Pages.

  4. Scroll down and click Layout.

  5. Click the Two-Sided submenu.

  6. Click Long-Edge binding.

  7. Click Print.

It's worth commenting here 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.

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. 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.

  3. Click the Two-Sided checkbox next to the Copies box.

  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.

Double-sided printing of webpage

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.

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

  3. Click Print using system dialog.

  4. Click the Two-Sided checkbox next to the Copies box.

  5. Click Print.

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.

Checking System Preferences

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

  1. Go to System Preferences.

  2. Click Printers & Scanners.

  3. Make sure your printer is selected and then click Options & Supplies.

  4. Click the Options submenu.

  5. Check the Duplex Printing Unit checkbox.

  6. Click OK.