How to Print to PDF

Quickly convert anything to PDF on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Linux

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To "print" a PDF just means to save something to a PDF file instead of to a physical piece of paper. Printing to a PDF is usually much faster than using a PDF converter tool, and is helpful not only for saving a web page offline but also so that you can share things in the very popular and widely acceptable PDF file format.

What separates a PDF printer from a PDF converter is that the PDF printer actually appears as a printer and is listed next to any other installed printers. When it's time to print, just choose the PDF printer option instead of a regular printer, and a new PDF will be created that's a replica of whatever it is you're printing.

There are multiple ways to print to PDF. If the operating system or program you're using doesn't support PDF printing, there are third-party tools that can be used instead that will install a virtual printer that saves anything to PDF.

Use the Built-in PDF Printer

Depending on the software or operating system you're using, you might be able to print to PDF without even having to install anything.

Windows 10

Screenshot of the Windows 10 print to PDF option in a Microsoft Word document
Printing to PDF in Windows 10 Using MS Word.

A built-in PDF printer is included in Windows 10 called Microsoft Print to PDF that works regardless of the program you're using. Go through the regular printing process but choose the PDF option instead of a physical printer, after which you'll be asked where you want to save the new PDF file.

If you don't see the "print to PDF" printer listed in Windows 10, you can install it in a few simple steps.

  1. Open the Power User Menu with the Win+X keyboard shortcut.

  2. Choose Settings > Devices > Printers & scanners > Add a printer or scanner.

    Screenshot of the add printer or scanner option in Windows 10
    The 'Add a Printer or Scanner' Option in Windows 10.
  3. Select the link called The printer that I want isn't listed.

    Screenshot of the printer not listed link in Windows 10
    'The printer that I want isn't listed'.
  4. Select Add a local printer or network printer with manual settings.

    Screenshot of the Windows 10 option to add a local printer
    Windows 10 Option to Add a Local Printer.
  5. Choose FILE: (Print to File) under the Use an existing port option.

    Screenshot of the Windows 10 printer port options
    Windows 10 Printer Port Options.
  6. Choose Microsoft under the Manufacturer section.

    Screenshot of the Windows 10 add printer option
    List of Printer Manufacturers in Windows 10.
  7. Find Microsoft Print To PDF under Printers.

    Screenshot showing how to install the Windows 10 PDF printer
    Installing the 'Microsoft Print To PDF' Printer.
  8. Follow through the Add Printer wizard and accept any defaults to add the PDF printer to Windows 10. When asked, you can name the printer anything you like.

Linux

Some versions of the Linux OS have a similar option as Windows 10 when printing a document.

Screenshot showing how to use Firefox to print to PDF in Ubuntu
Printing to PDF in Ubuntu.

To print to PDF on Linux, choose Print to File instead of a regular printer. Then, select PDF as the output format and pick a name for it and a save location. Finally, just select Print to save it to the PDF format.

If your Linux operating system doesn't support PDF printing by default, you can install a third-party tool.

Google Chrome

Screenshot of the save to PDF option in Chrome
'Save as PDF' Option in Chrome.
  1. Hit Ctrl+P or go into the menu (the three horizontally stacked dots) and choose Print.

  2. Select Change... under the Destination section.

  3. Pick Save as PDF from that list.

  4. Click or tap Save to name the PDF and choose where to save it.

Safari on macOS

There are two ways to print to PDF from Safari: via File > Export as PDF or through the regular print function:

Screenshot of the option to print to PDF in Safari for Mac
'Save as PDF' Option in Safari for Mac.
  1. Go to File > Print or use the Command+P keyboard shortcut.

  2. Select the drop-down menu in the PDF drop-down option on the bottom left side of the print dialog box, and choose Save as PDF.

    Other options are available here, too, like to add the PDF to Apple Books, email the PDF, save it to iCloud Drive, or send it through the Messages app.

  3. Name the PDF and save it wherever you like.

iOS (iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch)

Apple's iOS devices have a PDF printer available, too, and you don't need to install any strange apps or pay for anything. This method uses the Apple Books app, so you need to get that if you don't already have it.

Screenshots showing how to convert a web page to PDF on an iPhone with Safari and Apple Books
'Save PDF to Books' Option in Safari for iPhone.

From the web page you want to have in the PDF format, use the share option in your browser (Safari, Opera, etc.) to open a new menu. From there, select Save PDF to Books like you see above, and the PDF will be created and automatically inserted into Apple Books.

The Apple Books method works for other things, too, like for saving photos to PDF.

Another way to save a web page to PDF from your iPhone or iPad is to use Safari's built-in PDF creator. This lets you draw on the PDF and save it to iCloud Drive or send it through email or another messaging app.

Screenshots showing how to use the Create PDF option in Safari to save a web page to PDF from an iPhone
'Create PDF' Option in Safari for iPhone.

From the page you want to print, open the Share Sheet option from the bottom of Safari, and tap Create PDF. Make changes to the PDF if you wish, and then when you're finished, select Done to save the PDF to iCloud Drive, or use the Share Sheet at the bottom to send it over a different app.

Google Docs

Google Docs isn't an operating system, but considering how widely used this word processing tool is, we'd be remiss not to mention its PDF printing abilities.

Screenshot showing how to save a Google Docs file to the PDF format
Downloading a Google Docs File to PDF.

Open the Google doc you want to print to PDF, and then go to File > Download as > PDF Document (.pdf) to choose where to save it.

You can do the same with Google Sheets and Google Slides.

Install a Free PDF Printer

If you're not running an OS or software program that supports PDF printing by default, you can install a third-party PDF printer. There are numerous programs that can be installed to create a virtual printer for the sole purpose of printing anything to a PDF file.

Once installed, the virtual printer is listed next to any other printer and can be selected just as easily as a standard physical printer. Different PDF printers have different options though, so some of them might immediately save the document to PDF but others might invoke the PDF printing software and ask how you want to save it (e.g., compression options, where to save the PDF, etc.).

Some examples include CutePDF Writer, PDF24 Creator, PDFlite, Pdf995, PDFCreator, Ashampoo PDF Free, and doPDF. Another free PDF printer program is TinyPDF, but it's only free for 32-bit versions of Windows.

It's important to be careful when installing some of these programs, particularly PDFlite, because they might ask you to install some other unrelated programs that you don't need to have in order to use the PDF printer. You can choose not to install them, just be sure to skip them when asked.

In Linux, you can use the following terminal command to install CUPS-PDF:

sudo apt-get install cups-pdf 

PDFs saved with that command go into the /home/user/PDF folder.

Use a Conversion Tool Instead

If you just want to print a web page to PDF, you don't have to worry about installing anything. While it's true that the methods above do let you convert web pages to PDF, they're unnecessary since there are online PDF printers that can do that.

With an online PDF printer, you just have to plug the page's URL into the converter and instantly save it to the PDF format. For example, with PDFmyURL.com or Web2PDF, paste the page's URL into the textbox and then hit the save or convert button to make the PDF, and follow any other directions to download it.

Both of these online PDF printers save a small watermark on the page.

This doesn't count as a no-install PDF printer, but the Print Friendly & PDF add-on can be installed to Firefox to print web pages to the PDF format without having to install a system-wide PDF printer that applies to all of your programs.

If you're on a mobile device, you might have better luck with a dedicated PDF converter instead of trying to upload the PDF through a website. UrlToPDF is one example of a method to convert web pages to PDF on Android.

Keep in mind that there are also PDF converter programs that can convert files to the PDF format. For example, Doxillion and Zamzar can save MS Word formats like DOCX to the PDF format. However, in this example, instead of using a PDF printer that requires you to open the DOCX file in Word first before you "print" it, a file converter program can save the file to PDF without it being open in a DOCX viewer.