Working with PDFs

Portable Document Format (PDF) files are one of the most useful ways to output documents for electronic viewing. Any PDF document can be easily read by anyone using any computer platform. PDF documents maintain their appearance because they do not rely on fonts and other aspects of the system on which they are viewed.

Under Mac OS X, PDFs are a native file format. You can create PDFs from within any Mac OS X application, and you can read PDF files with the Preview application.



The free Adobe Reader application is also available for Mac OS X. This application offers more features for viewing PDFs than does Preview, but either application will get the job done. To download a copy of Adobe Reader, visit

Creating PDF Files

Creating PDF files is an extremely simple task:

  1. Open the document for which you want to create a PDF.

  2. Select File, Print.


    You can also click the Save As PDF button instead of performing steps 3 and 4.

  3. Select Output Options on the Options pop-up menu.

  4. Check the "Save as File" check box and select PDF on the Format menu.


    The other option on this menu is PostScript. This creates a PostScript version of the file you are printing. This can be useful for a number of tasks, such as sending to a Bluetooth printer or printing service.

  5. Click Save.

  6. Name the document and select a location in which to save it. Use the filename extension .pdf.

  7. Click Save.


When you do a print preview under Mac OS X, the preview is in PDF. You can also create a PDF file by previewing a file; when the preview window appears, select File, Save As PDF.

Creating a PDF using the Output Options command does not create or preserve any hyperlinks in a document. For example, if you create a PDF of a Web page, the links on that page will not be functional. Similarly, if you create a text document that contains a table of contents in which the entries are hyperlinked to the sections in the document, the resulting PDF will not contain active links. Basically, creating a PDF using the Print command simply replicates a paper document without adding any features of an electronic document. Even so, being able to create a PDF from any document using the Print command is useful when you want to send your documents to other people.


Creating a PDF version of a document is also a great way to capture versions of that document at specific points in time for archival purposes.

To create PDFs that contain hyperlinks and other electronic document features, you need to use a more sophisticated application. For example, Adobe applications can save documents in PDF format and preserve hyperlinks within those documents. Or, you can use the full Acrobat application to create more sophisticated PDFs from any application.


You can't use the Print dialog box to create PDFs from Classic applications. You either must open the document using a Mac OS application or create the PDF using Acrobat or another application capable of creating PDFs (such as Adobe FrameMaker).

Viewing PDFs with Preview

To view the document you created, open it. Unless you have configured PDFs to open in a different application, Preview launches and you can view the PDF. Use the commands on the View menu to navigate in and control the appearance of the PDF. For example, use the Zoom In command (graphics/mac.gif-+) to magnify the PDF file.


Because Adobe Reader enables you to take advantage of all the features PDF documents offer, you might want to designate it as the default application for all PDF documents so it opens automatically when you view PDFs.

To learn how to associate file types with applications, see "Determining the Application That Opens When You Open a Document," p. 169.


If you are serious about creating PDFs, consider getting a copy of Adobe Acrobat. With this application, you can create full-featured PDFs that can contain hyperlinks, hot-linked indexes, and so on.

    Part I: Mac OS X: Exploring the Core
    Part III: Mac OS X: Living the Digital Life