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 previous versions of the Mac OS, the Acrobat Distiller application was required to create them. 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 or with the Acrobat Reader that is part of the standard Mac OS X installation.

Creating PDF Files

Creating PDF files is an extremely simple task.

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

  2. Choose File, Print.

  3. Choose Output Options from the Options pop-up menu.

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


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

  5. Click Save.

  6. Name the document and choose 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, choose 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 quite useful when you want to be able to send your documents to other people.

To create PDFs that contain hyperlinks and other electronic document features, you will need to use a more sophisticated application. For example, Adobe applications can save documents in PDF format and can preserve hyperlinks within those documents. Or, you can use the 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 will either need to open the document using a Mac OS application or create the PDF using Acrobat or other application that is 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 will launch and you can view the PDF. Use the commands on the Display menu to navigate in and control the appearance of the PDF. For example, use the Zoom In command (graphics/symbol.gif+Up arrow) to magnify the PDF file.


Because Acrobat Reader enables you to take advantage of all the features that PDF documents offer, you might want to designate it as the default application for all PDF documents so that 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. 142.


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 Lifestyle