CUPS-PDF full review

One of my favourite Mac OS X features is the capability to “print” to a PDF file. In any program, you just choose the Print command, click on the PDF button in the Print dialog, and then choose Save As PDF. In fact, as part of my personal efforts to conserve, the vast majority of “printing” I do these days is directly to PDF. For example, I have a Receipts folder that contains a PDF receipt for every online purchase from the past few years. (Which means that in addition to saving trees and toner, I’ve also made it easier to store and find information about past purchases. And since I have a good backup routine, all those documents are also backed up regularly.)

My only beef with this system is that I wish it were more efficient. Whereas printing involves simply pressing Command+P and then the return key, saving a document as a PDF requires me to press Command+P, mouse down to the PDF button and click on it, choose Save as PDF from the resulting menu, navigate to the desired folder, and then press return. (If I choose to rename the resulting PDF before saving, that's another step.) This may not seem like much, but when you print to PDF as many times each day as I do, it’s a hassle.

I found a solution in CodePoetry’s CUPS-PDF. Actually a Mac OS X-specific version of the open-source CUPS-PDF project, CUPS-PDF is essentially a virtual printer driver for CUPS (Common UNIX Printing System), OS X’s printing software. Once installed, using OS X’s own Installer program, CUPS-PDF lets you create a “printer” that automatically saves documents as PDF files.

Adding a CUPS-PDF "printer".

Setup isn’t difficult, but it requires a few more steps than adding most printers. In Leopard, you open the Print & Fax pane of System Preferences, and then click on the add (+) button. In the window that appears, click on Default in the toolbar, then select CUPS-PDF in the printer list. (The default printer name will be “CUPS-PDF”; you can change it, if you prefer, in the Name field.) From the Print Using pop-up menu, choose Select A Driver To Use, and then select Generic Postscript Colour Printer in the list of printer drivers. Click on Add to create the new printer.

NEXT: Converting documents to PDF format

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