Sunday, October 01, 2006

Three Steps from Pages to PDF




Here is the method I use to produce compact and clear PDF documents from Pages files.

1. 'Print' file to PS. Under File menu click on Print. When Print dialogue window opens click on the drop-down menu and choose Save as PostScript. As that would be my temporary work file I save it to Desktop.


2. Launch Acrobat or Preview and open the PS file.

3. Save your PDF document.



Pages documents look elegant and professional. To bring them to your friends or clients you need to convert them to PDF format (portable document format.) Any computer can open PDF files with Acrobat Reader. Apple Macs have their own PDF making machine - Preview (in Applications folder.) However files made in Preview are often so big, they can't be sent via e-mail. Choosing 'Compressed PDF' option helps a bit, but the files would still be bulky. Another consideration is that professional printers can't convert them from the computer screen three colour mode (RGB) to the four colour print mode (CMYK.)

The best results I have achieved so far were through Acrobat Pro with Acrobat Distiller. You can open your PS file under file menu, or go via Create PDF - from File option. Or put Acrobat icon in the Dock and drag and drop the PS file onto the Acrobat icon. Distiller is launched automatically.

The PDFs produced that way are compact and retain the high image quality which is so attractive in Pages.

Please read a more detailed explanation of how this method works in the later article 'Pages and Professional Printshops: Why PostScript?' and tips on what to do if you don't have Acrobat Distiller here. See the list of other articles and updates on Pages, PDFs and working with professional printers here.


Update 2010: this article was written four years ago. If you wonder if the method I described here still works, yes, it does. And I have since found other publishers who use iWork/Pages for high-end publishing and printing. 
Update 2013: Read more in my new book 'iWork for Mac OSX Cookbook' (2012). Follow me on Twitter at iworkinpages, like my page I Work in Pages on Facebook and add me to your circles on Google+.



66 comments:

  1. Just a note of thanks. Your post solved a problem for us in a quick and clear manner! Merci beaucoup.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous2:26 am

    Thanks so much! I almost emailed the paper to my work email to make it into a format that was acceptable to submit for a scholarship. This saved me tons of time and procrastination.

    ReplyDelete
  3. E. from Norway11:55 pm

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

    Saved my life...

    ReplyDelete
  4. glad it helped.
    what a way to save lives!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I keep getting distiller error no pdf created after printing as ps from pages

    ReplyDelete
  6. It happens sometimes with me too.
    Try these:
    - junk existing PS file and create a new one;
    - quit Acrobat/Distiller and launch again;
    - quit Pages and open again, try processing PS again;
    - email Pages doc to a friend with Acrobat to process; this will show if your version of Distiller somehow got damaged;
    - resave your Pages doc with a different, shorter file name. Strange, but it sometimes helps;
    - recreate your Pages doc from scratch and try processing again.
    If the above doesn't help ask your printer to process your files from PostScript.
    Hope this helps.
    Alex

    ReplyDelete
  7. Many thanks.

    I was having a problem where pages with Japanese and English fonts looked warped when converted to PDF, your little trick fixed it wonderfully.

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  8. glad it helped - best wishes.

    ReplyDelete
  9. But isn't it easier when you click on print on the bottom left of the window it says PDF and you click on it then there comes a list that says save as pdf and it will save it for you as a pdf

    ReplyDelete
  10. it may be easier, but PDFs produced without the PS stage can't be processed for four colour printing (CMYK). This is the main consideration for using Pages-PS-PDF process. Sometimes the quality of graphics and text is unsatisfactory (see Dan's comment above, for example).

    Thanks for commenting.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous4:49 pm

    "Saving as PDF," unfortunately, does not do the job. A document printed from the PDF is evidently different from the document printed directly from Pages. The text area is reduced to 7/8 the size you defined in your Pages document, making the type and any illustrations smaller, and the margins larger. And inner- vs. outer-margin differences disappear. I'm hoping that Apple will fix this.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Greetings Alexander, I was relieved to find your website! When I did what you suggested, and I saw my MAC "pages" document saved as a PDF FILE I was totally thrilled ... however, my file pdf file couldn't be opened by my husband' s Windows computer. Please, do you have any additional suggestions? Thanks for your help. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Can the Windows computer open other PDF files? or is it just the one you've created?

    Check first of all if your husband has a PDF reading programme on his computer, e.g. Acrobat Reader. Try to launch it and then go thru File>Open and open the PDF file. If not, Safari and QuickTime can open PDFs, and some other programmes too.

    Or make the PDF once again - sometimes they get corrupted in the process, though it is rare.

    Hope this helps.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks! Yes, my husband can open all PDF files but the ones I send him. I followed your instructions to the tee 3 times. I need to figure this out for business reason so I'd appreciate any other ideas you may have. Is it correct that if I get Windows with Word for Mac that would solve the problems? Even though that program is expensive I may just end up doing that. Again your help is much appreciated. Aloha from Kona, Hawaii :-)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Laurie,

    first, you don't need Word for Mac, you can download OpenOffice (just Googgle it) for free. It is similar to MS Office and produces .doc files. In Europe OpenOffice is widely used by government offices and volunteer organisations, and of course private individuals.

    second, PDF files should open on any computer, that's what they are for. There could be some incompatibility between prorgrammes on your Mac and on your husband's computer. Try these:

    - make a PDF from another programme on your Mac, for example TextEdit, and see if your husband can open it. If it works, than something went astray in your iWork/Pages. Try reinstalling it.

    - Try to send your PDF to someone else, to a friend or to a web-based email address and then download it in an internet cafe or your local library and see if you can open the PDF there. If this works, then there is something missing on your husband's computer.

    - Try to make a PDF via an alternative process, for instance 'Save as PDF' or 'Mail PDF'. It this works, then something gets lost when your Adobe Acrobat processes the PS file. Check for Acrobat updates. This problem is unlikely, because you can open the PDFs you've made.

    - So, next thing to check is if you both have up to date versions of Acrobat. If your husband's version is much older, he may not be able to open yours. The workaround here is to download the newest free Acrobat Reader and check if that works.

    If this sounds like a lot of hassle, think: you only have to find a solution once - then you fly.

    Hope this helps.

    ReplyDelete
  16. - and another problem I once had: corrupted fonts or missing fonts. Make sure your Pages document uses fonts that your husband has on his computer.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anonymous6:15 am

    Hi Alexandar,
    The pages->ps->preview only works for print docs. Online docs that have hyperlinks in them lose all the links. Was hoping that this solution would help. So far either pages export sucks or adobe reader sucks on the mac.

    Take Care,

    ReplyDelete
  18. but of course they do. that's the whole point, unless you WANT to have pale blue text suddenly appearing in the middle of your PRINTED text.

    The process described here is for producing PDFs for printshops, not for uploading to the internet.

    Thanks for your comment.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great information, i like this , i have try this and run well.
    Many thanks

    ReplyDelete
  20. Peter2:39 pm

    This is probably the best moment of my life this year! I create [in my opinion] GREAT stuff in Pages...love it! And then the whole conversion to pdf thing drove me bats! Now I can do it! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  21. this is freakin awesome. preserve the quality of the images very well. thanks man!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi there,

    I'm aware of this workaround, but I'm ending up with the wrong page sizes! I don't have Adobe, so I'm just using Preview (Mac OSX 10.6.4). I make the postscipt file, but then when I open it with Preview, it's an 8.5x11, not a 8.5x9.5 (as I formatted it in Pages). I LOVE Pages - can you help me?!?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Kathryn hi,

    First, I tried recreating your problem:
    - you open a Pages document, set in A4 format by default.
    - then you change Page Setup, say from A4 to A5;
    - click Print, choose Save file as Postscript... and process via Preview - only to get A4 again

    is it what happens?

    If it is you've probably missed saving the new format. When in Page Setup, choose your format and CLICK OK. You will see that your Pages document changed format. After that 'print' to PostScript and make PDF via Preview.

    Read Doug Gilmore's comments and my replies to him on
    From Pages to CMYK PDFs - you'll have to scroll down to the end of comments thread.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I haven't tried your suggestions yet (but I'm going to!). I actually fixed it simply by upgrading to the new iWork software (I was using an older version of Pages).

    Thanks so much.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Anonymous8:21 pm

    I have Apple imac i3.. bought i work. with pages.. i design my own flyers and other things for advertising my work.. i bought this because i had coral draw before with Windows software. anyway i sent a Pdf file off for 2 ALU Dibond advertising signs ( 40 cm x 30 cm to a printers here ) any way when converted to a pdf looked great on the screen.. but when i got the plates back from the printers .. the photos which are high resolution from fotolia and I stock looked rather dismal and the whole thing was rather dark.. the actually print quality didnt look good and the printing firm uses 600 dpi....

    ReplyDelete
  26. It's difficult to say what went wrong without looking into details.

    All I can suggest here is that it's always good, I'd say necessary, to ask for proofs - actual paper proofs, check them and only then give the printers a go-ahead. Blind dates don't always work.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Anonymous7:43 am

    Hi,
    I'm in a bind....trying to get Staples to print 200 funeral programs.....When I give them my pdf file of my 11x17 Pages document, everything is fine except for the pictures, which I applied a "Picture frame" of soft edges to while in Pages. When I print the pdf at home, it's fine. But at Staples, it comes up on their screen with straight - not soft - edges. Can you help? Funeral is Tuesday morning. Oh, and I created the pdf from the File menu.
    Thanks, Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  28. hi, Lisa,
    Did you first 'print' your Pages document to PostScript and then created the PDF?
    See if Staples print centre can take PostScript files to process into PDFs for you.

    Sorry to hear about your predicament.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Help?

    I have an 11x17 pages doc that I need printed. In page set-up, it's set at custom and below says 17x11, but when I print to post-script it only shows half of each page (8.5x11). How do I fix this?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Kris, hi,
    I'm half asleep here in Europe - I'll look again at your problem in the morning, but I think it has an easy solution. Look at this post:

    http://i-work-in-pages.blogspot.com/2010/12/problems-with-setting-custom-dimensions.html

    Let me know if it'd helped.

    Thanks for commenting.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Lokiboy9:29 pm

    Hi Alexander,

    I found your articles extremely encouraging to my efforts in creating a successfull conversion of my Resume/CV which I painstakingly made on Pages with a lot of hardwork, only to be found distorted on pdf.

    Now, Ive read several articles on this including your posts and what I gather is that the best way to convert a pages file to a pdf file while retaining its elegance (fonts, layout etc.) is to create a postscript and use acrobat to open it and create a pdf out of it? If thats what you suggest and agree with, Il purchase the acrobat pro version without two doubts in mind as I want my CV to look aboslutely how it does on Pages currently and I cant seem to do so as of now.

    Would greatly, greatly appreciate your word on this!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi,
    thank you for putting so much trust in what I write. I think, if your only purpose is to have a good looking CV, for conversion to PDF you might use Preview and save your money for a more challenging project.

    The process I've described has reliably worked for me for years (Pages-PS-Distiller), but of course this doesn't mean I am entering into any sort of legally binding deal - everyone has to try and check it for themselves.

    Good luck with your job search.

    Alex

    ReplyDelete
  33. Lokiboy5:48 am

    Hi Alexander,

    Thanks a lot for your reply. Really appreciate your help.

    I have tried to convert throguh preview as you mentioned but in the final version which ends up as a pdf, I still see a much uglier version of the document when I open it up in adobe reader as a pdf file. I have tried various permutations as well to see if anything works but I keep getting a format in pdf which simply looks bad. The fonts are distorted and its not the same elegance which I see in Pages.

    Is there anything wrong which I am doing? Usually this is what I would do to create a simple pdf converted file.

    Ive tried pretty much everything with my options on my Mac! I have also read several forums for this problem and while many seem to have it, theres no concrete solution, seemingly.

    ReplyDelete
  34. it's hard to suggest a fix without really understanding what you don't like about your PDF.
    You say 'fonts are distorted'. It could be the 'true black' issue. Select all black text in your document and in Text Inspector set colour to 100 black:
    - click on colour well to open Colour viewer,
    - click on slides, choose CMYK in the drop-down menu,
    - set CMY to zero and K to 100.

    See if this helps.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thank you. Solved my problem in 2 minutes! Great site.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Anonymous10:08 pm

    Thank you for the tips - much appreciation!!

    Mike

    ReplyDelete
  37. thanks a lot!!! thanks to the tips i managed to send my report in time..@@

    ReplyDelete
  38. Anonymous4:22 pm

    nov 25,2011 just read your post and tried it . Thanks I now found one way to convert and still make changes on it. maybe I should have looked at all
    the options on the drop-down menue thanks again

    ReplyDelete
  39. thanks, and good luck with your project!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Anonymous5:23 pm

    Alexander:
    Do you know if one can create PDF documents from iWork Keynotes or iWork Numbers?
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  41. yes, same process, I've tried it, but haven't had much use for them in my line of work.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Anonymous7:17 pm

    Using Pages to create 150-page football program. It will be printed on 4-color printer. What's the best way to do this again? Print to PS and then open PS in Acrobat and save as PDF. Do I need to only use colors from the slider and not from the wheel?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand it's a desktop printer? Then you don't need to adjust anything. Just remember that colors come out slightly darker on paper than they look on screen. Adjust images at layout stage in Pages.

      Delete
  43. Hi, I really appreciate your post. I've made several scientific posters in Pages '09 and now want to share them with colleagues for feedback via PDF files. I have found that no matter how I export them (print to PS then save as PDF, or direct export to PDF, or print to PDF), some images become really poor quality and some Pages features (like shadows and frames around images) are missing in the PS or PDF versions. I suspect the image quality may have to do with the fact that I'm working with images people sent me already imported in a powerpoint file (and for the final versions I would obtain the original images), but the issue of dropping some of the Pages specific formatting seems strange. Any ideas?

    Thanks, Wendy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wendy, hi,
      - First of all check the quality of the original images without any iWork/Pages features. Open them in Preview and check info. Good quality images should have DPI of 300 or above in real dimensions. A small image may have 300 DPI but when you enlarge it the count may drop.
      - Assuming you use Acrobat for producing PDFs, check Acrobat settings for PDF, you may have to change them to a higher setting.
      - Some of the picture frames in Graphic Inspector (the ones that look like old-fashioned photo album frames) just don't work at high resolution in large dimensions. But if you want to achieve a similar effect in high resolution, create your own frames as objects using the Draw tool or find a high resolution photo of a framed picture/painting and put your image inside the frame by superimposing your image and adjusting dimensions of your image to fit inside the frame.
      - Shadows have given me a lot of headache too. When I use them I make sure that any text in the document is well removed away from the shadow, otherwise it comes out fuzzed on PDFs.
      Hope this helps.

      Delete
  44. thank you so much! i've been so frustrated for the past 2 days trying to figure out how to change to a PDF properly.. every time i tried, it would change photos in my document and would make the document too large to email!
    Is there any other reason my photos would get all messed up? it swapped them all around, to places i never put them, sometimes duplicating. It finally worked after your tips (it was small enough to email and the pictures stayed put!), thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  45. Anonymous12:32 pm

    THANKS FOR WONDERFUL POST

    ReplyDelete
  46. Hi there,

    So I'm really struggling here and thought I'd reach out. I'm running Mountain Lion and I just can't get the Pages to PostScript to PDF thing to work. I can make the .ps file fine, but then when I open it, either with Distiller or with Preview, I get an 8.5x11" document when my Pages file is set to 6x9". I have the custom size selected in Pages (that I created myself). And the "Print as Adobe PDF" option doesn't work from the Print window... I go through the process and then it says there is an error creating the PDF. Apparently it's a common problem but I am so stressed right now! Can you help me? Any idea what I'm doing wrong?

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hi again,

    So this is weird, but what finally fixed it was uninstalling and reinstalling my HP Photosmart Printer. I noticed that the custom paper sizes weren't coming up as options, so I wasn't able to select them as a print size - even though I wanted to print to post script and not to my actual physical printer.

    Anyway, I deleted the printer then reinstalled it. Then the custom paper sizes came up. So I had my HP printer selected and then the right paper size (6" x 9") was automatically there. THEN I chose to save as a post script file, then it converted correctly to PDF both with Preview and Distiller.

    SOOO weird, but I wanted to share my story in case it somehow helps someone else. The option "Save as Adobe PDF" still doesn't work for me, but that is a riddle for another day. BTW, I am running Mountain Lion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathryn hi,
      thanks for sharing your situation. It could well be that the HP Printer causes the problem. If you look at printer forums (there is a long discussion on an Amazon group for example), you will see that many users are critical of HP perfromance.
      Save as Adobe PDF should work if Adobe is installed.

      Delete
  48. ty
    you really saved me from a lot of trouble with your advices

    ReplyDelete
  49. I suggest an easier process, this online tool: http://www.kitpdf.com/web_to_pdf/. You just paste the link, convert and download the PDF file.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Anonymous5:06 am

    Hi I am wondering if you can help with text that is ghosting or faded when I convert to a postscript from pages.
    Some text is clear and some is faded....please help thank you michelemphotos@optusnet.com.au

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Try changing your text to 'true black'.
      Select all text: Command+A
      Open the colour viewer (click on the colour bar in Text Inspector)
      Click on the Sliders icon and select CMYK from the drop-down menu
      Drag C,M, and Y sliders to zero and K slider to 100%

      If the faded bits of text are the ones in text boxes, try and bring them to front. Select the text box and under Arrange menu choose Bring to Front.

      Hope this helps.

      Delete
  51. OMG THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU - this is one of the best workarounds I've discovered for apple!!!

    ReplyDelete
  52. Anonymous7:07 pm

    Thank you. You are a life-saver! You deserve a medal.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I found your website last year when printing a document I created in Pages and it saved me so much time! Doing the same job this year however and I have run into a problem which I'm really hoping you can help me with...

    My document pages need bleed so I've created them in Pages on 216 x 303mm size pages. When I print to PS and then convert to PDF through Distiller somehow the top of each page is cropped - I have no idea why and it didn't do it last year - can you help???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First of all check if you've saved your dimensions when you were setting them.
      Then see this article with a number of ways to correct the PDF. I've had it several times.
      http://i-work-in-pages.blogspot.fr/2012/02/when-pdf-scales-down-truncates-or.html

      Delete
  54. hello...i've been trying to get a document to the printer but every time i convert to a pdf (even with your PS trick) parts of the illustrations disappear (specifically lines from boxes around the diagrams). really need to get this figured out. can you help?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hard to say without seeing your settings. Do you build diagrams within Pages or import them?

      Delete
    2. i have a graphic designer who makes the illustrations in Illustrator. she then flattens the images and i put them in the document.

      Delete
    3. I've done the same with parts of my magazine, no problem. She sent me press-ready PDFs and I imported them into my Pages files. After that I processed them to my own press-ready PSFs. Do you add lines/boxes after importing into Pages?

      Delete
  55. no, i don't. the illustrations are odd shapes (lines extending past squares, etc) and i hadn't thought to add lines around the boxes or to the problem areas. i will give that a try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, that may be a solution for you. After importing an image (pdf, jpeg etc) you can use Pages graphic tools to add a selection of lines (frames) choosing from styles and colours.

      Delete
  56. excellent. thank you for pointing me in the right direction!

    ReplyDelete

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