Printing Tricks - Mac Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts in easy steps (2015)

Mac Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts in easy steps (2015)


Printing Tricks

Like networking, Mac OS X makes printing a breeze. In this section we will look at printing tricks, setting up user-defined presets, and creating PDFs perfectly.

Printer Drivers

With modern computers, and Macs in particular, adding printer software to your computer is incredibly easy. Gone are the days when you had to install printer drivers from CDs supplied with your printer.

Installing a printer on the Mac

imageGo to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Printers & Scanners


imageIn the window that opens to add a printer click the + symbol and select Add

imageYou will then be shown a list of available printers. Even if your Mac does not have the drivers for these, clicking on one of these printers will force the Mac to connect to the internet to download the required software

imageOnce the window shows the name, location, etc., click Add and the printer driver will be installed for you

imageClose the window and start printing



If a printer misbehaves, delete it and reinstall it.

Exploring Printing Options

When you print on the Mac a print dialog box will open.

Most likely this will be the simplified dialog box. There will be times when you want to change the layout, page range, color and quality options, and many other variables. In order to do this you must click the Show Details button at the bottom of the print dialog box. Two thirds of the way down the window you will see the name of the application, in this case Safari, and below this is a dropdown menu where you can change many aspects of the printouts. You should explore these on an app-by-app basis.

Expand print panel by default

Use Terminal and type:

defaults write NSGlobalDomain
PMPrintingExpandedStateForPrint -bool true

Simplified print dialog box


Expanded print dialog box showing two pages per sheet


Expanded print dialog box showing booklet-printing options


Print to PDF

PDF (Portable Document Format) files are popular because they let someone view your document even if you created it using software the recipient does not have. With recent versions of OS X, an inbuilt PDF generator makes it incredibly easy to create a PDF file.

Sometimes your document may contain lots of images or photos which will make the PDF huge (and difficult to email). You will need to reduce the size of the PDF to make it more user-friendly (see here).

Create a PDF file

imageGo to Print and select the PDF option


imageThe file will be saved to the Desktop or other specified location

Viewing the PDF

In OS X, Preview is the default PDF viewer. You can change this to Acrobat Reader or another PDF viewer by right-clicking the PDF file and selecting another app.



Reducing the size of your PDF will make it easier to email.

Shrink the size of the PDF

imageOpen the file in Preview and go to File > Export...

imageChoose the Quartz Filter > Reduce File Size


Create User Presets

If you regularly print in a certain way, e.g. landscape, two pages per sheet, or use other settings in the print dialog box each time you print, you can save these as a preset so that each time you print you can simply choose your preset, then all the settings will be there.

For example, to proofread a book like this I use landscape, two pages per sheet with crop marks and other features. It is a chore setting this up each time so I saved these settings as a preset:

imageGo to Print > Detailed print dialog box

imageEnter all the settings you wish to use

imageClick Save Preset and give it a name

imageEach time you want to access those presets simply choose that preset


Default preset. This is what you would see if you choose Print. There are no special layout or other features specified.


User preset, with printer’s crop marks, two pages per sheet in layout mode, high resolution etc. Once set up, these have been stored as my user preset and I can call it up each time I want to print sections of the book or even the entire book.


For specialized printing use presets, especially if you are going to use these settings frequently.

Save Paper and Ink!

Many printers allow draft printing (using less ink). The output does not look particularly great but if you simply want to proofread something, you don’t need to have everything printed at high resolution. In addition, draft printing is faster than full resolution, especially if you have many images or photos in the document.


Apps to save printing costs

There are some free and paid apps that let you print many pages per sheet using less ink, for proofreading. PagePacker is one such app which is easy to use but only prints eight pages at a time. To print more pages, use Preview and under the printer presets choose nine or 16 pages per sheet.