How to Create a Virtual PDF Printer on Mac

Printing a PDF on a Mac is generally very simple: from any application that is able to print, you can normally select the “PDF” option when printing and generate a PDF file, without too many headaches.

In the old versions of macOS, in addition to printing in PDF format from the classic print dialog box, it was also possible to select a generic “PDF printer” (a virtual printer) among the various system printers. This feature has been removed in the most recent versions of macOS and even installing the commercial Adobe Acrobat software the problem is not solved (the virtual printer to create PDF does not appear like traditional printers).

Having a virtual PDF printer (seen by the system as a real printer) is a convenient feature for various reasons and in various situations (e.g. printing in PDF from programs not written exactly according to Apple’s dictates). Below, we will see how to solve the problem.

Add a virtual PDF printer to Mac

There are various more or less complicated solutions, commercial and otherwise. Below, we will look at a free and tested solution also on the recent versions of macOS (including the latest macOS 13 Ventura).

1) Download the PDFwriter for Mac application from this address: click on the “Download” button and at the end, you will get the PDFwriter_for_Mac_1.2.1 file. Double click on this file and start the “Lisanet PDFwriter” installer. Recent versions of macOS do not allow you to run unsigned apps. It is, therefore, necessary to open the System Preferences, select “Security and Privacy” and – from the General section – allow the application in question to run (“Open anyway”).

2) Once the app is allowed to run, the Lisanet PDF Writer installer starts. Select “Continue”, accept the license (“Agree”), and then “Install” (the administrator user password is required).

3) At this point the virtual printer can be added to the system by opening System Preferences> Printers and scanners: by clicking on the “+” symbol and choosing “PDF Writer” as printer. 

But be careful: you do NOT have to click immediately on the “Add” button but in the “Use” section:

  • choose “Other”,
  • select the “Library” folder (at the root of the drive where macOS is installed),
  • go to “Printers”,
  • go to “Lisanet ”And then“ PDFWRiter ”,
  • select the file“ PDFwriter.ppd”
  • Click on“ Open ”.

If you have done everything correctly you should see a screen similar to the one shown below. At this point, just click on “Add” to definitively add the printer to the standard ones in the system.Mac PDFWriter

Even the most recalcitrant programs can print in PDF, obviously choosing “PDF Writer” as a printer. The printed files end up in the following destination folder: Users/Shared/Pdfwriter/username. If you print a lot, you can obviously create an alias that points to this last folder to access the various files on the fly.

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