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If you use the Export to PDF function on your Mac a lot, then why not save yourself some hassle and set up a keyboard shortcut for doing it? It’ll make life a lot easier for PDF power users, and in this tutorial, we’ll show you how you can it.

Setting up a keyboard shortcut for ‘Export to PDF’

You can set up an Export to PDF keyboard shortcut in just about any app on your Mac. To do that, follow the steps provided below:

1) Launch the System Preferences app on your Mac.

2) Open the Keyboard preferences pane.

Keyboard Preferences Pane 1

3) Click on the Shortcuts tab at the top of the window.

Keyboard Shortcuts Export to PDF 2

4) Select the App Shortcuts option from the left side of the window.

5) Click on the + button just below the list of shortcuts.

6) Choose the application you want to use the shortcut in, or use the All Applications option to use the shortcut in any app.

Export as PDF keyboard shortcut Make

7) Here’s where things get a little tricky, so pay attention:

Open the app you’re making a shortcut for and visit the File menu in the Menu Bar. If you see Export to PDF… then follow scenario 1 below. If you see Export to → PDF…, then follow scenario 2 instead.

Scenario 1: In the keyboard preferences you opened in step 6, enter “Export as PDF…” in the Menu Title text field. This works for a number of system apps like Mail, Notes, and Safari.

Scenario 2: In the keyboard preferences you opened in step 6, enter “PDF…” in the Menu Title text field. This is necessary for iWork apps, like Keynote, Numbers, Pages, and other non-stock apps.

Note: If you see anything other than “Export to PDF…” or “Export to → PDF…” in the menu, then you will use the lowest level of the menu command. It’s unlikely your results will vary, but if you see something different drop us a comment below.

8) Choose a keyboard shortcut by selecting the Keyboard Shortcut text field and pressing the keys you want to use. We recommend Shift ⇧ + Command + P.

9) Click on the blue Add button to save your changes.

Now you’ve successfully added the Export to PDF keyboard shortcut to your Mac. When you attempt to use it in another app, such as on a web page in Safari, this should happen:

Safari Export to PDF website

When you click on the blue Save button, that should save a PDF file to your chosen output folder:

PDF Export

And that’s all there is to it!

With the Export to PDF command ported over to a simple keyboard shortcut, you no longer have to go looking for it from the Menu Bar. While it doesn’t work in every app, it works in a lot of them and should make life a lot easier for those of you that are PDF fanatics.

Also read:

Will you create an Export to PDF shortcut on your Mac? Share in the comments below!

  • jw

    I never realised I could do this. Thanks Anthony!

  • Andrew Leary

    This didn’t work for me. In Safari menu, I have “Export As PDF”. Also, I don’t know what “the lowest level of the menu command” means.

    • To clarify about the “lowest level of the menu command,” basically if you have a menu like this: File → Export to → PDF, then PDF would be the lowest level of the command because it’s the last option in the menu list.

      Also, you need to add three dots after “Export as PDF” so that it looks like this: “Export as PDF…”

      I hope this helps!

      • Andrew Leary

        Thanks, Anthony. Works now. Appreciate your work.