How to Print to PDF on your iPhone or iPad

This how-to is based on iOS 10 and I only just discovered this feature, in spite of having looked for it many times over.

Whether from a website or from a word processing app or just about anywhere, I’ve always wanted to be able to print to PDF on my iOS devices. It seemed only natural that Apple would make something like this available when you print from your device. When you go to the share icon and choose to print, shouldn’t one of your options be to select a PDF printer? But, alas, you can only select an AirPrint enabled printer on your network.

Well, I have GOOD NEWS! The capability is there and has been there all along.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to any app that is print-enabled and select to print. Usually, that means finding the share icon.
  2. In the extensions menu, tap Print:
  3. Now, for the secret sauce. In the print preview window, use two fingers to expand the page (opposite of “pinch”). In other words, touch the screen with two fingers and spread them apart. VOILA!!
  4. You now have a preview of the PDF that you can send to any other app, including cloud storage such as Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, or OneDrive. You can even send it to apps that allow annotations on PDFs for marking up.

Some other helpful related tips:

  • Some apps like the Microsoft office suite of apps have the print functionality embedded somewhere besides the share icon, so you may have to look for it.
  • The Word app, at the time of this writing, does not have an export-to-pdf feature so this is extremely useful if you want to produce a pdf of your word documents.
  • Occasionally, the print preview is blank and I cannot expand the preview window. In that case, I just cancel out and try again. It usually works the second time.
  • Articles in Safari work best if you first switch to reading mode before you select print. To do this, tap the reading mode icon at the left end of the address bar:

Hope this was helpful!

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