Mac OS X: The Save as PDF feature should be under Save, not Print

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
January 19th, 2004 • 8:43 am

I find the fact that the entire Mac OS X printing architecture is based on PDF absolutely great. Just the other day I was discussing with a friend who was complaining that Adobe Reader 6 was atrociously slow on his Windows laptop. It’s not that slow on my computer, but I sure am glad that I can use Preview as an alternative whenever I want to. And I am more than glad that I can create PDF files from within any application — even though I’d like a few more features in the PDF creation process.

What I cannot get used to, however, is the fact that the “Save as PDF” feature is exclusively accessible through the “Print” dialog. From the end user’s point of view, the fact that the “Save as PDF” feature is based on Mac OS X’s printing architecture is irrelevant. What he wants to do is save a file on his hard drive, not print anything.

Apple could achieve a reasonable compromise by leaving things as they are in the “Print” dialog, but also adding a “Save as PDF” command as a standard feature in the “File” menu of its applications and inviting other third-party application developers to do the same.

8 Responses to “Mac OS X: The Save as PDF feature should be under Save, not Print

  1. Pierre Igot says:

    Sounds nightmarish indeed — but it could also be that, when people tell you that they haven’t had any problems with this or that, they are lying… Not consciously, of course, but their minds choose to forget about all the problems that they are experiencing, because otherwise it would drive them crazy. We are probably part of a class of computer users who simply will not let problems go and want them to be solved, not forgotten :).

    Still, I swear I haven’t had any problems with PDF files not being viewable in Preview in Panther :-). But it’s true that I probably create more PDF files than I download and read them.

  2. Paul Ingraham says:

    This must be a holdover from the old “print to file” concept, which does not necessarily excuse it, but certainly I was not surprised to find that feature in that location. I would be most comfortable with the solution you’ve suggested.

    (As for Preview… when it works, it’s fast, but I find a surprising number of PDF documents that it simply won’t render. It’s frustrating to have to fire up two readers to cover all my bases.)


  3. Pierre Igot says:

    I have had any problems with Panther’s Preview so far. I do remember problems with Jaguar’s Preview with certain PDF files. Have you had any problems since upgrading to Panther?

  4. Paul Ingraham says:

    Oh, indeed. Happens routinely, pre- and post-Panther.

    I would be a wealthy man if I had the proverbial dime for every time someone has told me that they’ve “never had any problems” with this or that aspect of computing, in contrast to my own annoyances. Story of my digital life. While this may sound like an irrelevant and unfocussed rant… um, well, maybe it is. But in all truthfulness, that’s how it goes for me: for twenty years, people have been invariably surprised to hear about the number of problems I have with any system and any software, and always have been. It’s like I exist in an alternate universe where computers don’t quite as well.

    Sounds nightmarish, eh? And you thought MS Office was buggy enough as it is!

  5. Paul Ingraham says:

    I create few PDFs, download a couple a day. Every few days I come across one that will not render, and I have to fire up Adobe Reader — which is certainly slower than Preview, but has successfully rendered everything that Preview couldn’t.

    Tell you what: next time I get a document Preview can’t preview, I’ll send it to you, Pierre, and we’ll see what happens! Personally, I figure it’s probably my AURA, so I’m sure it’ll render fine on your machine in Nova Scotia. I don’t think my aura extends past the Great Lakes…

    But seriously, you’ve presented an interesting interpretation of my experience, and I’ve wondered similar things in the past. Certainly the average user is affected by a multitude of issues that, for example, you explicate here in your blog… yet they are rarely aware of them. My mother can rarely define her frustrations with computing more narrowly than, “Something’s not working!” How much of what goes wrong with computers is swept under the rugs of denial (“I paid 2500 bucks for this thing, it can’t possibly be a piece of crap!”) and ignorance (“You mean I should actually be able to read and print this document? Wow, I thought you had to send those files to Apple if you really needed to know what’s in ’em.”).

    It’s a theory that flatters me, however — I seem to have chronic computer problems because of my extraordinary powers of observation? — and so it’s rather suspect. ;-)

  6. Pierre Igot says:

    Never, ever underestimate the power of negative waves, as Sgt. Oddball would say. (WARNING: This site contains MIDI music that starts playing automatically.)


  7. David Velleman says:

    You’re absolutely right about “Save as PDF” being misplaced. This is the sort of thing that one expects only of Microsoft — like the feature of MS WORD that requires you to select “Footnote” from the “Insert” menu in order to access the command to convert footnotes to endnotes. If someone wants to convert all of his footnotes to endnotes, then inserting a footnote is the very last thing that he wants to do. Similarly with saving a document as PDF and printing it.

  8. Pierre Igot says:

    Another typical one: In Word, in order to delete a bookmark, you have to go to Insert/Bookmark… Mmmm.

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