Add shortcuts for the PDF menu items in Print dialogues

PrinterIconXWhen you print any document in OS X, you can manage the print job as a PDF by accessing the small PDF menu at the bottom-left of the print panel, where you can open the PDF in Preview, save it as a PDF to disk, and embed it in an e-mail or chat message, among other options. While the PDF menu itself is not inconvenient, accessing it does require you use the mouse by default; however, you can also assign custom hotkey shortcuts to access these items even quicker.

Using hotkeys taps into Apple’s service where you can assign a custom hotkey to almost any menu item. While for the most part this is used for items in system menus, it does apply to other menus as well, including those within application windows such as the PDF menu in print panels. Setting this up only takes a few steps:

  1. Open the Keyboard system preferences
  2. Click the Shortcuts tab
  3. Select the App Shortcuts category
  4. Click the plus button
  5. Add the name of the PDF menu item you want, exactly as it is in the menu (capitals matter).
  6. Assign a desired hotkey (I recommend the following for the associated services):
Save as PDF... —— Command-S
Open PDF in Preview —— Command-O
Mail PDF —— Command-M
PDF menu hotkey shortcuts

Add your hotkeys in the App Shortcuts section, and be sure the names are exactly as they appear in the PDF menu.

These command recommendations might seem like duplicates for built-in functions like saving and opening documents, and minimizing windows, but when the print window is open, your custom associations will take precedence. For instance, pressing Command-M will mail the PDF instead of minimizing the window.

One convenience this approach offers, is that while it works with the PDF services that Apple includes with this menu by default, it applies to anything in this menu, including custom print services you have created in Automator. These will show up in this menu, and can likewise be invoked either through the menu or by assigning a custom hotkey to them.

Custom hotkeys for the OS X PDF menu

When added, your hotkeys should appear in the PDF menu next to the item they represent. If not, then you will likely need to check the exact name in the Keyboard shortcuts settings for proper punctuation and capitalization.

7 thoughts on “Add shortcuts for the PDF menu items in Print dialogues

  1. xAirbusdriver

    Good reminder of this capability! Now, if I could just get my wife to remember command-S, command-W, command… :headbash:

  2. Bill

    Excellent Article. I was aware of this capability but never thought to use it. I use Save as PDF… a lot.

  3. Kurt J. Meyer

    I would NOT recommend to use common keyboard shortcuts like cmd-S or cmd-O, because you might inadvertently disable those general system hot keys by replacing them with you custom shortcuts.

    1. Topher Kessler Post author

      While possible, the only instance where this would happen is if you have specific menu options of the same name as those in the PDF menu, for which you have assigned the options.

  4. tingo

    Great — I’ve been wishing for such a shortcut for ages, but didn’t know how to implement it.

  5. Juan Falgueras Cano

    I used to change the SMPT server in mails while editing. it was really convenient to change it with a keyboard shortcut just before sending them. In Yosemite it has become impossible as the menu as such has disappeared!

  6. gruenix

    great tip, very useful. It made me research a shorter solution to an old problem of mine :

    I use filemaker to print large lists of items. Each item is illustrated with 1-5 at least HD jpegs (1920×1080). If I print a list.pdf despite the images only being thumbnail sized in the layout I use, they are used in the pdf in full res, hence I get a great quality but a huge 30-100 MB file.

    My solution so far was to open the list.pdf in preview, then export it and apply the quartz filter “reduce file size” . Thanks to this tip I investigated this issue again and found this

    now I nave added a “save PDF redux” option, even with a custom keyboard shortcut 🙂

    great timesaver especially as I need to do this a number of times per day (at least on some days when we do budgeting etc.)

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