Cannot Print PDF on Mac? Over 10 Fixes Provided Here

Rosa Reyes
May 31, 2023 Preview 46.0K Preview 2
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You may always run into situations where a PDF fails to print on a Mac. Feel very confused? Can not find the reason? This article will show you more than 10 fixes to help you troubleshoot the problem. No matter what caused your failure, you can find the right solution in it.


Have You Done These Before Asking for Technical Support?

Before going for technical support from printer supplier or PDF tool developer, there are some fundamentally basic things to do.

Check if the printer is connected to the Mac: 
Make sure the printer cable is properly connected and the printer is plugged into a power outlet and turned on.

Check the paper in the printer feed tray:

Make sure you have enough paper in the printer's feed tray, also check if there is a paper jam stopping the printing. If yes, get the paper out carefully.

Check if the printer can be seen on the Mac:

Make sure you are printing with the default printer that displayed on your mac. If there is no printer appearing on your mac, you need to manually add your preferred printer into the list of your devices by go to Finder>Apple Menu>System Preference>Printers&Scanners> Add>Select your printer from the list. 

If your preferred printer still appears on the queue, remove it from the list and re-add it to the list since the printer's queue may be corrupted.


Do Tests: 
Test 1: Choose another printer to print your PDF file, if it works, your printer is the one making trouble, go to the part "Possible Software-related Reasons" and find the solution; 

Test 2: Choose another mac/PDF reader to carry out the printing, if it works, your mac is the one making trouble, go to "Possible Hardware-related Reason" and find the solution.

Test 3: Choose another PDF file to print, if it works, your previously selected PDF is the one preventing from printing, it may be corrupt or restricted from printing, go to "Possible PDF File-related Reasons" to find the solution.  

Possible Hardware-related Reasons

The malfunction of your mac or printer may lead to the fact that you can't print a PDF file, but this is really a rare case. If there exists defects on the hardware of your mac or printer, problems won't be just confined to printing issues. However, you should try to exclude this reason by restarting your mac or printer and try as much as possible to remove your doubt.

Possible Software-related Reasons

You are not updating the Printer Driver / PDF Tool / Mac system?

Updating Printing Driver: 
This is the reason in most of the cases that you can't print a PDF. 

  1. In the case if you are using the printer that shared by another user, check if both of you are using the same software version(driver, the program control the printer) of the printer:

Go to Finder>Apple Menu>System Preference>Printers&Scanners> Select Printer in the Printer&Scanners preferences>Option&Supplies>General, to identify the printer software (Driver) version. If you are not using the same latest one, update it.

  1. In the case if you are using the printer that connected to network, check if you have updated the driver into its latest version, since printer manufacturers provide new version drivers to improve compatibility with newly developed software.

Identify your own driver version>go to printers' manufacturers' website to update to the latest version>restart your mac and re-perform the printing.






Xerox Panasonic Lexmark





Updating PDF Tool:
The PDF tool refers to those you use to open PDF and print PDF, maybe Adobe (in great number), Preview, PDFMaster or any other PDF readers with a PDF printer installed. Many users prefer to uninstall and re-install the PDF tool, it is always surprising how often simple reinstalling a program to solve a problem. Reinstalling a program clears its memory and cache. If this works for you, you are lucky. If not, go to check if PDF tool has updated to its latest version, take Adobe as the example:
Open Adobe>Help>Check for Updates

If a new update is available, install and restart it on your mac to try printing again. 
Check the system requirement for Adobe versions, make sure your Adobe version(or other PDF tools) is supported by your OS.
System Requirements for Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, Acrobat Standard DC
System requirements for Adobe Reader—older versions (XI, X, 9)

Updating Mac System:
Most printers are compatible with Mac OS. Though no-updating your Mac system is the least possible reason for why you can't print a PDF on mac, updating your mac system is still a workable solution for PDF printing. Check your OS version, also make sure the version of your PDF tool and Printer is within the compatibility of the OS version, if not, update the mac version and restart the programs to try printing PDFs.

You are setting the PDF Tool or Printer improperly?

Receiving error message: Filter Failed
To solve this, you need to reset the print system. Go to Finder>Apple Menu>System Preference>Printers&Scanners> Control + Click in the left side printer list> Reset Print System. After the printing system is reset, add your printer again by clicking on the "+" button in the Printers & Scanners preferences.

Receiving error message: There are no documents selected
Your PDF tool (Adobe) may be under protected mode, try disabling the protected mode by going to Adobe Acrobat>Preferences>Security(Enhanced)>Unmark "Enable Enhanced Security".

Also, there is an alternative to solve this by printing as image in Adobe, go to File>Print>Advanced> Select Print as Image.

Make sure the printer you want is the default printer

If there are multiple printers on Mac, check if the printer you want to use for "Print to PDF" is set as the default printer. Go to Finder>Apple Menu>System Preferences>Printers & Scanners, and confirm that the correct printer is set as the default.

What if the issue persists?

If the issue persists, you can try to reinstall the printer driver on your Mac. You can usually find the driver on the website of printer manufacturer or the PDF printer software you are using. Download and install the latest driver or software, then try using the "Print to PDF" function again.

Possible PDF File-related Reasons

Your PDF is corrupt? 
A PDF may looks fine but contain damaged content such as images or fonts that your PDF tool cannot process during printing.

  1. In the case if you got Adobe. Just print PDF as image, you can bypass the process by sending printer an image as mentioned above.
  2. If not, try downloading a professional data recovery software -- Cisdem Data Recovery on your Mac, supporting any data loss situations, without the need of specialized knowledge on data recovery.

Your PDF is secured?
Have you checked if your PDF is password protected? If you can still open your Adobe, go to File>Properties>Securities>Security Method. If it shows password security, your PDF is restricted from printing, editing or copying, and you need to unlock the file for printing.

Use the PDF Password Remover to remove password protection, then continue to print the PDF with your printer.

Here are steps to remove PDF password on Mac:

  1. Download and install Cisdem PDF Password Remover on mac.
    Free Download   Free Download
  2. Run the program, drag&drop password protected PDFs to the interface or add them by clicking "+" icon.remover01
  3. Select all encrypted PDFs and click Remove to unlock them without entering any password.remover02

How to Print PDF on Mac?

Now that you have finally figure out why you can't print PDF on Mac, let's show you how to print PDF on Mac using Preview.

Steps to print PDF on Mac using Preview:

  1. Open the PDF you want to print in the Preview app on your Mac.
  2. Click the File tab > Print. You can also press "Command +P" on the keyboard to open the print window.print01
  3. Hit Show Details and choose the printer you want. print02
  4. Here you can do some Settings for printing, such as paper size, orientation, scale, copies number, and the number of pages to print. Also, select whether to show notes in PDF and whether to print the entire image or entire page at your will.print03
  5. Once finished, click Print.

How to Print to PDF on Mac?

Sometimes you'd like to print a document, but there is no printer available, or you just want to save it in a stable format that will never change. In this case, you can print to a PDF file. Printing to PDF is greatly different from printing a PDF. It doesn't create a copy of an existing PDF document. Instead, it's an easy way to convert any file to a PDF document and save it digitally as a PDF. Luckily, macOS makes it simple to do so from almost any application that allows printing like Safari, Pages, Chrome, etc. 

How to print to PDF on Mac?

  1. Open the file you want to print to PDF.
  2. Click on the File tab > Print, or press "Command+P".print to01
  3. Click the PDF drop-down menu in the lower left corner, then choose Save as PDF.print to02
  4. Type the file name and choose the location for the PDF, then click Save.print to03

Now your file will be saved as a PDF file in the location you chose, and it will show on Mac the way it would appear if you printed it on paper.


Rosa Reyes
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Rosa has worked in Mac software industry for more than eight years. She believes that the purpose of software is to make life better and work more productively. In addition to writing, Rosa is also an avid runner.

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Comments (2) Leave a Reply

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  • Garfield

    I did the test as you instructed and found the reason, really helpful, keep up with this.

    7 years ago commonReply

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  • Emmi

    Actually! But most of the time, the problem comes out from the printer driver. You can definitely find out the reason if you look into it deeper and longer as the article listed.

    7 years ago commonReply

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