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Acrobat’s Adobe PDF Printer Replaced in Snow Leopard

You’ve purchased a copy of the new Mac OS X version, Snow Leopard (10.6), and installed it on your computer. But the Adobe PDF Printer installed by Acrobat Pro isn’t working. For example, an early poster in the Adobe Acrobat Mac forum reported:

Attempting to print to PDF via Adobe PDF 9.0 printer/driver causes the printer/driver to fire up and the progress windows indicates that distiller launches, but after that, the prompt for where to save the PDF to never appears and the file in the print queue disappears.

What you need to know is that in Snow Leopard, the Acrobat team replaced the functionality of the Adobe PDF printer with an Automator function in the Print dialog called Save as Adobe PDF. It appears in the PDF menu at the bottom of the Print dialog.

PDF menu choices

Choosing this option opens a dialog where you can select an Adobe PDF setting and choose to launch Acrobat or another PDF reader. (When you used the Adobe PDF Printer, you needed to discover that you had to choose “PDF Options” from the unlabelled popup menu in the dialog to make these choices. Alternatively, you had to choose the PDF setting in Distiller ahead of time. Now the options are much more obvious.)

Save as Adobe PDF Options

After making your choice, you’ll be prompted for a name for your PDF file and a location to save the file.

Why the change? An Adobe TechNote provides a brief explanation: “Mac OS X Snow Leopard (v10.6)’s enhanced security features prevent Adobe’s PDF Printer from functioning as it did in previous versions.” Leonard Rosenthol, Adobe’s PDF guru, provides additional details:

In a nutshell, Snow Leopard no longer supports the necessary OS features we need to install a Distiller-based printer.  It’s just as well, as that print path (of PDF->PS->PDF) is REALLY SLOW and full of a HUGE number of bugs for many years now that we couldn’t fix due to how the Apple printing system works. With Snow Leopard, you now have a new PDF Workflow entry (the things in the PDF menu in the print dialog) called ‘Adobe PDF’ which will convert the Apple-based PDF into an Adobe-based PDF using your supplied/chosen Job Options.  It does so via native PDF transcoding — no Postscript here!! So we still provide a method for creation of Adobe-quality PDFs, but it’s FASTER and MORE reliable!

A few more issues you should know about:

  • For this new feature to work, you must upgrade to Acrobat 9.1.3, the current version (or at least Acrobat 9.1). Acrobat 9.0 and earlier didn’t have this new capability.
  • If you upgrade from Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) to Snow Leopard (10.6), the Adobe PDF Printer installed by Acrobat 9 Pro is not removed. You’ll need to remove it yourself. To do so, choose Apple > System Preferences > Print & Fax. Select the printer “Adobe PDF 9.0” and click the minus (-) sign.
  • If you install Acrobat 9 Pro new in Snow Leopard, and immediately upgrade to the current version (9.1.3), the Adobe PDF 9.0 print is not installed.
  • Inevitably, since this is a new feature (and I suspect not very well tested), there are glitches. On one of my computers where I installed Snow Leopard, the feature worked a couple of days ago. Today, it’s failing in the PDF creation process with a crash. There are other reports of this in a thread on the Adobe Acrobat Mac forum. (If I get information on workarounds to solve these crashes, I’ll post it here.)
  • If your printer requests that you use the largely outmoded workflow of creating PDF using Distiller, you’ll have to use the old method. First create a PostScript file, and then process it through Distiller to create the PDF file.
Steve Werner

Steve Werner

Steve Werner is a trainer, consultant, and co-author (with David Blatner and Christopher Smith) of InDesign for QuarkXPress Users and Moving to InDesign. He has worked in the graphic arts industry for more than 20 years and was the training manager for ten years at Rapid Lasergraphics. He has taught computer graphics classes since 1988.
Steve Werner

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167 Comments on “Acrobat’s Adobe PDF Printer Replaced in Snow Leopard

  1. @Michael: Not sure if your query has anything to do with InDesign. In general, if you want to resize photos, use Preview or Photoshop; if you want to adjust PDF files use Acrobat Pro.

  2. There is a way of doing this without having to do ANYTHING!!!!!

    So SUPER easy!

    This is how I got around it for not being able to download and install any presets (on school computer) and only works if you have printers installed that can allow the changes you need to make.

    I used InDesign CS5 and this is what I did:

    1. Print Booklet…
    2. Click on PRINT SETTINGS button
    3. PRINT PRESET > set on default
    PRINTER > set on Prosript File
    PPD > set on what ever printer (doesn’t have to be Adobe pdf)
    4. Click on SETUP on left hand panel
    5. Make changes as needed such as: PAPER SIZE and ORIENTATION (landscape)
    6. This is the most important part or you’ll get a gray image!!! Click on OUTPUT on left panel and choose the option COMPOSITE CMYK.
    7. Go back to SETUP and make sure to have the Page CENTERED.
    8. In GENERAL make sure to check PRINT BLANK PAGES if it applies to your document.
    9. Now hit OK and then PRINT.
    10. Save the file.
    11. Go to Adobe Acrobat and click on FILE > CREATE PDF > FROM FILE and click on saved file.

    TADA! Instant PDF!!!!

    Took me forever to go about this since I didn’t know you can choose any printer…it’ll make you do extra steps but works just as fine! :)

    • THANK YOU!!! This save me from beating my head repeatedly against my desk in frustration as the process I had always used failed again . . . and again . . . and again . . .

  3. Hmmmm….methinks this may be the source of the buggy “Convert Word Document” in Automator when you select PDF as the outcome.

    So much for batch processing – thank you Apple and Adobe for working together to push me toward Windows.

  4. Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro, Mac OS X 10.6.7, running on a MacBook Pro [silver keys]

    Want to scan into Adobe Pro

    Is this possible? The HP scanner/printer does not appear on the list of scanners.

    It worked previously with a different scanner, but now no scanning works in Acrobat

    Please any advice, workaround, or explanation appreciated.

  5. I dont know if anyone realizes this but the option Adobe tells us to use to create PDFs without the Adobe 9.0 PPD does not hold CMYK color values our of Quark or Indesign which is ESSENTIAL for my Production Department. I found a guy who wrote me an Applescript to resort the PPD on the machine after the 9.1 update and it works fine now. I don’t know why Adobe took the PPD away because their way of producing the PDFs are crap. If you build something using certain CMYK values, that PDF you create should hold those values, not alter them.

  6. I just wanted to say thank you for the link to PDF Agent. Thank you for creating this, I’m so used to the distiller printing workflow (and use it from so many different applications) that I would be absolutely lost without it!

    I disabled the self healing via the instructions on the first link found on google (the same one James listed) and followed the instructions up to the point of creating a new PDF printer.

    I just manually chose the printer in osx’s printer pref. pane and assigned it to the adobe pdf printer PPD instead of using the Terminal command line.

    Everything seems to be up and running wonderfully and for that I can’t thank you enough!

    Now to get those PDFs flattened and out to press!

  7. Hey everyone have been f***ing around with this for ages. I ended up uninstalling Acrobat pro 9.1.2 and reinstalled acrobat pro 9.0.0 again (DO NOT UPDATE) this is when the pdf printer is deleted. The method above is crap and I was getting errors, tried SAVE AS COPY but the file size was huge. EG. exact same .eps file 18.2mb ‘Save as copy”…. print to .ps printer and use distiller to PDF… 2.8mb!!!

    hope this helps

  8. I have just purchased a new iMac running Snow Leopard, QuarkXPress 9 and CS5 including Adobe Acrobat Pro. Previously I had QuarkXPress 6.5. I produce a lot of large museum graphics which require outputting as Press Quality PDFs at custom sizes, rarely at A4 size or derivatives of A4. Previously I used Quark 6.52 and Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional all in my opinion much easier than present software. To create a PDF via a Postscript file go through QuarkXPress/Preferences/PDF and select ‘Create Postscript File for later Distilling’. Click OK. Then File/Export/Save as PDF. At the bottom of the window under ‘Options’ you can set registration marks, bleeds etc etc and check the summary before creating the Ps file. You can also open ‘Capture settings’ and select ‘Press ? High Quality…’ etc although I’m not sure this is necessary at this stage as it can also be done later in Distiller. Choose where you want to save the file and click ‘Save’. This will create a Ps file. Open Distiller select ‘Default settings’ and then drop Ps file here. So far it’s worked every time but I still wish Quark/Adobe and Leonard Rosenthol, Adobe?s PDF guru, had got their act together and not chucked the baby out with the bathwater. As another American once said “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

  9. I bitched out the people at the apple support site. Then I got my user name, and found a solution to my problem but the link was broken. I’m having a very bad computer day. So I certainly hope that this little item fixes my problem.
    How could they release a product that could not read pdf? My problem is that I cannot read a pdf page, because my screen turns black. Any hints out there of what to install so that I read my work instead relying on firefox?
    I mean, really–
    Janelle Vigil

  10. Hi, I hope my problems fit in this forum. I’m creating a booklet in Indesign CS5 and wanted to make a PDF with “print a booklet” feature (creating a postscript file). It looks alright in Indesign, the preview is just as I want it but when I import the postscript file into Acrobat only 4 pages out of 8 appear and in the wrong order.

    I get this error message:”Acrobat Distiller 9.5.1
    Started: Tuesday, 31 July 2012 at 11:43 AM
    Adobe PostScript software version: 3018.101
    CID support library initialization completed.

    Error in /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Settings/PDFX4 2008.joboptions:
    /CheckCompliance out of range
    Distilling: New brochure B&
    Start Time: Tuesday, 31 July 2012 at 11:43 AM”

    I’m on Mac OSX Snow Leopard + Adobe Acrobat 9 pro (9.5.1).
    Can anyone give me some clues as to what I can do to fix this? Thanks.

  11. I’m trying to re-PDF/PS a PDF in Acrobat X Pro so that I can reduce/enlarge/add crops/bleeds & etc. I’ve executed this workflow for ages now with all the versions of Acrobat up to version 8&9 for manipulating files for print and now I’m at a total loss with this new bogus version of Acrobat X Pro?
    Follow me on this – I have a PDF opened in Acrobat X Pro and trying to re-create an new PDF with either a reduced or enlarged PDF to a specific page size with or without crops marks for print output. This has been a breeze in the past and now its gone?
    As far as I have read this new version on the MAC cannot perform this task anymore with any of these foolish work arounds listed above since I cannot specify my page size?
    Can anyone tell me if there is a way to execute this once simple function in this new bogus version of Acrobat?
    If not – upgrading to a new stripped out version of Acrobat is useless – what a horrible version this is, all the important functionality is gone!
    Acrobat has gone from savant to crackhead by eliminating these components…

  12. My iPad must have upgraded itself because it suddenly refused to talk to my Powerbook any more; and my laptop also would not talk to my new iPod.
    Consequently, I was forced to upgrade the system to 10.6.8.
    Which meant CS3 needed a ‘fix’ so Photoshop. Illustrator and InDesign would continue to work, which thankfully all did . . . until I went to print from them.
    All I get now are ghost images and text.
    I’ve read all the above posts but am now more confused than ever because the printer driver shows as PDF 8.0 and though I’ve tried to upgrade to 9.0, I can’t seem to do so.
    Any simple answers?apart from buying CS5.5?

  13. Trying to create a color-separated PDF (2/c, black & PMS185)… I this possible with InDesign CS6?

    I used to be able to print to .eps as seps and then preview would create PDF from the .eps file using an old postscript printer PDF that I no longer have. I recently had to reinstall OS & all docs & apps and no longer have that capability as all settings have ‘disappeared’… Time Machine went south on me too.

  14. I’m trying to printbooklet and convert it to a PostScript file. My problem is my file size is 12×18″. I cannot select “Define by Driver” or “Custom Size” those are both grayed out. Can someone help me with this?

    • I’m having the same issue. It worked before to allow for adjustments in the PS file. Recently updated to OS 10.10.5 using CC 2015 early 2015 version.

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