How to Use the Mac’s Hidden Printing Features

Updated July 6th, 2016.

— How to Use the Mac’s Hidden Printing Features —

Everyone knows how to print… it’s just File/Print, or Command-P for the keyboard people. What else is there to know? Plenty. Here are some tips that will have you printing faster/better/more efficiently than ever before.

Tip Number One: Expand the Print dialog box.
When you bring up the Print dialog box, it might be kind of small, like this:

If you like ’em small, this box will work just fine… but if you want access to a bunch of handy features, click that downward-pointing triangle in the blue square, up at the top of the box. When you do that, you get an expanded box. Just look at all of those options (see below).

Ah, that’s better. You get a nice preview (now we know it’s going to take 24 pages to print), and you get to specify how many copies, and which pages, and a whole lot more. Use the little arrows under the preview thumbnail to see what’s one each page– maybe you don’t need to print everything after all.

Tip Number Two: Explore the Layout options.
In the expanded dialog box above, I’m printing from Safari. (One of the clues is the pop-up menu that says “Safari” on it.) If you click on the pop-up menu that says “Safari” you will see some other choices (see below). Choose Layout and you’ll see things change up a bit.

After choosing Layout, here I’ve chosen to print two “pages” on each sheet of paper. All of a sudden my 24-page print job is going to take only 12 sheets. All I did is choose 2 from the “Pages per Sheet” menu (could have been 4, 6, 9, or 16 if I wanted it to be) and then choose an option from the Border menu. See below.

Pretty neat. One of these days this is going to help you.

Tip Number Three: Print your pictures using Preview
I hope that you’re using Preview to open JPEGs and PDFs and other graphic formats. I could write a nice blog entry showing why Preview is so much better than Acrobat Reader, or I could just tell you it’s better and hope you’ll take my word for it. When it comes to printing, nothing has a better combination of features and ease of use than Preview– certainly not Acrobat.

Here’s a picture, opened in Preview, and we’re ready to print.

This looks a lot like the Safari Print dialog but there are plenty of differences. Most important is the “Scale to Fit” button. You can see, in the box next to “Scale”, that Preview had to scale the image to 70% to fit it onto the paper. Nicely, conveniently, this is what Preview does, by default. Very nice of them.

The Auto Rotate checkbox is almost always a good thing to have checked, so leave it checked.

Now, let’s look at the bottom of the box, where it says “Images per page.” Let’s say that you want to make multiple copies of the picture– smaller ones that you can give away. Choose a number other than 1 in the Images per page pop-up menu, and check the box next to “Print n copies per page.” (“n” will be the number you chose in the Images per page pop-up menu.) You’ll see what you’re going to get in the thumbnail preview. Notice that “Auto Rotate” did its thing here, rotating the image so it fits better on the page.

You can’t do it any easier than that.

Pretty neat, eh?

Copyright 2008-2022 Christian Boyce. All rights reserved.

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