A Virtual Printer for OS X


Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Image by Aeternitas. via Flickr

A few weeks ago I discovered the CUPS-PDF package for OS X. This package installs a virtual printer in OS X that prints PDF files to a directory. Why do this when you can "Save as PDF"? Because hitting one button is easier that hitting severa and selecting a directory. For 90% of the PDF printing I do, it's exactly what I need and for the other 10% it's no more work than the standard way.

When I discovered it, I tweeted something about it. Then I upgraded to Snow Leopard and it stopped working and I couldn't even remember the name of the thing. I had to do a little research to find the information I was after, so in an effort to not lose it again, I decided to blog it.

If you install the current package (2.4.6.1) you'll need to change a few things to make it work under Snow Leopard (via this Mac OS X Hint):

  • Change the permission so the executable to 700:
    sudo chmod 700 /usr/libexec/cups/backend/cups-pdf
    
    It should also be owned by root and in the group wheel. At this point, when you try to add the printer, it should show up as CUPS-PDF and you should be able to add it.
  • Because of the new application sandboxes in Snow Leopard, you won't be able to write to the default location (a folder in your HOME directory). So, you'll need to change the configuration to print somewhere else (like /var/spool/cups-pdf). In the file /etc/cups/cups-pdf.conf, change Out ${HOME}/Desktop/cups-pdf/ to Out /var/spool/cups-pdf/${USER}
  • I don't like having to navigate into the /var directory with Finder (not convinient), so I created an alias on my Desktop to this folder. There might be a better way to do it, but I printed something, moved the folder that got created (Out /var/spool/cups-pdf/${USER}) to my Desktop, created an alias, and then moved it back. Just using ln from the command line didn't create anything that Finder recognized.