Printing to PDF hasn’t always been easy in Windows. MacOS and Linux users have had a PDF printer included by default for more than a decade, and a number of browsers have made it a cinch for a while now. But don’t worry: Microsoft did eventually add the feature to Windows 10, and now it should be activated by default.
Here is our comprehensive rundown of how to print to PDF in Windows. We also have other helpful guides too, including how to password protect a PDF, convert a PDF to Excel, and combine PDF files.
Using native tools in Windows 10
Step 1: Go to print your document as you normally would, and select Microsoft Print To PDF as your printer.
Step 2: You’ll be asked where you’d like to save the resulting file. Choose the location and a name and click OK. After a few seconds, you’ll have a brand-new PDF.
If for whatever reason Microsoft Print To PDF isn’t listed as an option, don’t fret: It’s easy to set up.
Setting up Microsoft Print To PDF
Step 1: Navigate to the Windows 10 Settings page, which you can find in the Start menu or search for from the search bar. Once there, click on Devices.
Step 2: Once in Devices, select the Printers & scanners section on the left menu. If you have the print to PDF option, you should see it here with the list of your potential printing options. If you don’t see it, select the option that says Add a printer or scanner.
Step 3: From there, Windows will attempt to find your elusive printer, and it won’t work (although it may well find other local printers). When it’s finished, select the option that says The printer that I want isn’t listed. This will open a secondary window with options for finding printers. At the bottom, you should see an option to Add a local printer or network printer with manual settings. Select this.
Step 4: In the next window, open the drop-down menu beside Use an existing port, select FILE: (Print to File), and click Next.
Step 5: In the following window, choose Microsoft as the manufacturer, then scroll down to highlight Microsoft Print To PDF before hitting Next again.
Step 6: When given the choice to replace the current driver or use the driver already installed, we recommend simply using the current driver and selecting Next.
Step 7: After Windows 10 prompts you to name the print-to-PDF feature — we recommend just assigning it the default name so it’s easier to find — click Next one last time to install the desired printer.
Step 8: With the function now available for use, simply open the document or web page you wish to convert to PDF and navigate to the Print function. When prompted, select Microsoft Print to PDF in the list of printer destinations and click Print to convert the file to PDF.
Step 9: If done correctly, the page will immediately ask you where you’d like to save the PDF document and to give the file a name. Simply choose a save location on your storage drive, give it a unique name, and hit Save to create your PDF. Once saved, use one of these PDF editors to make any changes, if need be.
Using a third-party application
Although the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system makes it very easy to print to PDF in Windows 10, older versions of Windows may not, and users may want access to more advanced options when it comes to controlling their print-to-PDF settings. In these cases, third-party software can offer an alternative way to “print” your documents into PDF form.
If you have Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer, you’ve got another print-to-PDF option. This is great for those using Windows 7 or 8 because neither operating system comes pre-installed with a PDF printer. Although it’s an expensive tool, there is a free trial available for those looking for a short-term solution.
Once installed, head to the document printer as you usually would and select Adobe PDF as your printer.
Click Print or Save, then name your document and choose a save location for the resulting file. From here, you can do what you like with it — you can even turn your PDF into a JPEG.
For those of you without Adobe Acrobat or Windows 10, rest assured you can still print to PDF with the right PDF converter, even if the process is a bit trickier. We recommend the free converter doPDF, which you can download from the developer’s official website.
We prefer this software because, unlike similar software, it doesn’t force you to download any random add-ons or malware. It also works with both Windows 7 and the newest iterations of Windows 8, as well as Windows 10.
When you get to the website, simply click the green Download Now! button, which is located directly beneath Free PDF Converter. There’s also a paid commercial version available, which features overlays, digital signatures, encryption, and more.
Once the download is finish, access your Downloads folder and run the doPDF installer — it will appear as an executable file. Afterward, install the optional add-on for Microsoft Office, or uncheck the box to stick with the basics (recommended).
Step 1: Launch the application as you would any other piece of software. In the tabs at the top, make sure that are you are Create one document. Here you will see a section that says Create PDF immediately. The printer selection should be automatically set to doPDF, which you can leave as is.
Step 2: Click the Browse button and choose which file you’d like to convert to PDF.
Step 3: Once you’ve selected a file, click Create and choose a save location for your new PDF. Then, click OK to finish. Keep in mind, doPDF has also created a “printer” option that you can select in other documents to create a PDF version of them, similar to how the Microsoft Word option works.