Printing to PDF

Reader Matthew sent us the following suggestion:

When you buy something online and the site says “Print this receipt page for your records” print it to the PDF printer instead of paper. You can print it out later if you must, and you have it as a record of your order number or parcel tracking number.

Matthew’s suggestion is terrific especially since you don’t need to have a full version of Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional to print to PDF.

On a Mac, go to File > Print, and then click on the PDF button in the lower left hand corner of the pop-up window. The PDF print software comes installed.

On a PC, download and install CutePDF Writer. The program is free and allows you to print straight to PDF through the print function.

On a Linux box, you’ll want to set up a CUPS open printer installation. And, as is the beauty of open source, it’s also free.

Thank you, Matthew, for your suggestion of another way to keep paper from cluttering up our offices!

29 Comments for “Printing to PDF”

  1. posted by Emma on

    Good idea. Make sure you delete the pdf when the order arrives – to cut down on computer clutter too!

  2. posted by Thomas Pedersen on

    You can also look for free, open source alternatives to Acrobat at I think it mentions PDFCreator.

  3. posted by Robert 'Groby' Blum on

    The PDF button on the Mac also has the handy option to ‘Save PDF to Web Receipts Folder’ – that way, all your receipts can be filed in the same place without any extra effort on your part.

  4. posted by QL girl on

    That’s brilliant! I’ve printed documents to PDF before, but it never occured to me to do this with confirmation pages. Not only is it great when you don’t have immediate access to a printer, but it also cuts down on waste!

    I use CutePDF on my home computer and its really easy to use.

  5. posted by Dream Mom DBA on

    PDF files are great however I have an easier way. When I make a purchase on-line, I never print it. Instead, I click, “Send link by e-mail” and send it to myself. In my e-mail, I have a folder called, “Subscription Confirmations” and I keep it there. Once it arrives, I delete. That way, it’s out of my inbox and I have the information I need without wasting paper. I can open the e-mail at any time and click on the tracking information should I need it.

    Also, I keep another file called, “On-line Retailer Promotions” in my e-mail. Whenever I get a coupon or notification of a sale, and I think I might use it, I simply put the file in there. On errand day, I simply go into that file and I can access what I need. This is especially great at Christmas when I get deluged with promotions.

  6. posted by Billygoat on

    I prefer PDFCreator because it is a single install package and is not only free of cost, but is Free as-in speech. It is licensed under the GPL, meaning the user is Free to use it as they see fit and modify it if they wish.

  7. posted by Amy on

    there’s also a plugin you can download for microsoft office 2007 that allows you to “Save As” pdf or xps. Like everything with microsoft, however, you have to have a copy of Office that validates using the genuine advantage tool.

    sorry for the gigantic link there

  8. posted by Scarlett on

    I use the print to PDF function exactly for this. I sue it for travel confirmations too and just keep folder for each kind of transaction.

  9. posted by Shawn on

    PrimoPDF is another option for free PDF creation.

  10. posted by Ann at One Bag Nation on

    This post couldn’t have been more timely. I just now placed an order online and went through my usual “do I really need to print or even save this?” routine, especially since I’m trying so hard to reduce clutter and waste in my life.

    Thanks for the tips!

  11. posted by Brad on

    If you’re on a Mac there is a PDF management software called Yep ( You can install a bookmarklet in your browser that will turn any web page into a PDF and send it to your Yep for tagging and organizing.

  12. posted by Matthew on

    Hello, Reader Matthew here. A good link for figuring out Linux CUPS printing to PDF is here:

    (aimed at Ubuntu, but probably portable)

    I can second Emma’s comment about deleting the PDF later – I just deleted 12 Xmas present receipts – from 2006! Also, the GPL route for Windows is much nicer.

  13. posted by Joy on

    I do this with all order confirmations and confirmations of online payments. I save them all to a folder called pending transactions. I label them with the payment date and account. So if my Sears CC payment will be deducted from my checking account on April 20, I save the file as 20AprilSears. It makes it very easy for me to make sure deductions were made and to see what will be coming out when. Then I just delete as soon as the order arrives (with an invoice) or the debit (for payments) posts to my account.

  14. posted by Chris on

    I love this and do this all the time. I did all my taxes on the computer. At the the end it tells you to print everything for your records and found print to PDF here. I also found that I can password protect these files so that can not be viewed or copied or moved. I love it this is great. I now use this all the time. I also take screen shots or little snaps of certain areas of information like my login Info for later. I am now using this more often. Why print to paper anymore except those family pictures there is no point.

  15. posted by Ann on

    I use “print to PDF” to save my (free) credit reports from Sure beats all that wasted paper!

  16. posted by catherine on

    What I do is take a screen capture (open apple, shift, 3 on the Mac or Print Screen on the PC) and save it to a file on the desktop. Then when the transaction goes through, I delete the file.

    This is mostly helpful when you just need to record the confirmation number, not the whole document…

  17. posted by subash on

    I simply use Google notebook plug in for Firefox and do a “clip this” or select, cut and paste as a clip

    That way all of the numbers are in search-able form in Google notebook ( I create a notebook called confirmation numbers and receipts) and I can search by name of utility provider etc. or simply browse through the receipts.

    The Google notebook plug-in sits conveniently in the status bar and also provides for right click menu items for clip this

  18. posted by spark on

    I’m with Catherine on this too….print screen works just as well, and you don’t have to download anything. Good post.

  19. posted by Brittany on

    Once I have things saved in PDFs- not even just confirmations, but lengthy documents I do not want to print out, reference-file materials to save, and such – I keep them organized in Yep ( ), which is the best, most intuitive thing designed for these occasions.

    I have even managed to get my mother using Yep on her home computer to scan-and-save years of travel and cooking magazine clippings she used to keep in baskets, which I consider my life’s greatest triumph on behalf of technology and a major endorsement of the ease and efficiency of the program.

  20. posted by Michael Henreckson on

    I’ve been printing to PDF for years and it is a total lifesaver. Another big benefit is that Quicken supports attaching PDFs as receipt/bill images. It makes it a lot easier to see what exactly you were buying with each transaction because you can just quickly look up the attachment.

  21. posted by julia on

    I’ve been doing this awhile, too. As well as scanning in physical paper forms/receipts/bills I don’t need to have on paper. They are all stored as PDF.

    Speaking of Quicken, there is a home inventory program where you can attach files as PDF or images such as receipts to prove what you bought, when and how much it cost for insurance purposes. No need to have paper clutter, just file it all away in Quicken (and then save a backup copy off-site!)

    The nice thing about saving as a PDF is that the contents are then searchable. You can use the Adobe Acrobat search feature to scan all your PDFs for specific content inside them. Try searching through a pile of papers for a specific word!

  22. posted by Elena on

    I usually just save the webpage as a file for future reference. File, Save as, name the file, file type “html” basic. That way it saves the entire page and allows me to see things beyond the bottom of the screen.

  23. posted by Cyphase on

    I use the Scrapbook extension for Firefox for things like online receipts ( ), but as for Linux, many distros have built-in support for printing to PDF (I know Ubuntu does for sure). No set up required.

  24. posted by Nat on

    Another good one for Firefox (a bit like Scrapbook) is the Fireshot plugin. Does the same as scapbook but it saves the page as a graphics file (jpg of png from memory).

  25. posted by Peter on

    I’ve been doing this for receipts for online bill paying since last year. It never occurred to me that this was being…Uncluttered (duh!). The PDF files cover pretty much any online transactions I make.

  26. posted by Tenali on

    If you don’t want to install a PDF writer, even if free, you can still save a “confirmation Page” or any webpage for that matter by going to File > Save As, and then from the drop down box “Save as type” (under ‘File name’), choose Web Archive, Single File (*.mht).

    Any webpage can be saved like this in a single file on your deskop or any other folder without the need to print.

  27. posted by Tatiana on

    I love using pdf files for recipes. Now, rather than printing out recipes I find online, I just print to a pdf. I even scan recipes from magazines & newspapers. So much better than all those crazy binders full of cutouts and printouts.

    As for online order confirmations, I generally leave the confirmation page open until the confirmation email arrives (they usually come pretty quickly). I keep the emails in an Outlook folder called “Order Confirmations”, and then move the email to a subfolder called “Received” when the item arrives, and until I reconcile my credit card statement. This way, I can see what orders haven’t arrived yet.

  28. posted by SajiNoKami on

    I understand the whole “save as pdf”
    that show up in the print dialogue boxes,
    but what if I want to print to pdf?
    as though it was a selectable printer…

    any ideas?

  29. posted by Larraine on

    I use Mozilla Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. It has a reputation for being able to withstand a lot of the things that Explorer is subject to. So far it has worked well. You can get a lot of add-ons and one of them is called Web to PDF. By the way, Firefox is a free download as well.

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