PDF to graphic on Mac without Adobe

16 May, 2024

I had what for me was a common problem, a PDF page that scrolled off the screen for which I needed a graphic capture.

Searching for a solution will typically result in suggestions of Adobe Acrobat Pro, which I do not have, or purchasing advanced screen grab software, which I didn't want to do.

The Grab app that comes with OS X doesn't pick up content that is off-screen. And even if it would grab the entire window, with part of it off-screen, that wouldn't necessarily work, because often the part of the window that is below the fold is not rendered until above it...so there's nothing to grab.

To cut through it all ... here is a solution using a utility that comes with OS X: Preview. If your PDF file has only 1 page, skip to step 6.

  1. Open the PDF in Preview
  2. File -> Print
  3. Under Pages, select a page to print by having the From/To page numbers be that page number. Be sure that the radio button for From/To is selected, and that you have tabbed out (doing so sets the To page number to the From page number, by default)
  4. Click PDF at the bottom left of the window
  5. Select Save as PDF. Set Save As to the title you want, and Where to the correct path. Keep in mind that this file will be a single page PDF that you only need temporarily. Click Save
  6. Open the PDF file that you just created in Preview. You'll see by scrolling that it is a single page
  7. File -> Export...
  8. Change the Format to whichever graphic format you wish. If needed, change the file name and path as well. Click Save

All done!

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