Printing to a PDF File in Windows 10

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 9, 2020)


In order to create a PDF file in older versions of Windows, you needed to install a special printer driver or a third-party utility that handled the PDF file creation for you. While you can still take that route with Windows 10, it is interesting to note that Microsoft has finally included a built-in ability to create a PDF using any application's Print capabilities.

For instance, if you are using Microsoft Word, you can easily create a PDF of your document by following these steps:

  1. Open the document you want to use as the basis of your PDF file.
  2. Press Ctrl+P to display the Print options.
  3. Using the Printer drop-down list, chose Microsoft Print to PDF. (Basically, this tells Windows to use the built-in printer driver that creates your PDF file.)
  4. Click the Print button. Windows asks you where you want to save the PDF file.
  5. Specify a location and name for the PDF file you are creating.
  6. Click the Save button. The PDF file is generated and saved to disk, after which you are returned to Word.

It is just as easy to create PDFs in other applications, as well. For instance, here's how to do so in Notepad:

  1. Press Ctrl+P. Notepad displays the Print dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Print dialog box.

  3. In the printers shown at the top of the dialog box, choose Microsoft Print to PDF.
  4. Click the Print button. Windows displays the Save Print Output As dialog box.
  5. Using the tools in the dialog box, specify a location and name for the PDF file you are creating.
  6. Click the Save button. The PDF file is generated and saved to disk, after which you are returned to Notepad.

That's it—the built-in PDF creator is treated like any other printer driver in Windows, and you can use that flexibility to create PDFs from just about anything that can print, all without installing additional software.

Remember that if you later want to print to a regular printer, you should check to make sure that your application is sending output to the appropriate printer driver.

 This tip (13443) applies to Windows 10.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is one less than 2?

2020-03-10 12:59:18

David H

In regards to MS Word, does anyone know if it's preferable to use Word's built-in "Save as PDF" option vs this tip where you choose "print" and then specifiy the "MS Print to PDF" driver? Do both accomplish identical results? Or does one render the pdf file better than the other?
Thank you.

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