Apple's Pages and PDF

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Some weeks ago I mentioned that I was putting together my daughter’s preschool yearbook with Apple’s Pages. That yearbook is nearly finished and I’ll sum up my experience in two words:

Never again.

As this space isn’t intended as a place to air my gripes, I’ll quickly skip over any invective I may have devoted to Pages and instead concentrate on a valuable lesson learned. That lesson is that saving Pages documents as PDF files can be fraught with danger. It’s like this:

If you use Pages to export a file as a PDF document, you’ll discover that any shadows you’ve applied will disappear when the file is opened in Adobe Acrobat Reader. Likewise, no shadows print. Although I haven’t used transparencies in my file, others on the Apple Discussion Forums have mentioned that transparencies don’t seem to work either.

Shadows do appear and print in Preview, however. While this is perfectly swell if you print your files at home, it’s little consolation if you take your files to a printer who, quite naturally, prints from Acrobat rather than Preview.

Thankfully there’s a workaround.

When you’re ready to save your Pages document, avoid the temptation to use the Export or Print command to save your file as a PDF. Instead, if you’re running a version of the Mac OS X prior to Tiger, choose File > Print. In the sheet that appears choose Output Options from the third pop-up menu and then PostScript from the Format pop-up menu that appears. Click Save to dismiss this window and then Save again to Save the file. If you’re running Tiger select File > Print and in the resulting sheet click the PDF button, choose Save PDF as PostScript command, and click the Print button.

Now that you have a PostScript file, open it in Preview, where it will be converted to a PDF file. Once there, chose File > Save As and save the file. Although this may seem like you’re unnecessarily going over the same ground twice, saving the file as a PostScript document and then converting it to a PDF within Preview makes the file behave properly in Acrobat. When I did this, the shadows that appeared in Pages and Preview finally made their way to Acrobat as well.

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