Print non-contiguous pages in Leopard’s Preview

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One of the handy new features in the OS X 10.5 version of Preview—I’m pretty sure this is 10.5-only, at least—is the ability to selectively print pages directly from Preview. While you can use the Print dialog in any program to print one or a range of pages, you can’t use it to print a non-contiguous selection of pages—say pages two, four and five, and nine. But using Preview, you can do just that.

Open your multi-page PDF in Preview, hold down the Command key, and click on each page you’d like to print. With more than one page selected, the File -> Print menu item changes to read File -> Print Selected Pages. Choose that, or just press Command-P, and you’ll print the selected pages.

This trick proves really useful when printing Web pages. When I want to print something from the Web, I always first print it to a PDF, to see how it’s going to look, because some Web sites don’t print well at all. But once you’re in Preview, there’s no access to the Print dialog; if you click the Print button, the print job starts. By using the Command-click trick, you can choose exactly which of the site’s pages you’d like to print, right from Preview.

But what if you want to print just one page from the Web site? You might think you could Command-click on that one page and select Print…but that won’t work. With just one page selected, Preview will revert to printing the entire document. If you had access to the Print dialog, this wouldn’t be a problem…but because you printed to a PDF, you don’t.

The solution? Hold down Command and click on every page except the one you want to print, then hit Command-Delete. This will delete the selected pages, leaving just the one page you want to print. Please note that if you’re doing this on a file you’ve saved, you do not want to save the changes you’ve made—if you do, the pages you deleted will be gone for good! (But really, in the case of a saved document, you should just use the Print dialog to specify the one page you want to print.)

So the next time you need to print a non-contiguous range of pages—or just one page from a Web site—in Preview, use the Command key to get the (print) job done.

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