This question has been asked in regard to Safari, and some six years ago, so i would like to reiterate this with a focus on Pages.

I am trying to understand how it works. If i run File -> Export to -> PDF from Pages and i do a Print -> Save as PDF i get results that to the naked eye show no difference. Filesizes differ though: 97.7 MB and 97.8 MB.

The document i work on has 296 pages, contains hundreds of graphics and pictograms and many hundred line elements, as well as multiple fonts.

Can someone enlighten me in regard to how these two print/export functions work and what the differences are? Because even if i change settings in the Print dialogue before hitting Save to PDF i still get the same result as if i don't make any changes.


1 Answer 1


In short: Not much. The only significant difference between the two is the different options that are displayed in the dialogs in each process.

Export PDF gives you image compression, the ability to include various metadata. enter image description here

"Save As PDF" gives you options to set keywords such as Title, Author, and lets you set Security options.

enter image description here

There may conceivably be slight differences in the way that the PDF is formulated - it's likely that using "Save As PDF" from the print menu will involve the print driver for the selected printer in some way. (Though, for example, note that a mono printer still produces colour PDFs.)

It's all just a conversion from CoreGraphics (which is conceptually similar) to PDF. Apple's PDF-creating routines don't have the latitude and range of options that you find in GhostScript or Distiller.

Comparing two PDFs created by each of the two methods reveals that the data is substantially the same for the vast majority: the differences lie in things like decimal precision of page sizes (again, likely due to page definitions in the print driver).

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