I can't for the life of me figure out how to print a selected email to PDF using Automator.

Example - iTunes invoice arrives as email text (not an attachment) and I want to save it as a PDF to a specified folder for tax time.

How do I print a selected email to PDF using Automator?

  • 2
    Thanks for the detailed responses Ash and Mankoff but I didn't put my question correctly. I am trying to avoid going to the print dialogue box in the first place. I can get Automator to file a document (the 2nd half of the workflow) but I want it to open the email and do the "print to PDF" part automatically. It's the open/command P/go to drop down.....part that is tedious. My plan is to highlight the email in list and have a keyboard trigger to start the workflow. – Visitor82 May 2 '12 at 9:37
  • your welcome, happens to me all the time ;-) – Roger May 3 '12 at 22:06

I think you can do it if you combine it with Apple Script. There is no print action for emails. But you can call a applescript.

You could even combine it with (mail) rules. So when for example you see 'invoice' in the header or body, you start a applescript that automatically prints and saves it to a folder.

Im not really into applescript, but have a look here:


  • Thanks, that's what I suspected, needs applescript and you found what I couldn't, well played Rogier ! – Visitor82 May 2 '12 at 9:44

You're on the right track, and @mankoff's answer is spot on. I'll elaborate in case you need more details.

For reference, you could read Apple's developer document on PDF workflows or, more simply, this great step-by-step guide to creating the sort of PDF workflow you want.

As a summary...

  • First open Automator and create a Print Plugin.

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  • Then select an action to move your PDF to a folder of your choice.

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  • Save the workflow with a meaningful name. It will automatically be placed in the correct folder (~/Library/PDF Services).

  • Now, when you are in Mail, you can select your workflow from the PDF menu of the Print dialog box. Your PDF will be generated and automatically filed in the folder you specified.

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  • Thanks for the link to the developer doc Ash, will be a worthwhile read ! – Visitor82 May 2 '12 at 9:41

Make your script and put it in /Library/PDF Services/ or ~Library/PDF Services/. Then, from anywhere, Print (CMD+P), and select your workflow from the dropdown menu under "PDF".

For example, my workflow takes the name of the file (usually the website name, but sometimes something generic or unhelpful) and appends YYYY-MM-DD-HH-MM.pdf and puts it in the ~/Documents/receipts/ folder.

  • Wow, I had no idea you could customise that list - great tip. – stuffe May 1 '12 at 10:55

For this exact same situation I use an app called Keyboard Maestro. I have created an action in there that runs with a hotkey. I have set it up to print the email and save it as a PDF called RENAME_ME.PDF and put inside my dropbox folder. It then opens the folder for me and I rename the file manually. Download my action, add it to Keyboard Maestro and edit the action to use the correct Dropbox path to suit your needs.

  • Adding the action would add significant value to your answer. If you don't know how (or don't have enough reputation yet), just add a comment with a link to the exported action and "somebody" will do the rest for you. – nohillside Aug 4 '12 at 13:20
  • Thanks Henrik. I do know about Keyboard Maestro but haven't added it to my workflow yet. Nonetheless it would be handy to know it if you get a minute. – Visitor82 Aug 5 '12 at 22:36
  • I added the downloadable action as a link to the answer above. Good luck with it, glad I can help! – Henrik Söderlund Aug 17 '12 at 4:44

I found a great way to do this and thought I should share. It doesn't use automator but rather a mac keyboard shortcut.

I found it on the MacSparky blog so I will just link to that for a full and elegant explanation.....



Here's a keyboard shortcut I use for creating PDFs quickly. Select a file, email, webpage, (hit command, p, p), done:


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    Answers on Ask Different need to be more than just a link. It's okay to include a link, but please summarize or excerpt it in the answer. The idea is to make the answer stand alone. – nohillside Oct 10 '16 at 8:14

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