Creating a PDF with MacOS is a quick and easy process and utilizes the very powerful and often
Preview application which comes built in to MacOS, of which I’m a pretty big fan of.
I recently had to explain an issue with a pretty involved UX flow that had about 10 transitions in state. While a video and voice over could have been used, I needed to actually add a few pointers and other graphics to convey the message correctly. Instead of sending 10 individual files which would be difficult for other stakeholders to work with, having a single PDF document with images in order made a lot of sense.
After getting all the screen grabs and edits done, it is a simple case of selecting all of the
files, then using
Open With > Preview. Instead of opening each of file individually, Preview will
actually combine them all into a single context. This is the default behavior, and if it doesn’t
work, the setting can be found in
Preview > Preferences > Images > Open groups of images in the same window.
After opening the new Preview instance, you are actually able to add new images by dragging files
into the left pane, remove images you don’t want to include by using the
Close functionality, and
re-arrange the order of the files to suit your needs.
After everything is in order, the next step is to use
Export, but doing so only takes the currently viewed image as the image to export.
The reason for Preview doing this is because it still sees each image as an individual document. To combine them into one document, the print functionality needs to be used.
File > Print the dialog to print all images appears and from here, you can select
the PDF context in the bottom left of the print dialog. You can save directly as a PDF here using
Save to PDF option, but it is better to select
Open in Preview. This will open a new Preview
window with the difference being that all images in the new window are in the one document,
instead of multiple documents as per the initial window that was opened. The reason for opening
a new window is that the saving options for the file can be accessed. By selecting
File > Export... there is now access to a Quartz Filter option, and selecting
Reduce File Size
here I’ve found to be a good choice depending on the type of images you are using. Without this
option, the PDFs that are created tend to be quite large and depending on your use case, might not
need to be super high quality.
In my case, adding a PDF to the relevant ticket for the UX bug was a lot easier to work with than uploading 10 different files. It really helped improve the message that I was trying to convey as there was much less friction for users trying to follow the flow I was communicating.