Q&A: Sorting docs printed to PDF

Q I frequently use the Print dialog’s feature to create PDF files, which I sort into different folders such as Insurance, Finance, and the like. To help in this, I have put aliases to those folders in my ~/Library/PDF Services folder. The drawback with this is that I am not given the opportunity to name the PDF file, and have to rename it manually. How can I regain the ability to name PDF files whilst retaining my filing system?

A The reason that your current system does not allow you to choose filenames is that the print system sees your folder aliases as PDF print actions in themselves, so bypasses the rest of the print-to-PDF process including the Save PDF As dialog.

To reinstate that step, you will need to provide a complete script or workflow that can be put in the PDF Services folder, which does invoke the File Save dialog. Although Automator might seem an easy choice for this, it suffers an architectural limitation, in that the plugin would require an action with two inputs, one for the PDF file, the other for the new file name. As Automator plugins have a single input, this is not possible.

So the only straightforward way of implementing this would be with an AppleScript Print Plugin, which can readily display the File Save dialog and default to the folder in which you keep your individual subject folders. Apple provides extensive support for functions that might be useful in developing this script in the Save as Adobe PDF.sdef file that you may have in your /Library/PDF Services folder. Although a non-trivial task, if you already have a smattering of AppleScript it should not be difficult to complete.

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 27 issue 6, 2011.