Friday, August 29, 2008

From Pages to CMYK PDFs

The key here is to use the PostScript stage when converting Pages documents to PDF. Simple Export to PDF will not work with professional printers who use CMYK (four colour) separation.

- 'Print' Pages to PS
- launch Acrobat Distiller and process your PS files through Distiller

Acrobat Distiller has several settings. Choose Press Quality or Prepress, whichever settings are available in your version of Acrobat. Here is a summary of my settings which have given me consistently good results for over a year now:

- Under General set Resolution to 2400 dots per inch;
- Under Images set Sampling off and resolution for color and grayscale to 300 pixels per inch and 1200 pixels for monochrome;
- Under Color: Settings file none, Color management policies: set to 'Convert All Colors to CMYK';
- Under Fonts: check Embed all fonts checkbox.

These should give you CMYK ready PDFs and keep your printer happy.

If you regularly use the same printer, I strongly suggest that you arrange a session with them to synchronise all your settings. It's easy to overlook a minor difference in settings which can result in serious problems at one of the later stages in the printing process.

Most printers use specialised computer service companies to fine-tune their machines and processes. Find out who they use, get in touch with them and ask them to run through your workflow and settings.

I also highly recommend Enfocus Pitstop software which works like an extended set of tools to Adobe Acrobat. It allows you to convert your PDFs to CMYK in one go and thoroughly check the prepress quality of your PDFs.

Nearly two years ago I described a different process of creating press quality PDFs using Colorsync in an article on this blog . The Colorsync process worked great for me in the early stages of my project and allowed to produce good quality PDFs. However, with the iWork/Pages version 3 (2008) I found that there is no need for it. It is enough to Print a Pages document to PostScript and process it through Acrobat Distiller with Press Quality settings to create a CMYK separated PDF.

A linked list of other articles dealing with CMYK and PDF on this blog is here.

Read more in my new book 'iWork for Mac OSX Cookbook' (2012), follow me on Twitter at iworkinpages, like my page I Work in Pages on Facebook and add me to your circles on Google+


  1. But what if you're using Pages '08 but don't have Distiller?

  2. Thank you for your comment -

    I asked myself exactly the same question when I was looking at Pages three years ago. I am not aware of a way to produce CMYK separated PDFs without Distiller.

    I can suggest two workarounds to you:

    - if you need CMYK PDFs for a one-off, occasional project save your Pages document to PostScript, put it on a USB stick, CD or similar and take the PS files to a friend with full Acrobat Pro suite which includes Distiller. A computer service/shop or a small professional printer may do the distilling and colour separation from PS files for you for a reasonable fee;
    - if your project is of a continuous, long term nature - periodical print publication, posters, cards etc., my advice would be - get yourself full professional Acrobat/Distiller suite. I've just looked it up on Amazon - Pro version 9 could be as low as 200 dollars. When I did costings for my magazine I found that even after upgrading my Mac to Tiger, installing additional RAM (Pages are very RAM hungry!) and buying Acrobat Pro, I'd spend about half of what I'd have to had I chosen InDesign or Quark.

    And the ease of learning Pages, their elegance and intuitive behavior are a big factor too.

    I agree with you though, there is a missing link between Pages and professional printing. Export to PDF or 'printing' to PDF with Preview is only good for small series digital printing, but not for bigger printshops which require four colour separation.

    I see you landed on From Pages to CMYK PDFs page which is, in fact, a follow-up to my previous articles on producing professional print quality PDFs from Pages. To read other articles on the subject please click on the first link in the side bar list of links: Pages and professional printing on this blog.


  3. Kathryn8:22 pm

    Hi there, I found your post really helpful for getting a printer-friendly version, but I can't seem to get a PDF that doesn't have problems.

    The organization I work for is getting ready to distribute a big 100+ page report tomorrow and the electronic copy is not cooperating.

    When I convert from Pages directly to PDF there's a black background on most of the graphs (it's a statistical report so a lot of graphs!), and when I go through Pages to PostScript to Acrobat Distiller the bars on the graphs have jagged edges and the numbers are really blurry.

    Any thoughts for us at the 11th hour?

  4. Kathryn, hi
    I am working late today too.
    Your problem may be in the colour of the text - check that it is pure black, not composite Apple Mac black (Licorice) - this may solve the problem.
    If you have Skype you may Skype me at

  5. Kathryn9:51 pm

    Hi again, thanks so much for your note.

    I'm not quite sure on how to check the colour of the text.

    I made all the graphs in Numbers and copied them into Pages. The odd thing is some have problems in the PDF (black background when it should be white), while others made the exact same way have no problem.

    I spoke to Apple and they said they're aware of the problem and there's nothing else that can be done except opening the PDF in preview (where it looks fine, the problem is in Adobe Reader) and saving each page one by one as a JPEG and then putting the JPEGs into a new pages document and converting to PDF again. Sounds like a laborious task for a 110 page document though!

  6. Kathryn, hi,
    - check colour in the Colur Panel - click on sliders icon, then on the drop down menu and choose CMYK. When you see four CMYK sliders, reduce the first three to zero and increase the last one, black, to 100 percent. That's for text.
    - If you distribute your report electronically, why not 'Print' to JPEG the whole document, instead of PDF. This option is in the print dialogue window - bottom left, click on PDF and choose 'Print PDF to iPhoto'.
    I'm not sure how to deal with the black background problem, as I haven't encountered it.
    Hope this helps.

  7. Kathryn1:41 am

    Hi again Alexander, thanks again for your help, I really appreciate it.

    I'm still running into problems with the document, it's a mystery to me but I'm still really hoping to find a solution.

    I tried saving each page as a JPEG and putting them into Pages and resaving as a PDF which worked fine but the document is 45MB (10x what is was before) so way too big to distribute.

    Not sure if you would consider this but is there any way I could send you a 1-page document with an example of the graphs that isn't converting to a black background, and one that is to see if there's something I'm missing, I'd really appreciate the help.

  8. Kathryn hi,
    - to email a Pages document as PDF choose PDF>Mail PDF option from the print dialogue window. You should get a mailable sized document.
    - please do send a problem page. I have used Numbers to create graphs and charts which I later pasted into Pages. It worked without any problems.
    Send your Numbers or Pages document resaved as .zip to

  9. Alexander,

    Very happy to meet someone else who works in pages. I am in the process of printing a book that has been exclusively designed in Pages.

    Question for you...

    I have a document sized at 9x11.5", and it exports to the correct size when I export as pdf. However, when I export as postscript, it keeps truncating the document size, sometimes to 8.5x11", or to 8.25x11.68". I am taking the post script through Distiller to produce the pdf. When I see the pdf, it has the right and bottom side cropped... I cannot for the life of me seem to figure out the correct combination of steps to have post script export exactly what pages is showing.


    Please get back to me as soon as possible! Deadlines!


  10. And I think I just figured it out.

    After 4 hours of clicking...

    made a new printer profile, selected adobe 8.0 pdf as the printer, and then from pages used that to select post script.

    it exported in any size i wanted.


    thanks for the inspiration anyway!

    love your work,

  11. Francisco, hi,

    - first of all, check if Adobe Printer is selected, not some other printer
    - see if 'shrink to paper size' or 'fit to printer margins' is NOT selected

    I had a similar problem a while ago - some PDFs just scaled down by a certain percentage for no obvious reason, while others didn't. I got rid of this problem by remaking from scratch all Pages docs that created this scale down problelm.

    Hope this helps.


  12. oh, I see you figured it out yourself!
    Well done.
    When I'm stuck I keep telling myself: look for a simple solution. Most problems have one.
    Cheers, Alex

  13. Anonymous2:05 am

    This site has been a huge help, thanks! I have just one question. If I have a RGB image in my document will it also be converted to CMYK when I use Distiller?

    Thanks for the help!

  14. Yes, it will.
    you can check your press-ready PDF in Acrobat under Advanced>Preflight.
    When Preflight pane opens find settings you want to check and run preflight. You will get a detailed report on your document.
    Good luck with your project,

  15. This helped a lot, but one problem took a while to clear: fuzzy text.

    Any text on a shadow must be moved to the front. Otherwise it's fine exported as a pdf, but fuzzy as a ps.

  16. Thanks for this pointer, Ken.

    Also: use 100 percent black for text if your project goes to preofessional printers. Composite black (Licorice) comes out slightly fuzzy.

    Question I couldn't find an answer to: using bullets with shadows (drawing pins, for example) creates vertical fuzzy line which distorts the text in its path. You can't send bullets to the back, can you?
    The best I could do is minimize the distortion by setting intervals between paragraphs to 8 points and more.
    Thanks, Alex

  17. pentimento7:10 am

    I am having problems with a transparent png logo becoming blurry when it goes through the process. I have sized it correctly (not resizing in Pages). Looks good in pages but does not look good after ps and distiller.
    I tried changing the images setting to compression off but it is still coming out blurry in the pdf. Any ideas? Thanks SO much!

  18. Wendi, hi,

    Check these:
    - the size of logo in KB and DPI. For internet use much lower sizes (30-50 KB) are ok and even better for faster loading. These small sizes come out blurry in print even when the DPI (or pixel) count is 300. For good print quality you need a chunky file of 400-500 KB at least. See if you can get the logo in larger KB size from whoever made it originally.
    If not try processing the PNG file via Distiller separately BEFORE importing the image into the Pages document. Then import the logo in PDF. PDF are crisper and retain image quality better then other types of files. You can check DPI count in Acrobart or in Preview under Tools menu or press Command+i

    - downsize PNG image (from 4x4 to 2x2) and Distill it in that size. Then try increasing the size of PDF (from 2x2 to 4x4)

    - shadows. Check if your PNG image has shadows. Pages sometimes struggle with shadows producing blurred effect. If you can remove shadows altogether, or increase the Wrap count to largest possible it may help.

    - Check Distiller settings. DPI count is the most important setting - it should be 300 at the lowest. The settings I give in this article have provided me with consistently good results.

    Hope this helps.

    You have a nice web-site - good photos. Have a look at my Normandy Photos blog at

    Best wishes,

  19. I am having two problems with saving to postscript first compared to saving directly to PDF. First, the drop shadows do not look as nice. They seem to be darker and have less of that beautiful smooth gradient. Second, text over images are fuzzy, albeit the texts also have a drop shadow (though they are not *on* a drop shadow as far as I can tell) so that might contribute to the problem. Also, the color looks flatter and duller, but I assume that's part of the process of converting to CMYK.

    I was also wondering, couldn't you simply select "Adobe PDF" as the printer and print? Wouldn't that send the document directly to the Distiller? I haven't actually tried printing it, but the digital version looks the same on the monitor.

  20. Paul, hi
    yes, shadows create text blur. It is a problem in Pages. I've been struggling with this for years. Two things help:
    - increase wrap count as much as possible so that text is set away from shadows.
    - increase dpi count in your distiller settings.

    Ask your printer to do a test printout with your PDFs. You may find that blurring which seems unacceptable on screen is hardly visible on paper.
    I regularly use drawing pin icons for lists (Text Inspector>List>Image Buttons). They have shadows which make text blurred. To make it less noticeable I set the text as far from the buttons as the layout permits.

    Re you second question: I don't think it would work. You need to create a PDF. Selecting Adobe PDF as the printer won't create it - you need to go through distiller to create your new document.

    Hope this helps.


  21. Doug Gilmore4:13 pm


    First let me say what a great help your blog has been. I am using Pages and Keynote to create everything from letterhead to video titles to animated banner ads. So I was thrilled to find someone using Pages rather than InDesign or Quark to create professional work like your guides. I love the savings in money and learning time. Now, let me get to my problem. (Like my segway?)

    So I have a 6"x11" postcard I have designed in Pages that I need to send to the printer in CMYK. I followed your instructions about Saving to PostScript. When I go to Acrobat Distiller to make a PDF it comes out as a 8.5"x11" page in portait rather than a 6"x11" landscape. I have checked the Page Setup and it is the correct Custom Page size I setup. Even if I use Preview to make the PDF from the PS file it comes out the wrong size. I am using Pages 09 and Snow Leopard 10.6.4. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.

  22. thanks for the kind words, let me have a think, but first check your Adobe printer settings.

  23. Doug Gilmore5:46 am

    Well I don't actually have Adobe Acrobat on the mac side. It is running in Windows on Parallels. I don't think the problem is in the conversion, I think it is in the creation of the PS file, because Preview creates the PDF with the same outcome. I also tried just creating just a generic postscript printer and printing to that to create the PS file, but I can't find a way to tell it where to save the file.

  24. Doug, hi,
    I think I figured out what happens with your card.

    First, I tried recreating your problem:
    - you open a Pages document, say the Birthday Card template set in A4 format.
    - then you change Page Setup, let's say from A4 to A5 and Orientation to Landscape;
    - click Print, choose Save file as Postscript... and process via Acrobat Distiller - only to get A4 again

    is this, roughly, what happens?

    Now, here's what I've done to get the landscape PDF:

    - click Page Setup in Document Inspector (or from File menu)
    - in 'Format for' choose Adobe PDF and in 'Paper Size' drop-down menu choose 'Manage Custom Sizes';
    - 'Custom Page Sizes' dialogue opens,
    at the bottom of the left column click plus sign to create new page format with dimensions of your card,
    double click 'untitled' to name it, say 'Doug's Card',
    then, on the right, type in your dimensions 11" wide x 6" high (mine are set in cm, but it doesn't matter),
    set margins the way you want them to be, but remember to allow 3 mm (0.12") for printer's edge-cut, click ok;
    - now, in Page Setup dialogue, make sure that in Paper Size drop-down menu, 'Doug's Card' is selected and click ok. Your Pages document should change to the format you created;
    - next, process your card from Pages to CMYK PDF via Postscript, but DO NOT click Landscape in Page Setup, your dimensions will be preserved in the new PDF document.

    I've tried it just now, with your dimensions, and it works. Let me know if this helped, please.

  25. Doug Gilmore9:36 pm


    Thanks so much for your help. Didn't know you had signed up to do tech support, did you? :-)

    I tried to follow your process above, but get stuck at "Format for". I don't have Acrobat on the mac (only on windows through Parallels virtual machine) so my only options in the drop down box on "Format for" are:

    Any Printer
    HP Officejet Pro K550
    Print & Fax Preferences

    I tried using both the HP printer and Any Printer making the custom page sizes and so on, but it still comes out letter size in the wrong orientation.

    I thought I would even save some frustration by setting up a trial version of Acrobat for the mac, but they only do trials for Windows!?!?!

  26. Doug, hi,
    do it for 'Any Printer' then.
    What matters is to set dimensions for the original Pages document in
    Document Inspector>Page Setup>Paper Size>Manage Custom Sizes>Custom Page Sizes and select them in Page Setup. It's the third drop down menu.

    I've just checked it again, it works with Preview as well.

    When I started I also had the problem of not having Acrobat. See my suggestions in reply to someone else's comments above, or read 'What if I don't have Distiller' post' on this blog.

  27. Doug Gilmore6:09 pm


    I finally fixed it! Are you ready for this? I was making the Custom Paper Size 11" wide x 6" high and it never would come out correct. When I switched it to 6" wide x 11" high and put it in landscape mode it finally worked!! Now it comes out correctly, just the PDF created has the wrong orientation. I don't think that should be a problem for the printer, but if I open it in Acrobat and rotate the page so it is facing the right way and save it will that affect all the CMYK and DPI settings I setup in Distiller? Should I just leave it and see if the printer has a problem with it? Thanks so much for your time working with me on this.

  28. Priyam S9:51 pm


    First of all, I'd like to say you have a great site and I have just spent the last 6 hours trying to use it to help me work out some issues.

    I have a very similar problem to Doug Gilmore and Francisco d'Anconia...

    So I'm currently trying to create a magazine in Pages, for which my page size settings need to be at 21.5cm x 30.7cm (including the margins for bleed, etc) and that I need to send to the printers in CMYK.

    I have followed your instructions for saving the file in Pages as a postscript, then opening it in Adobe Distiller and creating a pdf in Press Quality. The problem is, as soon as I do this, the pdf I get has one third of the top of my page cut off entirely.

    I followed your instructions earlier about making sure in Page Setup, under the Page Size menu, I have selected my saved Custom Settings - that is as per instruction. I have also gone into the Inspector palette and adjusted the Page Setup there, as you told Doug to. I have noticed that here, under Format For, I don't get the option for Adobe Printer...instead I get Any Printer.

    I even went so far as to try and change the settings in Adobe Distiller by going to Settings > Edit Adobe PDF Settings > General > Default Page Size (at the bottom) and then adjusting the width and height to the required 21.5cm x 30.7cm.

    STILL when I make my PDF from the Postscript file, the top third of my page is chopped off.

    Please help me - my magazine has to go into print in 8 days and I just realised all the pages have now to be tweaked to fix this problem! I feel so stupid, unable to figure this out.

  29. Do all pages have the same problem?

    - first of all, in print dialogue check if 'scale to fit paper size' is NOT checked. It is under Paper Handling in the drop-down menu which usually begins with Layout.
    - then, check that the magazine paper size is indeed selected when you 'print' to PostScript, you may need to select it again.
    - you say you have Distiller, so I assume you have Acrobat? Then you should have an option to add Adobe PDF Printer (it's not a real printer, just an option).
    - To add Acrobat PDF printer, click on Page Setup in Document Inspector, then click on Any Printer and on Print and Fax Preferences. And when Print and Fax window opens click on the plus sign in the bottom left of the window. It should give you the option of adding Adobe PDF printer. Select it and add to your Printer options. Check if the problem persists.

    - If it does, try repeating the process with a new Pages document set to the magazine dimensions. If the PDF is okay, there could be some bug in the magazine pages. I had once a set of corrupt fonts, that caused a similar problem. Then you'll have to recreate the magazine page by page checking them until you come to the one that causes the problem. Ditch it and recreate it from scratch.

    See if this helps.

  30. Priyam S11:37 am


    Thanks for getting back to me. I've just tried everything you've mentioned, and I even tried redesigning one of the pages from scratch and saving it as a new document and still I'm having the same problem.

    Also - I do have Acrobat, but for some reason, I am unable to add Adobe Printer in my Print & Fax Settings. Lol. I'm beginning to think it's just my laptop or something now.

    Just had an idea - if in Distiller I go to under Edit Adobe PDF Settings, I create and name a new setting as per my criteria, with these settings:

    General - I'm unchecking Optimise for Fast Web View; Res at 2400 dots per inch
    Images - Switching ALL Sampling and Compression off
    Colour - Convert all colours to CMYK

    Then what if in Pages, I go to File > Print, and then instead of Saving as .ps, I save it as an Adobe PDF, and then select the new setting I created under Adobe PDF Settings? When I do that my page comes out correct and in the correct dimensions, and in CMYK.

    Would that work? Or am I missing some other glaringly obvious problem?

  31. No, that's excellent! Well done for finding that workflow. Save as Adobe PDF is a new option that didn't exist in Pages'08.

    I strongly suggest sending the printers a sample PDF to check it for CMYK and other stuff, as I recommend in the post. Modern presses have PDF-to-plate technology, so having a good PDF becomes even more important.

    Good luck with the magazine and let me know how it goes. I shall do a separate blog post on your findings.

  32. Priyam S11:45 pm

    Thanks, Alex - I will definitely keep you updated, and you might hear from me even sooner in case (God forbid) I run into any more trouble!

  33. Anonymous3:33 pm

    Ok... I need to convert my pages pdf to one with CMYK to send to the printer. I don't have acrobat. I did download the trial version of Pitstop Connect, but I cannot find anywhere to attach to file. I am very confused. I have looked through the help page and i am very unfamiliar with the lingo it is using.

    Can you help me?


  34. Christy, hi
    if you use one of the latest versions of Pages, press Command (the key with the Apple logo) and type P. That opens the print dialogue window. In the bottom left corner there is a PDF button, click on it and in the drop-down menu there should be an Adobe PDF option. Choose it and see get a PDF that you can send to the printers.
    See it that works.
    If you use an earlier version, open print dialogue and in PDF options choose Save as PostScript. Send the PostScript file to the printers asking them to convert it to PDF for you. Most printers would do that, some will charge for this additional work.
    Hope this helps.

  35. Help Please ....I have created 30 pages in Pages for a book for printing but how do I convert from RGB to Cmyk?...I am using a Mac,I do not have Acrobat Distiller....could anyone tell me what I can do.I have used the method of PRINT-POSTSCRIPT AND THEN PDF-but how do I change the colour codes for the printers who know nothing about pages???Most of these pages I have done are covered in photos that are RGB.
    Please help
    Thank you Michele

  36. Michele,

    without going into technical details, I think your best bet would be to go to the printers with your book in PostScript files and ask them to process it for you. They may charge an additional fee, but you'll save yourself a lot of frustration.

    Independent printers, not frnachisees, are usually willing to do that for clients as competition is high.

    If that is not realistic find a small computer shop/service nearby and ask them if they would process your files for you.

    You don't say if you were actually told that you need CMYK? Digital printing may not require CMYK separation.

    Re. photos: it is not so much RGB/CMYK, but the DPI count of the photos. It should be 300. If you are not sure, just have a look at the size of your JPEG files: for a reasonable quality in A4/A5 format you need 500Kb and above.

    Hope this helps.

  37. Anonymous8:08 pm


    First of all, I would like to thank you for this amazing blog, it helped me a lot in many ways. I am a "pages" user and although it's easy to use, sometimes you need some support. I find it in your web and your comments.

    Like many others mates above, I am trying to create a magazine. I am using pages in spite everybody told me to use Indesign. Pages it's easy and gives the documents an unique look.

    The printer asked me for a pdf in cmyk. I use pages '09. I followed all of your instructions and read all the comments. I created a PS and then I process it through the distiller. But a white band appears around the document. I tried to change the sizes but didn't work.

    Here you can see the screen shot:

    I don't know what to do. I have to tell you that the Distiller I use is not in my mac. I use a Windows Distiller in my father's computer.

    I also tried to set up an adobe printer but I couldn't. Adobe doesn't have Acrobat Trial Version.

    Thank you for all your help. I'll never can pay you back ;)))




    1. just replied to your question in a separate comment.
      Can I use your photo - image of the pdf for a post here?

    2. Anonymous9:23 am

      Of course,

      It will be a pleasure!!!! :)))

      Thanks again!



  38. ah, that looks familiar. I had this problem with the magazine.

    First of all, if you have other documents, check if the same thing happens to all of them. In my magazine, out of 32 pages two or three suddenly started producing PDFs that 'scaled down' - appeared smaller with a white band of empty space around a section of the PDF.

    If other documents appear ok, then there is some bug hiding in the document - a code, a corrupt font, something else that you don't even realise is there.

    To get rid of it, create a new document from scratch, and reproduce the elements of your design in the new document. Process via Distiller and see if the problem is gone.

    Try making PDFs stage by stage - create the coloured shape and make a PDF, import the photo - and make the PDF, type in text - and make the PDF. Check at what stage this 'scaling down' occurs.

    In my case it was a corrupt font. I deleted it from the Font Library and then reinstalled a fresh file with the same font.

    If this doesn't help, try using someone else's Distiller, the printers' for example, to see if the problem is with Distiller.

    And of course the simplest solution is to crop your PDF as you have it. Cut out the white band and only leave your document. Acrobat has a Crop Document tool.

    And another trick: import you PDF with the white band into a new Pages document, resize it so that it fills the whole page, and produce a new PDF from that document. That's what one of my printers did when I had this problem and just took the 'scaled down' PDFs to them - they 'scaled it up' without reprocessing or doing anything else to it.

    Read this earlier post from 2007 about the corrupt font problem:

    Hope this helps.

    1. Anonymous9:22 am

      I will try this when I get home,

      Thanks a lot! I will explain later! ;)))

      Thank you again,



  39. Color management policies: set to 'Convert All Colors to CMYK...

    there is no option for covert all colors to cmyk... howerver there is an option
    "tag everything for color management (no conversion)

  40. Will this work with latest version of pages and Acrobat?

    1. yes, it does.
      In the latest OSX you can produce press-ready Acrobat PDFs straight from iWork documents (not just Pages). Provided of course that you have Adobe Acrobat installed.
      There is an extended menu.

  41. Hi Alex,

    First of all, thanks tons for the valuable information on this blog! My PDF, produced by Pages, was recently rejected by CreateSpace and your suggestion of first generating the PS file in Pages (and converting this to PDF using specialist software) seems to have put me on the right track.

    Second, I've also noticed that generally you recommend using Acrobat Distiller for the conversion from PS to PDF. I'm wondering if you've ever explored Tex, which is free. For instance, a Tex utility called "PS2PDF" converts PS files to PDF. Any thoughts?

    cheers, Luc

    1. I'm glad it worked!

      Well, I 'discovered' this technique in 2005, and it has been reliable ever since, but of course things change. I don't know Tex. Have you tried it? Does it work?
      Your report is very interesting, thank you for this.

  42. Hi Alex,

    From memory, here's a synopsis of what I've done:

    I installed the full MacTex-2013 distribution from

    On my Mac, I can invoke a utility called PS2PDF in Terminal (under Applications > Utilities).

    I can add parameters to specify the page size, embed the fonts, etc. E.g. the following command generates a PDF:

    ps2pdf -dCompatibilityLevel=1.3 -dDEVICEWIDTHPOINTS=576 -dDEVICEHEIGHTPOINTS=726 -dFIXEDMEDIA -dEmbedAllFonts=true

    I think the PDF is automatically flattened, too.

    In the back end, PS2PDF is built on Ghostscript, an interpreter for PS and PDF - see e.g.

    I can't confirm yet whether this solved my PDF issues on CreateSpace, as I haven't uploaded the new file yet. I'll let you know in a few days.

    But as a process, the above might be an alternative to using Acrobat Distiller.

    1. Thank you, this is excellent news. I will publish this as a separate article here.

      Please let me know how it turns out at CreateSpace.

    2. Hi Alex,

      The process I described above seems to have worked alright.

      The Pages (source) file is pretty big (744 Mb) as it contains lots of images.

      The PDF that Pages generates is about 250 Mb – and was rejected by CreateSpace. ("We are unable to process the interior file as it is corrupt or too complex. Please ensure all layers and transparencies are flattened and that it is a valid PDF.")

      I then followed your suggestion of going from Pages > PostScript > PDF.

      The PostScript file from Pages is 284 Mb. When converting this to PDF – using PS2PDF – the resulting file is only 12.6 Mb. This PDF was accepted by CreateSpace.

      The only thing I couldn't get to work is the implementation of 'true black', as described elsewhere on your blog. PS2PDF returned an error. So I kept the default Pages CMYK settings for black.

      I'd be interested in your findings if you decide to experiment with this also.

    3. Thanks Luc,
      This sounds very encouraging. I'll be looking into the process shortly.

  43. Hi to all Mac users. I have been recently presented with a project by my boss to produce a magazine for my place of work. We have Macs in a room within the building but these have only been used for music projects up til now. I am a novice in this area even though I am used to using Pages on my ipad. I'm aware of Adobe In Design but feel it is bit expensive!. Have any of you designed magazines on your Macs before and what software has proven to be the best in your opinion?


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