Thursday, November 20, 2008

...if I don't have Distiller

The only reliable way I know to produce high quality CMYK separated PDFs from Pages is to process documents through PostScript to Acrobat Distiller.

So, what if I don't have Distiller? Numerous readers of this blog have asked me this question. I asked it myself when I was looking at Pages three years ago. I am still not aware of another way to produce CMYK separated PDFs without Distiller.

I can suggest a workaround though:

- 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.

Nevertheless I agree with those who complain that 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.

To read other articles on producing professional print quality PDFs from Pages please click here: Pages and professional printing on this blog.


  1. I appreciate all your info on this, as I have been making my way into creating more complex graphics on pages and got stuck right here! I notice this post is from a couple years ago... is it still the case that I need distiller for my postscripts?


  2. thanks for your comment, Muse.

    Yes, I am afraid the situation is still as it was when I wrote this post.

    Please let me know if you find a different way to process Pages to CMYK PDFs. I know that in the past two or three years new printing technologies have allowed CMYK PDFs to go straight to printing presses eliminating film and a few other stages, but it still doesn't help with bridging Pages and pres quality PDFs.

    Thanks, again


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