Printing PDF – The Ultimate Guide

There are some ins and outs, which should be considered when printing one or multiple PDF documents at once. In this guide, we'll review different aspects of PDF printing.

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Printing PDF – The Ultimate Guide

Basic print settings

These are basic print settings you can specify when printing office documents, including PDF files. These settings are available in most scenarios – if you print via standard Windows Print dialog, Acrobat Reader, a web browser, a PDF viewer or other software:

Option Description
Copies Specifies the number of copies of the document to be printed
Duplex printing Enables double-sided printing mode, i.e., printing on both sides of the paper
Orientation Defines page orientation – portrait or landscape
Collation Allows taking multiple different pages and putting them together into a complete set 
Pages per sheet Specifies how many pages should be printed on a sheet of paper 
Paper size Determines paper size (page format), e.g., A4
Paper type Specifies the type of paper, e.g., Light 60-74g
Paper tray Specifies paper tray (paper source) if your printer has different trays
Color mode Sets printing in color or grayscale (black and white) printing
Page autorotation Enables rotation of pages within each sheet according to their width and height
Page scaling Defines the positioning and scaling of PDF pages on sheets of paper.

These are the most common parameters, and we'll cover more details on duplex printing, grayscale printing, printing password-protected PDFs, printing PDF with comments, and batch printing. 

Printing PDF in duplex (double-sided printing) 

To save paper and improve the readability of printouts, you can print PDF double sided if your printer supports this feature. Double-sided printing is also called duplex, back to back, front and back, printing on both sides of the paper or two-sided printing. Depending on your printer model or software, there are usually three options for this mode:

  • Simplex – Printing on one side of the paper only;
  • Long-edge binding – Paper is printed on both sides, in portrait orientation so that pages turn along the long edge. The document will resemble a booklet with pages that can be flipped from left to right (if page orientation is portrait);
  • Short-edge binding – Paper is printed on both sides, in landscape orientation so that pages turn along the short edge. The output document will look like a top-bound notebook (if page orientation is portrait). 

Printing PDF in duplex (double-sided printing)

How to print double sided in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader

If you use Adobe Acrobat DC or Adobe Reader DC, these options are called Flip on long edge and Flip on short edge accordingly: 

Print PDF in duplex via Adobe Acrobat DC or Adobe Reader DC

To set PDF printing to double sided in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader, follow these steps:

  1. Open the document;
  2. Go to File > Print (or press Ctrl + P);
  3. Select the necessary printer;
  4. Check the box next to Print on both sides of paper and select Flip on long edge or Flip on short edge (see illustration above);
  5. Using Orientation, set page orientation to Portrait or Landscape (if necessary);
  6. Click Print.

Flip on long edge (Long-edge binding) is best when printing a regular double-sided document on portrait orientation, whereas Flip on short edge (Short-edge binding) is best for printing documents on landscape orientation.

If the Print on both sides of paper option does not appear in this dialog box, open the printer properties (Properties button) to directly access this option from your printer.

Duplex batch printing of multiple PDFs

In Print Conductor, you can set up this parameter by going to Settings > Advanced > Duplex and select between Long-edge binding or Short-edge binding (or keep printer default setting). 

Two-sided printing of multiple PDF documents at once

Many multi-function printers (MFPs) allow the printing on both sides manually or automatically – for a single multipage document. But what if there are 10, 20, 100 PDFs to print? Print Conductor can save time, especially when it comes to processing many PDF files at once. Besides, print settings can be applied to all files in the list or individual items only.

Try duplex batch printing with Print Conductor

Setting your printer to double-sided printing

An alternative method is to set the duplex mode in your printer settings. This is the right choice if your printer already has some saved configuration (e.g., CMYK or RGB color mode). 

How to automate duplex printing via Printer Properties

  1. Open Print Conductor and select a printer that you want to use;
  2. Add the necessary files to the List of Documents;
  3. Set two-sided printing in your print device. Press the Printer Properties button in Print Conductor and enable duplex mode in the printer settings. To do it, find the option "Two-sided (duplex) printing" or a setting with a similar name (depends on printer model);
  4. In Print Conductor, go to Settings > Advanced;
  5. Find Duplex mode and set it to As in printer;
  6. Click OK and start batch printing by clicking the Start Printing button.

Note: If you cannot see the duplex option in the Printer Properties, check your printing preferences first. Open Control panel > Devices and printers and right-click the printer you're using. Select Printing preferences and open the Printing shortcuts tab. There you will see Print on both sides or a similar option which can be turned on.

Printing PDF in black and white

Printing documents in black and white is a good practice if your company policies allow you to do so. This can help save color ink/toner and, especially in combination with Draft mode, can save money on printer consumables.

Printing in black and white mode is simple, requiring an easy change of printer settings. Many color printers provide this option in the Printer Properties dialog box, i.e., it is available in the print dialog box. 

It depends on the PDF viewer or software that you use, but the standard scenario is to:

  1. Open the PDF document; 
  2. Go to File > Print… (or press Ctrl + P on your keyboard); Open printer properties to print PDF in black and white You will see the print dialog box. Make changes here, if necessary.
  3. Click the Properties… (or Printer Properties / Printing Preferences) button; Printing PDF in grayscale / black and white mode
  4. Find Color Options section and select Print in grayscale. Choosing Grayscale, High Quality will result in high-quality black and white printouts.
  5. Click OK and/or Print in further dialog windows.

Note: If you use Reader and Acrobat Standard, these applications do not have a black and white print option. It is suggested to turn on black and white mode through the print dialog box.

How to batch print PDF in grayscale mode

To process multiple PDF files and have them printed in grayscale (shades of grey) mode, just turn on Grayscale printing in Print Conductor.

How to batch print PDF in grayscale mode

Alternatively, if your printer lets you print PDFs black and white via printer settings (or you have a specific color profile saved in your device settings), you should set Color mode to As in printer in Print Conductor Settings > Advanced

Batch print in black and white using Print Conductor

Difference between grayscale and monochrome printing

It's easy to get confused when you see different options in the printer settings: print in monochrome and print in shades of gray (also known as grayscale or composite gray). 

Black and white (monochrome) prints all of the non-white colors in your PDF file as black, resulting in a simple monochrome printout. It has only two "colors", black and white (black ink/toner and no ink/toner). 

Grayscale (composite gray) contains a combination of gray tones between black and white only. In provides a smoother image compared to monochrome, a continuous scale from black to white, with some halftone screen to get various shades of gray. This method is used in most modern multi-functional printers.

The difference between grayscale and monochrome printing

Printing secured PDF (password-protected PDF)

When a PDF document is created and saved, it can be encrypted with a password for security or other reasons by the author. For example, with Adobe Acrobat, you can set a password to single or multiple PDF files (via the Security Envelope tool). Some batch printing software like Print Conductor has an option to enter one or more passwords before the print session so that the program can print multiple secured PDFs without any problem.

How to print a secured PDF file without password

Tip: if you have a PDF document restricted from printing, and there is no way to unlock it using a password, try this method: 

  1. Upload the PDF file to a Google Drive folder
  2. Double click the uploaded file 
  3. Click the printer icon (Print) in the top right corner

Now the file is accessible for printing via the standard Google Drive print dialog. It also can be saved to PDF again, and the saved copy will not have restrictions from printing.

How to print multiple locked PDF files

If you need to print several password-protected PDF files, you can use Print Conductor.

You can find this option in Settings > Advanced > Password list and enter a password (or passwords, each one on a separate line):

Print multiple password-protected PDFs in batch mode

Printing PDF with comments & mark-ups (annotations)

PDF documents or PDF Portfolio files can contain comments and mark-ups (annotations) made by users. Comments and annotations are contained on a layer over the PDF page.  Different PDF viewers have a variety of printing options for printing comments and annotations. 

How to print comments in a PDF

You can print comments either as a list on the summary page or in place (like text highlights or sticky notes on each page). You can print PDFs with comments and mark-ups so that they appear on printouts from Acrobat or Reader. Find the Comments and Forms section in the print dialog window.

To print a PDF with comments on a summary page, follow these steps:

  1. Open a document and click File > Print
  2. Select Document and Markups under the Comments & Forms section
  3. Click Summarize Comments
  4. Click Print

There are also other ways to set up the printing of comments and annotations. Alternatively, you can use the Flatten Markups option to merge the mark-ups into the PDF content, which ensures that they will always print from within Acrobat and other PDF viewers.

How to print multiple PDF files without annotations

With Print Conductor, the printing of multiple documents is automated. So PDF annotations can be turned on/off for all added file by checking or unchecking the Draw annotations option:

Printing PDF with comments & mark-ups (annotations)

Printing multiple PDF pages on a single sheet

You can print more than one page of a PDF onto a single sheet of paper. It's the right option to use if you need to print, e.g., multiple pages, images, or slides per sheet in PDFs. This feature is also called N-up printing (such as 2-up or 6-up); you can select a custom number up to 99. You can specify how the pages are ordered: either horizontally across the page or in vertical columns.

Printing multiple PDF pages on a sheet

Note: The print settings of Acrobat or another PDF viewer don’t reflect the N-up settings of the printer drivers. Select the multiple pages options either in Acrobat or in the printer driver, but not both.

If you don't use Acrobat but another PDF viewer,  there is a way to set the multiple-pages-per-sheet mode in the print dialog box. To do it, follow these steps:

  1. Open the PDF document;
  2. Go to File > Print… (or press Ctrl + P on your keyboard);
  3. Open Properties… (Printer Properties / Printing Preferences);
  4. Find the Pages per sheet setting (or a setting with a similar name); Printing multiple pages per sheet
  5. Select Page order (if available) and set the number of pages;
  6. Click OK and/or Print in further dialog windows.

How to batch print with multiple pages on one sheet of paper

Printing several PDF pages on the same sheet of paper and processing multiple files at the same time can be automated with Print Conductor. 

How to batch print with multiple pages on one sheet of paper

This way, you can print two or more pages per sheet. The necessary parameters can be adjusted under the Multiple pages per sheet section in Settings > Advanced.

Note: this feature works with multipage documents only. So if you have several separate files, you should combine them into a multipage document first. You can do it using a file converter with a merge feature, such as DocuFreezer or Universal Document Converter

Bulk printing of files with several pages per sheet is possible not only for PDF files but for other multipage documents too. Learn more about batch printing with multiple pages per sheet with Print Conductor.

Batch printing multiple PDF files at once

Batch printing PDF can be very advantageous. With the right application (such as Print Conductor or FolderMill), you can easily send different filetypes – Excel, Word, PowerPoint, or PDF – and send them to the printer as a single print job. It comes in handy when, e.g., you need to quickly print a set of files that requires the use of all of these different formats or many various PDF documents. Another advantage of this approach is that you don't need to open each file manually and thus can save much time.

Try PDF batch printing for free

Print Conductor is available for testing and evaluation and is free for non-commercial purposes.

Get Print Conductor to simplify PDF printing in bulk

Real-time PDF printing using watch folders

If you are looking for a fully automated PDF printing software, FolderMill can become a good Print Conductor alternative. 

FolderMill works by assigning document processing Actions to a certain Windows folder, be it a local or network shared folder. After the initial setup, network users can drop files directly to the "Hot Folder", and their PDF files will be automatically printed or converted.

Real-time PDF printing using watch folders

With FolderMill, you can map PDF and other documents to specific printers or printer trays or send converted files to any destination folder. Besides, there are many options to make the workflows flexible – incoming files can be filtered by paper size, file name, file size, or file extension.

Automate PDF printing in real time with FolderMill

How to print multiple PDF files on Windows

  1. Locate the PDF documents on your computer that you want to print, and move them into one folder;
  2. Hold the Ctrl key and select all the PDF documents that you want to print or Ctrl + A to select all files in a folder;
  3. Right-click the selected PDF files and click Print

Note: This method works with a limitation – you can have selected only up to 15 PDF files at once.

Considering the limitations of the abovementioned method, it's a good idea to use a third-party software designed specifically for batch printing such as Print Conductor. It can print more than 15 files at a time (the number of files per session is unlimited). What is more, it's a great time-saver, since you don't need to open each file in its native application. This program for Windows 10/8/7/XP automates the printing of various files like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, images, emails, PDFs, and many others. The entire process is simple: 

  1. Open Print Conductor;
  2. Add files, an entire folder or an archive with files that you want to print;
  3. Select a printer and make settings if necessary;
  4. Click Start to launch the batch printing process.

How to print more than 15 PDF files at once

The program allows configuring all basic settings in the interface and has additional features too, such as adding cover pages to separate printouts, saving lists of files, printing password-protected PDFs, and more

Learn what settings are available in Print Conductor

How to apply specific print settings to certain PDF files only

Sometimes you may need to modify print settings for a certain group of files in the list and keep others intact. It is possible in Print Conductor. For instance, you can select PDFs only – using Ctrl or Shift button – and change various parameters like the number of copies, duplex mode, printer tray, and more.

How to change print settings for PDF files only

How to print multiple PDF files from Acrobat

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat;
  2. Open Tools on the top panel;
  3. Go to Action Wizard > New action > More tools > Print;
  4. Add Print action to the right-hand pane by clicking the plus icon;
  5. Save action by clicking the Save button and name it as you like;
  6. Click the saved action appeared in the Action list in the right;
  7. Click Add files… or Add folder… button; 
  8. Once the necessary files are added, click Start.

How to combine multiple files to a single PDF

Another option is to merge different files into a single PDF file beforehand. You can combine images, documents, text files, worksheets or PDFs, etc. into one multipage PDF and then just print it. This way, you can print a whole lot of documents very easily. Since all files will be contained within a single file, you'll avoid a situation when print jobs get mixed together (when different employees print their files at the same time on the same printer). 

To combine your files together before printing, we suggest using a PDF merge tool such as Universal Document Converter or DocuFreezer.

How to combine multiple files to a single PDF

DocuFreezer can be very useful, especially if you have several files to be merged into one. Once you have a multipage file you can use Print Conductor to print multiple pages per sheet.

Combine PDF with DocuFreezer

Phrases "print PDF" and "print to PDF" may look similar, but they actually have a different meaning. "Print to PDF" means printing to a file, which implies saving an electronic copy of your file to disk (also called print-to-file function). So, besides physical printers that would print your document on paper, you can use this function to convert a document to PDF from almost any application. To do it, open a document and select File > Print. Then select a virtual printer such as Universal Document Converter or Adobe PDF Printer.

Print to PDF with Universal Document Converter

Save a file to PDF using a virtual printer

Once a virtual printer is selected, you can configure other options by clicking the Properties button (just like you would do with a regular printer) and click Print when ready.

Saving documents as PDF in Google Drive

If you have a document or image uploaded to Google Drive, you can save it to PDF the same way, using the print dialog:

Convert file to PDF from Google Drive

Advantages of the PDF format

PDF (Portable Document Format) is one of the most popular digital formats to create and keep documents nowadays. Many companies use PDFs for saving, viewing, and sharing contracts, applications, customer- and employee-related data, and many other things. The PDF format, developed by the Adobe Systems in the 1990s, stands for Portable Document Format. Initially, there was a need to share documents among different computers and operating systems without losing data and document formatting. Hence, to exchange data in an unaltered way, the PDF file format was created. The PDF format is still being maintained and upgraded with new functions. Below are the main seven advantages why PDF is one of the best formats to use.

Platform-independent

Many applications and environments work with this format, including Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and others. PDF files can be uploaded to a cloud storage and easily shared and viewed on practically any device. Most importantly, the document keeps its original content and formatting unaltered after a file was sent from one system to another or opened in different applications.

Easy to view and exchange

Viewing or sharing PDF files is almost effortless. Many PDF viewers are freely available for doing these tasks. Even a web browser can open a PDF. Hence, you can read those files anywhere – on a computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Editing, however, may not be that easy without having the right tool – a PDF editor.

Can be secured via password protection

Any PDF file can be locked by a password. There are various levels of security you can set to protect a document with sensitive information. This way, you can keep important documents safe by restricting certain features, such as printing, editing, and copying content in the PDF. 

Supports digital signatures and certificates 

PDF or PDF Portfolio files can also be encrypted with a certificate-based signature. When a PDF is protected using a certificate and signed with a digital signature, both the sender and the recipient are sure that documents are exchanged with a high level of security. A valid digital signature confirms the signer's identity and makes sure that a document was not modified after a signature was applied. 

Can be compressed to reduce the file size

To minimize file size, you can compress PDF using Adobe tools or other applications. This can be useful for archival purposes or when you need to comply with specific restrictions regarding file size. Compression of data can be done using different compression algorithms so that you can set the acceptable image quality.

Can contain interactive elements and multimedia 

PDFs can contain various content like texts, images, charts, graphics, hyperlinks, file attachments, and annotations. Even music, SWF animations, and video clips are supported in PDF. This, along with advanced multimedia options, can be helpful when, for example, creating a PDF Portfolio.

Last updated: 2020-11-24