"How Can I Still Create PostScript Files with Acrobat's Adobe PDF from InDesign in Snow Leopard?"

With Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard," Apple introduced an entirely new architecture for print drivers. The new system is designed to provide greater reliability and timeliness in printer support by taking much of it out of the hands of printer manufacturers that, frankly, have never been great at supporting the Mac platform.

With such a major change, though, there were bound to be casualties, and one was Acrobat's Adobe PDF print driver. It simply stopped working. In response, later versions of Acrobat Pro 9 have entirely removed the driver and its associated PostScript Printer Description (PPD) file from Snow Leopard systems. In its place, Acrobat leaves a new "Save as Adobe PDF" item on the PDF menu of the OS X print dialog. And of course, we can still export direct to PDF from within Adobe CS applications like InDesign and Illustrator.

That's all well and good for general use, but it doesn't satisfy every case. For instance, Lightning Source, the POD printer I use for my books, wants my book cover files to be run through Acrobat Distiller, which means first creating PostScript files from InDesign. But without the PPD for Adobe PDF, I have no way to create PostScript for oversize pages like book covers. It should work to choose "Device Independent" instead, but it doesn't. (I've written more about this specific problem on my Publishing Blog.) Users of InDesign's Print Booklet feature have likewise found themselves up a creek.

Fortunately, there are ways to recover Adobe PDF's PPD and make it permanently available to CS apps. Here's the procedure for CS4.

1. Find a copy of ADPDF9.PPD, the PPD file that the latest Acrobat Pro 9 versions remove. You might find it on a backup of your computer at Library > Printers > PPDs > Contents > Resources > en.lproj. (That's starting from the root of your system, not from your user directory.) You can also get it from the Acrobat Pro 9 app itself if you choose "Show Package Contents" from the contextual menu and then go to Contents > MacOS > SelfHealFiles > AdobePDFPrinter > PPDs > Contents > Resources > en.lproj. You might also locate a copy for download from the Web.

2. Place this file in Library > Printers > PPDs > Contents > Resources. (Again, that's starting from the root of your system.) Do NOT place it in the folder en.lproj. Though that will work too, it will move the file farther down on menus, making it harder to find.

3. Rename the file so that Acrobat won't be able to find and remove it again. I suggest something like "Adobe PDF 9.ppd". (That, again, will keep the file high on menus.)

For CS4, that's all you have to do. Now, when you go to print from InDesign and choose "PostScript File" as your printer, you'll be able to choose "Adobe PDF 9.0" from the PPD menu. (You'll see a menu item by that name regardless of what you named the PPD file.)

With CS5, things are a little trickier. InDesign's menu does not show anything from the Mac OS PPD folder unless it's a PPD in a current print queue.

One possible solution for InDesign is to add the PPD file directly to the app's support files. Go to Applications > Adobe InDesign CS5 > Presets. Create a new folder named "PPDs" (case sensitive). Then place your PPD file in this folder. You don't even have to rename it.

The trouble with this method is that you'll have to repeat it if you ever reinstall the program or install a major upgrade. And by then, of course, who knows if you'll be able to find these instructions. So, a better method is to set up the PPD file in a new print queue -- a dummy print queue -- where InDesign can find it. Here's how.

1. Start by following the same procedure as for CS4, locating, installing, and renaming the PPD file.

2. Go to the Print & Fax pane in System Preferences and click on the plus sign to add a printer.

3. Select ANY connected printer from the dialog. Then for "Name," change what's shown to "Adobe PDF" or whatever else you like. From the "Print Using" menu, select "Other," and then choose the PPD file you installed. When you click "Add," you'll get a warning about installing a queue for a printer that already has one. Take a deep breath and click "Continue."

You will now have a print queue with the desired PPD associated with it, in addition to your original queue for that printer. You will not be able to create PDF files with this new queue, but you will be able to access the PPD from InDesign CS5. And that will enable you to create PDFs with pages of any size.

Update, 9/19/2012 -- I think it's time for most of us to hang up the PostScript/Distiller workflow. Lightning Source now accepts direct PDF exports from InDesign. And CS6 PostScript printing is surprisingly buggy. It no longer flips the inside-outside margins on left and right pages! Besides all that, Adobe considers Distiller to be obsolete technology and is no longer developing it.

Time to move on!


  1. Hi Aaron,

    This sounds like a great fix!
    I'll have to try it when I upgrade.
    I'm actually having trouble printing to color separations from InDesign CS2 in Snow Leopard. Any ideas how to fix that one? Actually - the whole program crashes if I even go near the print menu.

    That'll teach me to buy a new mac without checking to see if my software will run right on it.


    Marie Moss

  2. Thank you for your help on this. I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out what was wrong with my Mac. We have your book "Aiming at Amazon" and used it when we published our first book as it had so many helpful tips. We are getting ready to upload our second book to Lightning, so appreciated your workaround so we could do it the same way with the PS file to avoid any problems.

  3. Thank's from Russia! It's working! I couldn't find the right way on russian forums. Now it's time to learn English!
    Maybee you know: is it possible to separate 1 multipage file to many one-page-files (when I'm trying to make ps-file) from InDesign CS5?

    Polina K.

  4. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I have not been able to figure out how to make a Postscript file from InDesign CS5/SnowLeopard, with the correct PPD needed, for a RIP that is not on the network, UNTIL NOW!

  5. I have a brand new Mac and CS5, how can I find a PPD to install since I didn't have previous version. This is really aggravating process and no one at adobe is willing to help.

  6. Lipsmack, CS5 currently includes Acrobat Pro 9, so the instructions above on where to find it in the app itself should still work for you.

  7. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! I have been searching for a solution to this problem for 2 days and was up against my deadline tonight when I found your suggestion. BIG sigh of relief....

  8. Aaron, I'm brand new to Lightning Source and the PDF-X1 format. Can I not use the print to postcript from Microsoft Word for Mac? If InDesign doesn't easily do the job, is there another tool that does? I have to buy something (I guess) so I'd like to find something that isn't too complicated. Any wisdom for a newbee?

  9. Here's a Link to download: http://indesignsecrets.com/downloads/forcedl/ADPDF9.PPD

  10. This problem does not just affect Snow Leopard. It also effects 10.5. Also this fix works with InDesign CS5 and Acrobat Pro 6, 7, 8, and 9. I have all flavors that I had to work with of Acrobat Pro, and the fix worked flawlessly.

    My hatt is off to you good sir. You rock!

  11. Somebody give this man a million dollars!!

  12. Thank you. Adobe updated the software yesterday and it killed it off my computer and now the fix works flawlessly.

  13. I can't find the ppd file on my system. I have a new mac setup. Where can I find this online?

  14. This wouldn't be a problem if you could actually save a PDF in saddle stitch format from Indesign; the closest you get is spreads, but that doesn't work for the covers. I'm unamused.

  15. Hi!

    I have created an App for this (free). It enables the PPDs in InDesign CS4 + CS5.

    Currently it’s only in swedish but it’s kind of self explanatory. You can find the application at http://bit.ly/jDaBQw . Please email me if you are putting it up on any websites or plan to re-distrubute it (You will find my email adress in the application).

    Of course the application mentioned above comes with absolutely no warranty. You can not hold me responsible for anything blablabla.. You know the drill..

  16. WOW!!! Thanks So Much I've been doing my head in trying to work this problem out!

  17. any suggestions for Acrobat 10? I can't find the ppd :(

  18. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

  19. you've saved me from throwing my computer out the window, which, would be diffuclt condering all the windows are tightly shut. just want to drop by and say thanks!

  20. This worked for me, but not completely. I thought I'd go ahead and ask a question in hopes you might be able to help!

    I added the PPD and got everything set up to print to PS and then Distill a PDF. Great.

    However, I'm making my PS's in with CMYK separations and for some reason, the black on some pages (and I've confirmed that it's 100% black and not a rich black) do not come through for the printer - they can't use the PDFs for making plates.

    When I go through the same process on my other computer which is an older OS (Tiger) there is no problem.

    Any solutions? I would be SO grateful if I could find a solution to this! Thanks :)

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. Fabbe's little application is great :)

    I have previously follow Aaron Shepard's 'how to' for Snow Leopard but now as I was having the same problem with InDesign CS5 in Lion I download Fabbe's app and it install straight.
    I got a script error message but it still installed Pdf 8 & 9 printers and I'm now able to save postscipt files from Indesign in Lion.

  23. You are a dead-set champion genius and I will have 10 zillion of your babies. Thank-yo so much!

  24. Thanks, we are looking at switching to Lion (from Leopard) and knew this would be a problem so this is awesome! We also need this for Illustrator, is there a fix (or the same solution) for that too? We are on CS5.

  25. thanks for the simple clear instructions.

  26. This is fab, thank you! Fixed my issues with the whole Creative Suite. I was particularly interested in getting this working for Illustrator and it does. Lori - in the 'print' menu just select Adobe PostScript File in the 'Printer' drop down and Adobe PDF 9.0 (or whatever you called the PPD) in the 'PPD' drop down.

  27. Running Mac OS Lion 10.7.3: Please could someone tell me how to create a PDF Virtual Printer like the one that was available in Adobe's Acrobat 8?

  28. Thanks a lot for your solutions.

    Worked 100%...


  29. THX, great workaround. Installing a virtual printer as you described works for my whole CS5 suite under MAC OSX 10.6.8

  30. Ive just upgraded to CS6 on snow leopard, and this fix worked for me. I followed the instructions before saving out and importing all my print presets.

  31. WOW!!! Thanks So Much I've been doing my head in trying to work this problem out! harga hp

  32. Thanks! now I can use the driver for my imagesetters in CS6.... saves me hours!!

  33. thank you from Istanbul Aaron Shepard....

  34. Just bought a new computer and had to do this again! (yes, still using CS5 and Distiller; old habits...). Thank for keeping this article active.

  35. Its a great pleasure reading your post.Its full of information I am looking for and I love to post a comment that "The content of your post is awesome" Great work.
    adobe indesign training london


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