Scripting Safari's Export to PDF function on a Mac

By 0x7df, Sun 06 August 2017, modified Sun 06 August 2017, in category Misc

Safari has an 'Export to PDF...' item in the 'File' menu which, if you use it a lot, is something worth automating.

Thanks to this thread on MacScripter this is easy to do using AppleScript.

Create script

First create the AppleScript script using the native Script Editor app.

  1. Open 'Launchpad' and begin typing 'script editor' into the search bar at the top to find this app. Photo
  2. Paste the following script:

    set SaveFolderPath to "~/Documents/Test_PDF_Save_Folder/"
    tell application "Safari" to activate
    tell application "System Events"
        tell process "Safari"
            click menu item "Show Reader" of menu "View" of menu bar 1
            click menu item "Export as PDF…" of menu "File" of menu bar 1
            repeat until exists sheet 1 of window 1
                delay 0.02
            end repeat
            keystroke "g" using {command down, shift down}
            repeat until exists sheet 1 of sheet 1 of window 1
                delay 0.02
            end repeat
            tell sheet 1 of sheet 1 of window 1
                set value of text field 1 to SaveFolderPath
                click button "Go"
            end tell
            click button "save" of sheet 1 of window 1
            click menu item "Close Tab" of menu "File" of menu bar 1
        end tell
    end tell

    into the Script Editor: Photo This is slightly different from the script at this thread, in that it hard-wires a save folder instead of bringing up a dialogue box each time, and also that it puts the web page into reader view before exporting it.

  3. Save the script somewhere, e.g. ~/Documents/Test_PDF_Save_Folder/safari_export_PDF.scpt

This script can be run from the command line:

osascript ~/Documents/Test_PDF_Save_Folder/safari_export_PDF.scpt

to export the currently active tab in Safari to a PDF in the specified location.

Create a keyboard shortcut

For extra convenience a keyboard shortcut can be created to run the script. This uses the 'Automator' app.

  1. Start typing 'automator' into the Launchpad search bar: Photo
  2. Select 'Service' Photo
  3. In the automator app, drag the 'Run shell script' item over to the main panel
  4. Add the osascript ~/Documents/Test_PDF_Save_Folder/safari_export_PDF.scpt command Photo
  5. Save the workflow. The default save location is ~/Library/Services.
  6. In the 'System Preferences', go to 'Keyboard', 'Shortcuts', select 'Services', and select the recently-saved workflow Photo
  7. Choose a shortcut: in this example Shift-Command-E has been chosen


Now, after reading an article in Safari, pressing Shift-Command-E saves a PDF version of the article in the folder specified, and closes the tab.


I found this script was broken after upgrading from El Capitan to Safari.

System Events got an error: Can’t get text field 1 of sheet 1 of sheet 1 of
window 1 of process "Safari". Invalid index.

Solving this required downloading XCode to make available the Accessibility Inspector, which allows you to point and click on graphical interfaces to get information on the UI elements. It turns out the text field is now a combo box, and changing that in the script got it working again.


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