Save PDF to iBooks is okay, but Create PDF would be even better in iOS 11!

When Apple introduced AirPrint to iOS, they made it incredibly easy to send files right from your iPhone or iPad to any compatible Wi-Fi printer in the vicinity. What the original version was lacking, though, was Print to PDF. Apple recently fixed that by adding "Save PDF to iBooks" to the Share Sheet, but it forces iBooks into the process and offers barely any options. Here's hoping iOS 11 can make it better!

State of the PDF

You don't hear about Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) files very often these days. Originally meant as a way to digitally render printed pages, they never proved dynamic and flexible enough for the web. But for many professions and many industries, they remain a staple. And for many people, PDF files are something they have to deal with all day, every day.

iOS makes it possible now, and with App Store apps, it even makes it powerful. But for casual use, the built-in support is still cumbersome.

Here's how the current Save PDF to iBooks feature works:

  1. Go to the content you want to save as a PDF.
  2. Tap the Share button.
  3. Tap Save PDF to iBooks.
  4. Go to the PDF in iBooks.
  5. Tap the Share button.
  6. Choose Email.
  7. Email the PDF to yourself.
  8. Open Mail.
  9. Open the email containing your PDF.
  10. Tap the Share button.
  11. Choose the share option you want to use.

If you have an iPhone 6s or iPhone 7 with 3D Touch, you can do it much faster.

  1. Go to the content you want to save as a PDF.
  2. Tap the Print button.
  3. Press firmly (3D Touch) on the preview to pop it into a full-screen PDF.
  4. Tap on the Share button.
  5. Choose the share option you want to use.

It saves a lot of steps, but it's not at all intuitive, and it's not available to anyone with any other iPhone, or any iPad at all.

A better PDFuture

iOS was built on macOS which, in part, was built on PDF. As such, PDF should just work. With that in mind, here's what I'd love to see:

  1. Go to the content you want to save as a PDF.
  2. Tap the Share button.
  3. Tap Create PDF.
  4. Tap on the Share button.
  5. Choose the share option you want to use.

With that you could still get "Send to iBooks", but also "Copy", "Send to Notes", "Mail", or anything else available from the Share Sheet.

No intermediation, no lack of discoverability. Just easy, first-class PDF creation on iOS the way we've had it on Mac for years. The circle, complete.

Your PDF wish list?

How would you like to see PDFs handled in iOS 11? Let me know your wish list.

I've filed this feature request with Apple. Anyone with access can view — or dupe! — at rdar://28766039.