Say I have several Word files in a folder. Is there a way to generate a batch of PDFs from these files?

9 Answers 9


Provided you have MS Word (or any other app that can open MS Word files) installed, you can use Automator. Here is a step by step guide on how to set it up for your needs: http://aseriesoftubes.com/articles/how-to-batch-convert-doc-files-to-pdf-format-using-mac-osx-automator/

Brief overview of the whole process:

  1. Open Automator
  2. Create a new workflow
  3. From the library panel on the left, select Files & Folders then double-click Get Specified Finder Items
  4. Add the all the files to convert
  5. From the library panel, now select Documents, then double click Convert Format of Word Documents
  6. From the dropdown menu, select Portable Document Format (PDF)
  7. Finally, click the Run button, and it will convert all the files and save them in the same folder where the original Word files are.
  • 3
    I don't see this option (Convert Format of Word Documents) in Automator in OS X El Capitan. Did it get removed?
    – n8henrie
    Jul 18, 2016 at 14:30
  • 5
    Office 2016 has dropped Automator support. Could this be the reason you can't see that option?
    – molgar
    Jul 18, 2016 at 15:10
  • I don't see it on Mojave Either. I want to convert mhtml to pdf!
    – chikitin
    Apr 21, 2020 at 23:12

You can use the docx2pdf command line utility to batch convert docx to pdf on macOS (or windows). It uses Microsoft Word's APIs to directly convert to PDF creating a perfect copy. It uses JXA (Javscript for Automation, basically AppleScript in JS) in macOS and win32com in Windows.

pip install docx2pdf
docx2pdf myfolder/

Disclaimer: I wrote this tool after struggling to find a cross-platform solution for batch converting docx to pdf with zero formatting issues since it directly uses Microsoft Word. https://github.com/AlJohri/docx2pdf

  • 4
    Just tried this today in macOS Catalina 10.15.5. There were some pop-up messages in Word that needed to be clicked through in order to make it work, but once I did that, it worked like a charm.
    – Vincent
    Jun 28, 2020 at 2:14
  • 1
    worked well once you click those permissions popups
    – asif-007
    Mar 6, 2021 at 11:02
  • 1
    The popups make this tool barely usable for large numbers of documents.
    – Tea Tree
    Jan 12 at 19:35

One option using the command line would be to use pandoc (which requires LaTeX for PDF generation).

  1. Install pandoc and LaTeX. Because LaTeX is so big, I installed BasicTeX as recommended in the pandoc docs. With Homebrew and Homebrew Cask: brew install pandoc && brew install --cask basictex
  2. Make sure the Word files are in .docx format. If they are in .doc format, you can convert them with OS X's built-in textutil: textutil -convert docx *.doc
  3. On El Capitan you have to add the texbin utilities to your PATH: export PATH=/Library/TeX/texbin:"$PATH"
  4. Convert: pandoc -o myfile.pdf myfile.docx

Because your question was regarding batch converting multiple files, you could easily put this into a loop:

#! /bin/bash
for file in *.doc; do
  textutil -convert docx "$file"

  # Account for the new `x` in `docx`
  pandoc -o "${file%doc}pdf" "${file}x"

Unfortunately Office 2016 and later (including Office 365) no longer supports Automator. You can work around this using AppleScript.

This solution uses:

  • AppleScript to open microsoft word and save as a PDF
  • An Automator Application to wrap the AppleScript
  • Find from the Terminal to find word documents to call the Automator Applicator

The AppleScript script

The purpose of the script is, for the filename passed in, to open the file in word, and then save the file with a .pdf extension instead of .doc or .docx.

on run {input, parameters}
    repeat with aFile in input
        repeat 1 times -- # fake loop

            -- Create the output filename
            tell application "System Events"
                set inputFile to disk item (aFile as text)

                tell (info for input) to set Nm to name
                if (text -5 thru -1 of Nm) is ".docx" then
                    set outputFileName to ((text 1 thru -6 of Nm) & ".pdf")
                else if (text -4 thru -1 of Nm) is ".doc" then
                    -- .doc
                    set outputFileName to ((text 1 thru -5 of Nm) & ".pdf")
                    -- If this isn't a word document, continue to the next file.
                    exit repeat
                end if
            end tell

            -- Open word, save as PDF in default path
            tell application id "com.microsoft.Word"
                open aFile
                tell active document
                    save as it file name outputFileName file format format PDF
                    close saving no
                end tell
                set defaultPath to get default file path file path type documents path
            end tell

            -- Move to output location
            tell application "System Events"
                set outputPath to (container of inputFile)
                set outputFile to disk item outputFileName of folder defaultPath
                move outputFile to outputPath
            end tell
        end repeat
    end repeat
    return input
end run

The Automator Application

  1. Open automator
  2. File / New then select Application
  3. From the actions Library in the left hand nav, select "Run AppleScript" and drag it into the window on the righ
  4. Copy and paste the code above into the Run AppleScript window.
  5. Save the application as "WordToPdf.app" on the Desktop

Calling it from the command line

  1. Open Terminal
  2. Change Directory to the one you wish to run the script in. Note that it is recursive and will process all files in all subdirectories
  3. Run the following code:
     find . -type f \( -iname \*.doc -o -iname \*.docx \) -print0 | while read -d $'\0' file
         automator -i "$file" ~/Desktop/WordToPdf.app
  4. Double check that you are happy, and then optionally remove all of the word documents:
    find . -type f \( -iname \*.doc -o -iname \*.docx \) -exec rm {} \;

Seems like the Automator solution doesn't work anymore.

So there is a simple one.

Install the CUPS-PDF module for OS X. This is a virtual PDF printer that looks like a "real" printer to the system, but creates a PDF file when you send a document to it.


If you make it as your default printer, then you just have to mass select all your files and do "Command" + "P" (shortcut). Mac OSX will open all files, send them to print in pdf, then close them = Simple and it works (on my Mac OS X 10.8.2 Montain Lion)

other tip :

"After you have installed the Virtual Printer using CUPS-PDF, there is a simpler and more powerful way to batch convert any set of documents to PDF files.

Use Printer Setup Utility to create a Desktop Printer icon for the Virtual Printer. After it is created, I put it in my Dock for easy access.

In the Finder, drag your file icons to the Virtual Printer icon. For Microsoft Word documents, Microsoft Word will be opened and instructed to print each document to that printer.

Unlike the Microsoft Word Macro method, you can do this for any other document created by any other program. As necessary, the Finder will open the appropriate application and tell it to print to the Virtual Printer.

There are two mild limitations to this general method.

(1) The files you drag to the printer icon need to be ones that the Mac knows what to do with (i.e. you can double-click to open it in some program on your Mac).

(2) The document's default "Open With" application needs to support the AppleScript command for Print. All well-behaved MacOS X programs do this. NeoOffice for example doesn't, and thus batch converting native NeoOffice documents does not work for this printer icon method."

Source (skip the macro part) : http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=20070315023808642


If you install the open source AbiWord, you can batch convert from the terminal command line, e.g.:

for FILE in "*.doc" ; do abiword --to=pdf "$FILE" ; done


I had a similar situation, namely a folder of .doc (not .docx) files that needed to be batch converted to other formats such as .docx and .pdf using MacOSX 10.15.6 (Catalina). Products such as Doxillion could convert the files but much of the formatting was lost together with some of the text. I found that Pages could open the .doc files and made a pretty good job of maintaining the formatting and content when the files were exported. A solution using Automator and AppleScript to batch convert all .doc files in a folder is given by red_menace in response to question at: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/63803377/identify-path-to-file-in-applescript-script-as-part-of-automator-workflow


Apple Script version to run inside Automator and save on Desktop ConvertedPdf folder (see @dastra in this topic):

on run {input, parameters}

    repeat with aWordFile in input
    -- Get name and extension   
        set theWordFilePath to aWordFile
        tell application "Finder"
            set {theWordFileName, theWordFileExtention} to {name, name extension} of the theWordFilePath
        end tell
        if theWordFileExtention is equal to "rtf" then
        tell application "Microsoft Word"
            open theWordFilePath
            set thePdfFileName to theWordFileName & ".pdf"
            set theNewFilePath to ((path to desktop folder) as string) & "ConvertedPdf:" & thePdfFileName
            set theActiveDoc to the active document
            save as theActiveDoc file format format PDF file name theNewFilePath
            close theActiveDoc saving no
        end tell
        end if
    end repeat
    return input
    end run

    on ConvertedPdfExists()
         set folderConvertedPdf to (path to desktop folder as string) & "ConvertedPdf"
         set askForClean to "Folder ConvertedPdf exists. Should I clean it before processing?" as string
         set askForCreate to "Folder ConvertedPdf does not exist at Desktop. Should I create it?" as string

         tell application "Finder"
         -- Folder exists
         if exists folder folderConvertedPdf then
         -- check if there are some files or folder inside
         set filesList to every file of folder folderConvertedPdf
         set foldersList to every folder of folder folderConvertedPdf
         set filesListSize to count of filesList
         set folderListSize to count of foldersList
         if folderListSize > 0 or filesListSize > 0 then
            display dialog askForClean with icon caution buttons ["No", "Yes"] default button "Yes"
            if the button returned of the result is "Yes" then
                -- clean folder
                delete (every item of folder folderConvertedPdf)
            end if
          end if
             display dialog askForCreate with icon caution buttons ["No", "Yes"] default button "Yes"
             if the button returned of the result is "Yes" then
            make new folder at desktop with properties {name:"ConvertedPdf"}
                display alert "Can't continue without output folder!"
                error number -128
             end if
             end if
    end tell
    end ConvertedPdfExists

Here is a previous answer that should work for this purpose;

Batch-convert Word-documents to PDF's (free)

  • Which one? This question is about OS X.
    – slhck
    Sep 21, 2011 at 13:36
  • Forgot about the "Mac OS X" in the title while answering, so I am not sure which will work with that OS. The Google Docs converter may be the best solution then as it is done online.
    – CharlieRB
    Sep 21, 2011 at 13:57

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