Automator Tip of the Week #3: Convert Word Documents to PDF

By Dan Hinckley

21 responses. »

Automator_512.jpgThis weeks Automator tip of the week focuses on quickly and easily converting the format of your Word documents to PDF by creating a workflow and saving it as a Finder Plugin.

To create an Automator workflow that will take your selected Word documents in a Finder window and convert them to PDF add the following actions:

  1. Get Selected Finder Items – This will tell the automator task to grab all the items you’ve selected in Finder
  2. Copy Finder Items – This will allow you to backup the items before you perform any action on them.
  3. Convert Format of Word Document – Select Portable Document Format (PDF)

Save The Workflow as a Plugin

With these three action items you have everything you need to quickly convert word documents. To make it even easier lets save Automator workflow as a Finder plugin.

  1. Select File
  2. Select Save as Plugin
  3. Name the plugin and Select Plugin for: Finder.

Test Out The New Finder Plugin

I named the plugin Word2PDF and I’m now ready to test our new Finder plugin:

  1. Open a Finder Window and navigate to a folder that contains word documents
  2. Select the word documents and right click (command + click)
  3. Select More, then Automator, and then Word2PDF (Or whatever you named your Finder plugin

Your computer will then automatically convert the Word files to PDF.

About Dan Hinckley
Dan Hinckley is an experienced Mac user who converted to Apple products when they introduced them on Intel Processors. He loves helping others get more out of their devices! Subscribe to to get the latest from Dan and the Maciverse Team!! Find out more about Dan:

21 Responses so far.

  1. dave

    January 27, 2009 at 8:47 am

    your missing one crucial piece of information, that last action "Convert Format of Word Document" doesn't exist standard as an OSX action. You will ONLY have that action with a full install of mid to high end MS Office 08. Most people don't have this installed on their machines, in which this simple task, becomes incredible difficult.

  2. Dan

    January 27, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    You should be able to do this with any of the Office 08 Mac versions. I haven’t attempted with previous versions of Office.

  3. Bryan Loar

    December 11, 2009 at 4:08 am

    @Dan I'm using Office 08 Mac with Word ver 12.1.9

    I've searched my Actions library and I've looked into each category. There is no “Convert Format of Word Document” for Automator ver 2.0.3

    Any thoughts?

    • Dan

      December 13, 2009 at 2:41 pm


      Version 2.1 of automator includes the Word conversion action. I no longer have a previous version of the automator to test and see if there is a problem. Were you able to find a solution?

  4. Melissa

    January 20, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Working great so far – how do I tell it to save to the same folder? It saved them in a weird place? I also want Word to close after it’s done- saw that but am not sure about the save settings. Thanks!

  5. Jeff

    February 23, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Can anyone please post a link to download the "Convert Format of Word Document" action or email it to me. Thanks

  6. Matt

    April 16, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Anyone have a problem with Word 2011 for Mac? It doesn't seem to want to finish the conversion (says that the item doesn't exist?). I think this worked when I used Word 2008, but not anymore!

    • james

      April 21, 2011 at 7:23 am

      same here – seems that this action does not work in mac office 2011 – way to go microsoft!!!

    • sentio

      May 12, 2011 at 6:28 am

      Try this workaround:

      • greig

        May 31, 2011 at 8:10 pm

        bad link, can you post the information here

      • Mirko

        October 5, 2011 at 11:41 am

        it works!!!!! thank u very much!!!

        • Paul

          January 27, 2012 at 11:03 am

          How did you make it work? It does not work for me … I crashes just when converting to pdf …

  7. quiris

    June 2, 2011 at 4:04 am

    The poste above link works now correctly.

  8. Paul

    November 26, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Hi ! I am willing to create a workflow to convert ppt to pdf, how can I do that?

  9. Nicole Foster

    March 31, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    found this to correct issues w/ mac office 2011, but unable to use link above. Please repost solution.

  10. Iraqi Dinar

    June 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Select More, then Automator, and then Word2PDF (Or whatever you named your Finder plugin

  11. @HITshrink

    September 18, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Preview can open .doc and .docx (at least in OS X 10.8) and can then Saveas a .pdf.

    • @HITshrink

      September 18, 2012 at 9:12 am

      …this way you don't even need a copy of Word.

      • Josh

        January 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm

        which actions to choose then? I can choose "open in preview" but there is no "save as pdf" action..?

  12. Roly

    November 27, 2012 at 10:53 pm


    1. Choose "Save Word Documents" Action
    2. Click 'Save Document As' radio button
    3. Select 'Format' as => 'Portable Document Format (PDF)'


      December 29, 2012 at 8:30 pm

      Hi Roly – did you actually try this? I did and it still spits out an error while converting my Word doc to pdf (am using Office for Mac 2011) and OS X 10.8

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