PostScript to PDF (or SVG) for macOS

A PostScript (or EPS) to PDF converter app for macOS

Starting with macOS Ventura, macOS lacks a convenient method for converting PostScript and Encapsulated-PostScript files to PDF format. In earlier macOS versions, the Preview application could open PostScript (.ps) and Encapsulated-PostScript (.eps)files and convert them to PDF files, but Apple removed this ability from macOS Ventura, saying that "Other apps that can view or convert .ps and .eps files are available from the App Store and elsewhere."

The only converter apps available from the App Store are commercial products, and I haven't found free desktop-style converter apps anywhere else. Apple provided a command-line pstopdf utility in all macOS versions through Ventura, but has dropped it from macOS Sonoma.

I have created an AppleScript app named PostScriptToPDF that uses the open-source application Ghostscript 10.02.0 to convert .ps and .eps files to PDF format. You can download PostScriptToPDF here.

A similar program for Windows may be found on another page. And if you need to convert PCL to PDF, see yet another page.

SVG output option: If you change the name of the app to include SVG in its name (e.g. PostScriptToSVG or PStoPDFtoSVG) it will use the Poppler library to convert the PDF output to an SVG file; only the first page of multipage files will be converted to SVG. The program requires brew on your system so that it can (if needed) download the pdf2svg executable for converting the PDF. If you do not have brew installed, the app will prompt you to install it. If you do not have pdf2svg installed, the app will install it automatically using brew.

Copy the app to any convenient folder (perhaps your Applications folder). Drop one or more PostScript or EPS files on the app to convert them to PDF (or SVG) format; or launch the app and select one or more files from the window that opens. The PDF (or SVG) output files will have the same names as the PostScript or EPS files, but with a .pdf (or .svg) extension, and (by default) they will open in the macOS default PDF (or SVG) viewer, typically Preview for PDF. If the output PDF (or SVG) file exists, you wil be offered the choice of replacing it, keeping the old and new files, or doing nothing. (You may drop multiple files on the app, but do not drop .ps and .eps files at the same time; the app can only handle one dropped format at a time.)

Delete the source file after generating the PDF (or SVG) file: If you change the name of the app so that it includes the string del or delete or anything else with del in it, it will move the source PostScript or EPS file to the trash after the PDF (or SVG) file is created. (For example, you might rename the app to something like PStoPDFAndDelete or anything else with del in the name.)

Delete the PDF (or SVG) file after viewing it: If you want to view (and possibly print or copy) the PDF (or SVG) file, but you do not want to save it, add the string temp to the name of the app, so that it will treat the PDF (or SVG) as a temporary file. If you want to retrieve the file after the app deletes it, you can find it in the Trash.

Create the PDF file but do not open it for viewing: If you do want the PDF (or SVG) file to open for viewing after it is created, add the string silent to the name of the app.

Make this app the default app for PostScript or EPS files: If you double-click on a .ps or .eps file, this app may or may not run automatically, depending on what else is on your system. You can make this app the default app for .ps or .eps files by cmd-clicking a .ps or .eps file and choosing Get Info. An option lets you choose the application that opens the file; you can select this app and "Change all" to make this app the default file handler for the .ps or .eps file type.

Set up a "watched folder" for PS/EPS files: If you change the name of the app so that it includes the string Watch, it will set up a watched folder, so that any PS or EPS file that is written to that folder, or copied or moved into that folder, will be converted to a PDF (or SVG) file. By default, the watched folder is a folder in your user folder named "PSToPDFFolder" and will be created if it doesn't exist. By default, the converted PDF (or SVG) file will be written to your desktop. And by default, a PS or EPS file written to the watched folder will be moved to the trash after being converted. You can change all three of these defaults by holding down the Option key when launching the app (if the app has the string Watch in its name) and choosing options from a menu. You can also choose an option that opens the PDF (or SVG) file automatically in the macOS default PDF (or SVG) viewer, and a further option that deletes the PDF (or SVG) file after you chose it in the viewing app.

If you want the watched folder to be active whenever you are running macOS, you can add the app (with Watch in its name) to your startup items.

If for any reason you want to the app to stop watching the folder, you can sign out and in again, or hold down the Option key while launching the app and choose the option to stop watching and exit. This option will only appear if a folder is currently being watched. Alternatively, simply enter this command in a terminal:

launchctl remove org.wpdos.pstopdffolder

Note: I haven't tested this app in a macOS "locale" outside North America. If you are outside the US or Canada, and the app produces letter-sized PDFs when you want A4-sized PDFs, let me know at the address below, and I'll modify the app.

If you find this program useful, please feel free to visit this page.

App updated 16 February 2024 with option to save to SVG; 17 February 2024 with option to stop watching a folder.

Edward Mendelson (edward [dot] mendelson [at] columbia [dot] edu).