There was a secured PDF we were needing to extract a page from, but we didn’t have the author’s password. Since all of the typical tools seemed unwilling to help (Preview, PDFPenPro, Acrobat Pro), I found a roundabout way of getting a PDF of the single page, although it did require a sheet of paper. And no, I did not print it and scan it back in.

OS X, like many other Unix variants, uses CUPS for printing. There is an option to hold on to the print job files reasonably named PreserveJobFiles, so let’s get this added to our configuration.

While you can do this all from the command line, I found it easier to just enable the web server. In Terminal, type cupsctl WebInterface=yes.

Now point your browser to http://localhost:631 and click on the “Administration” tab. Click the “Edit Configuration File” button, add the line PreserveJobFiles yes, and click the “Save Changes” button.

Now, print to a printer like you normally would specifying whatever print range you need (and you could probably find driver that doesn’t require a physical printer that takes real paper), go to /var/spool/cups, and look for the newest file – you’ll probably have to be root. Copy this file somewhere useful, add a .pdf extension to it, and chown it to your regular user.

Now you have a completely unsecured PDF of just the pages you need, or if you need to correct a typo or two, it’s also editable.

Nicholas Lindley