How to print an ePub document on a Mac

Ever try printing an ePub (Books) document? You can’t. There’s no “Print” menu item, so that takes care of that. See below!

Books app File menu (with no Print option)
File menu… without a “Print” option!

So, that’s that, right? Well, it would be, except for a terrific, free program called Calibre. Calibre can convert an ePub document to a PDF, and of course you can print a PDF.

Calibre icon
Calibre app icon

You can download Calibre here. When you launch it the first time you’ll work through a set-up wizard. After that, you’re down to just a couple of steps:

  1. Add your ePub file to Calibre (use the Add books button)
  2. Click on the book you want to convert
  3. Click on the Convert books button

Then… you have some choices to make, but the most important one is to set the output format to PDF.

Calibre Output Options dialog box.
Calibre Output options

After choosing PDF as the output format you’ll see (in the left-hand pane of the window) a PDF output button. Click that and you’ll see more options than you’ve ever thought about. Make your choices and then click OK in the bottom right corner. You’ll have to wait a bit while Calibre chugs along (you’ll see the progress at bottom right), but eventually you’ll end up with a PDF. And when you open that, you’ll find a nice “Print” item in the File menu.

There are several online services that will let you upload an ePub document, promising to return it as a PDF. For security and privacy reasons, I prefer doing the conversion right on my own Mac. Calibre lets me do that. And remember, it’s free.

Bonus: Calibre is not just free, but also open source. That means the source code can be examined, which gives us some assurance that the app isn’t doing something sketchy with your ePub document.

Calibre can do a whole lot more than convert an ePub to a PDF but even that single function is a huge service. Glad to know you, Calibre. Thank you very much.

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