Change The PDF Printer Output Directory

Since Ubuntu 7.10, a PDF printer has been installed by default. The behavior of this feature has changed from Ubuntu 7.10, instead of asking for a name and location for the PDF, Ubuntu 8.04 will guess a name for the document and place the file in a folder called PDF in your home directory.

I’d rather have PDFs just saved to my desktop. These are instructions for Ubuntu 8.04, previous versions of Ubuntu ignore this setting. Note that this is a system-wide setting.

  1. Open the file /etc/cups/cups-pdf.conf as the root user:

    gksu gedit /etc/cups/cups-pdf.conf
  2. The lines starting with the “#” character are comments. The first un-commented line, which specifies the output directory, should look something like this:

    Out ${HOME}/PDF
  3. Change this line to the path you want your PDFs saved to. This will save them to the current users’s desktop:

    Out ${HOME}/Desktop
  4. Save and close the text editor. Now you just need to restart CUPS for the change to take effect.

    sudo /etc/init.d/cupsys restart

The PDF printer can be very useful, I recently used it to print a single page of a multi-page PDF to a separate file. The latest version of Inkscape from the Ubuntu 8.04 repositories can even import and edit PDFs.

[update] If you’re wishing that you could have the print dialog prompt you for a location, there’s a bug report about this issue.

Archived Comments

Scott Wegner

Do you know why this was changed? I also use the PDF printer, and I like having the ability to save with a particular name and location. It’s surprising that the behavior has changed without any notice or GUI option to switch it back.


Thanks for the post. I have not been a fan of the default setup for PDF printing. The first time I did it I thought, “Ok, now what.” I looked on my desktop and in my home folder. No new PDFs. So then I Googled it and found out it was in the PDF folder, which I missed, in my home folder. I think the average user would have just given up.


Is there any way to get it to prompt for a folder and filename? Maybe using zenity?

Bas Doodeman

If you have no superuser account?

Use the following to link your PDF folder to the Desktop:

rm -r ~/PDF # remove PDF folder and any files in it.

ln -s ~/Desktop ~/PDF # link PDF to your Desktop


Scott: As far as I can see, this was changed in the new version of GNOME. I haven’t a clue why they changed it.

Maxo: That’s exactly my experience the first time I used the PDF printer also.

jimcooncat: I think you’re out of luck unless you can modify the GNOME printer dialog.


I have changed the “PDF” to “Desktop”, but it dosnt show up there. Any tips? (I have restarted cups).


I changed the PDF to Desktop, but no pdf are saved there. I have also restarted CUPS. Any tips?


I have the same problem. I seems to work only with the line
“Out ${HOME}/PDF”


Take a look at this:

Changing the output directory dosn’t work in some cases because of apparmor.


This site contains an accurate walkthrough to fix.

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