In many cases, PDF files themselves have replaced printing. However, it’s still extremely useful to print these in a wide variety of situations. You won’t have to use the command line at all either, which might disappoint some but excite others. While there are command line tools for printing PDF documents, you more than likely won’t actually need them if you’re not trying to put together scripts to print large numbers of files or anything like that.
Many desktop environments feature their own default print dialog, while some distributions like Ubuntu feature one they can use across a number of different applications. These tips should therefore work regardless of the configuration you’re on.
Method 1: Printing With Google Chrome’s Built-in PDF Reader
Users who have installed Google Chrome on their Linux installation can start it from the Ubuntu Dash, searching for Google Chrome, from the Internet menu by clicking on the LXDE menu or perhaps from the Internet menu inside of the Whisker Menu on Xfce4. Your homepage will come up once the Chrome browser starts regardless of how it’s started.
Drag a PDF from your file browser directly onto the Google Chrome window. You can take a PDF file from Nautilus, Konqueror, Thunar, PCManFM or any other modern file browser and drag it directly over. This should actually also work wit text files too. Once you have the file loaded up in Chrome you can scroll through it like in any other PDF reader:
To print a page, click on the menu on the right-hand side with three dots and then select print.
You could also hold down the Ctrl and P keys to bring up the print dialog box. Chrome has it’s own print dialog, though you could hold down Ctrl, Shift and P at the same time if you’d prefer to use your Linux distributions’ default one. Click on the “Change…” button if you’d prefer not to use the default printer. If it reads “Save as PDF,” then your default printer would actually print to a file. This is the case if your system doesn’t recognize your attached hardware.
Click on the radio button underneath All and type in the pages you’d prefer to print. You can then click Print or Save. If you’re not given an option to print on both sides of a page, then try clicking on “Print using system dialog… (Ctrl+Shift+P) and see if you have one there. There’s the possibility your hardware or driver doesn’t support this. You can still print a single page, remove it from your printer, insert the opposite side and try printing the second on the back if you know the proper orientation of the page. This can take some practice, however, to avoid printing in the wrong direction on it.
Method 2: Printing PDF Files Using Mozilla Firefox
Firefox, and it’s various derivatives, is the default Web browser on many different distributions of Linux now. Even modern forms of Debian now have it, and it’s the most popular with Fedora users. You can drag PDF files directly into it using the same method as with Chrome. Simply open your file browser, perhaps by holding down the Super key and pushing either E or F or alternatively opening it from the Dash or Applications menu, and then drag a PDF directly onto an open Firefox window.
Once you have a file open, then you can either scroll through it or click on the box next to the down arrow and enter a page number. You may also want to click the button on the extreme left-hand side of the PDF viewer. to open up a thumbnail list if you’re looking for a particular page to print.
As soon as you’re done browsing, you can click on the Printer icon on the right-hand side of the internal Firefox PDF viewer to bring up a print dialog box. You can also click on File and then select Print, push F10 and use the cursor keys to select Print or push Ctrl and P at the same time while the Firefox window is active. Unlike Chrome, Firefox only uses the Print dialog box that’s present in your distribution of Linux and doesn’t have its own.
If you want to configure printing on both sides of a page, then you’ll see an option for it after selecting a printer as long as your hardware and driver both support it. Otherwise, you’ll have to either only do single-sided copies or manually print single sheets and remove them. In many cases it’s advised to avoid printing if at all possible if you’re interested in saving paper. Always specify the exact pages you want to print if you don’t want to print the entire document. Notice that in our example with a PDF downloaded from SourceForge we would have printed an absurd 540 pages if we weren’t careful about that.
Method 3: Printing PDF Files with Evince
Many modern Linux distributions use the Evince PDF viewer. While you can start it from the Dash, Applications Menu, Whisker Menu and such as an Office application, Evince or an analog of it usually starts when you double-click on a PDF file in a standard modern file manager. You can scroll through your PDF backwards and forwards once it’s loaded and of course select individual thumbnails on the side if so desired for navigation.
In Evince, the printing rules apply as with Chrome or Firefox. You can either hold down Ctrl and P to open the print dialog, click on File and then Print or open the File menu with the F10 key and scroll to print. Once you do, you’ll be within your distributions’ default print box again, and then will once more need to click on either the radio button that reads Current Page or the one beneath it to specify certain pages. You’ll only see front-and-back printing options if your printer hardware as well as you r driver supports it.