Convert color PDF to Black & White or grayscale on Mac

Want to preview a color PDF file in black and white or grayscale before printing it out? Prefer to read grayscale documents than colored ones? Whatever the reason, it is fairly easy to convert color PDF to B&W or grayscale on Mac. In this quick guide, we will introduce two methods that can convert color PDF files to Black & White or grayscale using Preview and Adobe Acrobat Pro DC on Mac.

Convert Color PDFs to Black and White or Grayscale using Preview

Preview is the default image and PDF viewer with basic image and PDF editing features on Mac. It can convert both images and PDF files to black and white or grayscale on Mac by applying the relevant Quartz filter in the Export process. 

Double click the PDF file you like to convert, it will opens with the stock PDF reader on Mac, the Preview app. Go to File menu, choose Export. The Export As window pops up. Here you can choose a different file name, location, output format and Quartz filter before you save the file to your computer. The format should default to PDF, so you don’t need to change it. None Quartz filter will be selected automatically. You need to manually choose Black and White or Gray Tone from the list of filters. finally hit the Save button to convert the color PDF to B&W or grayscale and save it to the chosen folder on your Mac.

convert color pdf to black white grayscale using preview on mac

Unfortunately, this method won’t work due to a known bug in Preview. Currently you need to firstly convert PDF file to image file in Preview, then convert the image file to PDF and apply the Quartz filter at the same time. This workaround works only if you have a few PDF pages to convert. 

Convert Color PDFs to Grayscale using Acrobat Pro – Method 1

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is the most powerful PDF editor. Purchase and install this premium PDF tool on your Mac. Open the PDF file in Acrobat Pro, click Tools, choose Print Production. You can then access the tools to preview, preflight, correct, and prepare PDF files for high end print production at the right panel. 

adobe acrobat pro dc convert colors to gray on mac

Choose Convert Colors. You will get a pop-up dialog where you can choose Gray Gamma from the Conversion Profile. Press OK to continue and convert color PDF to grayscale using Acrobat Pro on Mac.

Convert Color PDFs to Black and White or Grayscale using Acrobat Pro – Method 2

Also in the Print Production panel, choose Preflight other than Convert Colors this time. The Preflight window opens. Click the Fixups (spanner/wrench icon) and then type in ‘convert’ to find ‘Convert color to grayscale’ or ‘Convert color to B/W’. Click Fix button at the bottom right corner and follow on-screen tips to convert color PDF to black and white or grayscale and save it to your Mac computer.

adobe acrobat pro preflight convert color to black white on mac

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