Save web pages as PDF files using Safari on the iPhone. Store them in iCloud Drive or Google Drive.

Sometimes you come across a web page that is so useful you want to save it. Bookmarking is an option, but if you want a physical copy you can save it as a PDF on your iPhone to read later.

What’s wrong with bookmarking?

Bookmarks are a great way to save web pages and they take up no storage space on the iPhone, but there are potential problems.

  • The original web page could be modified and information that is of interest to you could be removed. Who said what and when is sometimes important.
  • The bookmarked web page may be deleted.
  • The website could be closed.
  • The web page could be moved.

If you have ever tried some of your oldest bookmarks you will find that many no longer work because web pages and websites sometimes disappear. For these reasons it is sometimes advisable to avoid bookmarks save a web page in some other form. PDF is one of the most useful formats because it is universally supported and it preserves much of the original page.

You may not have realised it, but web pages viewed in Safari on the iPhone can be saved as PDF files. What’s more, you don’t need to fill the valuable storage space on the phone itself with lots of PDF files and they can be saved to your personal online storage instead. For example, they can be saved to iCloud Drive, Google Drive or other cloud storage services.

A library of useful web pages saved as PDFs could be built up and they would become a valuable resource.

Share a web page in Safari

Use Safari on the iPhone to visit the web page you would like to save as a PDF file. Down at the bottom of the screen in the toolbar, press the Share button. Swipe through the sharing options and find Create PDF .

 browsing a website using Safari on the iPhone Sharing options in Safari on the iPhone

You need iOS 11 for this.

Annotate PDF files on the iPhone

You might think that nothing has changed, but look closely at the top and bottom bars where there are new icons. This is a PDF of the web page, not the web page itself.

You could press the Share button in the bottom left corner or the Done button in the top left corner to save the PDF, but look in the top right corner. There is another icon and this is used for annotating the PDF. Press it to open the editor.

It turns out that the PDF editor is exactly the same as the screenshot editor - see Annotate screenshots on your iPhone in iOS 11. See that article for a full description of the tools. Briefly, you can draw on the PDF with pens, pencils and markers. Press the plus button to add text, a signature, rectangles, ellipses and circles, speech bubbles and arrows.

 Create a PDF in Safari on the iPhone Annotate PDFs on the iPhone

There is a bug. If you are reading this in six months time it will probably have been fixed, but right now the pen, pencil and marker tools draw in invisible ink. They do work, you just can’t see them on the screen. However, the ink is visible when you save the PDF and view it afterwards. I scribbled all over a PDF thinking they weren’t working, but saw it afterwards in the PDF. No doubt it will be fixed in an iOS update.

Press the editor button in the top right corner again to quit the editor and return to the previous screen.

Save or sage the PDF

Press the Done button at the top to save the PDF, with annotations if you used the editor, or press the Share button at the bottom for extra options, like Mail, Message, Print and so on.

Press Share and then select Save to Files. When this is selected you can choose from the online storage services you have on your iPhone. Everyone has iCloud Drive of course, but some people might also have other services and I have Google Drive too.

Select the cloud storage service to use, choose the folder to save it in and the PDF is saved.

 Share options for PDFs created on the iPhone Save files to cloud storage on the iPhone

This is a brilliant feature that enables you to create PDFs, annotate them and then store them online.

 

Comments   

0 # Andrea 2017-10-07 20:49
I do that a LOT on my IPod Touch - thank you!
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