How to print a regular file to pdf from command line

In gedit, printing a file gives an option of printing to file where the file can be saved as a pdf. How can I do the same thing from the command line?

Here is Solutions:

We have many solutions to this problem, But we recommend you to use the first solution because it is tested & true solution that will 100% work for you.

Solution 1

Here’s a solution that doesn’t involve OpenOffice:

  1. sudo apt-get install enscript

  2. enscript my_text_file.txt -o - | ps2pdf - output.pdf

There are more options to enscript, e.g. -B to omit the page header. See man enscript for all of the options.

Solution 2

without installing any of the above mentioned software, one can simply do the following with already installed cupsfilter:

cupsfilter foo.txt > foo.pdf

(for options etc. please refer to cupsfilter man pages 🙂 )

Solution 3


sudo apt-get install cups-pdf enscript

Then run enscript on your file with the -P switch and the printer description PDF in this case.

enscript -B -PPDF test.txt

A printer with description PDF was created when you installed cups-pdf, when you use enscript with that printer your document will be sent to the PDF printer and will be printed to file, created as .pdf in your /home/PDF directory, the command above will print the text file test.txt as a pdf in the PDF directory.


sudo apt-get install unoconv

You can use unoconv in standalone mode, this means that in absence of an OpenOffice listener, it will start its own:

In the directory where your file is located run:

unoconv -f pdf test.txt

this will create a nice looking pdf of test.txt. in the current directory

Solution 4

There is a command line program that can convert between all of the formats supported open/libre office called unoconv so if you need to batch convert with a script it will come in handy.

sudo apt-get install unoconv

Solution 5

Pandoc is a must have swiss knife tool when it comes to conversion between various markup languages. To get you started first install pandoc converter:

sudo apt-get install pandoc

General and most frequently used syntax for pandoc is:

pandoc -f <from format> -t <to format> <source file>

Please note that you need texlive-latex-base package to be installed first, before you can convert to PDF format. Otherwise you will get a following error:

pandoc: pdflatex not found. pdflatex is needed for pdf output.

To install it:

sudo apt-get install texlive-latex-base

Now you can easily convert any file to pdf.

pandoc -t txt -t pdf source.txt

replace txt with your text format(odt – html – ….)

Solution 6

paps is a better alternative than enscript

paps file.txt | ps2pdf - output.pdf

Solution 7

I had some issues with german Umlaute (ÄÖÜ) with the above mentioned solutions. Or, in the case of paps, the resulting PDF does not have a text layer.

The best solution for me was to use wkthmltopdf. It seems to be not documented, but you can easily convert text files into PDF files by using this syntax:

wktmltopdf <textfile> <pdffile>

wkhtmltopdf can handle UTF-8 files (unlike enscript). All problematic chars like ÄÖÜß etc. will be displayed correctly.

Solution 8

As posted above, enscript is a popular way to convert text to postscript, which can then be further converted to PDF.
A similar tool, which has been around for a long time, is a2ps. It has a large number of options, including putting multiple pages on a physical page. Install ap2s with
sudo apt-get install a2ps.

AFAIK, enscript and a2ps do the same job, but their interface is different and YMMV with each of them.

Solution 9

You can use a2x

a2x – convert Asciidoc text file to PDF, XHTML, HTML Help, ODF,
or plain text

To install a2x:

sudo apt-get install asciidoc

for example:

 a2x -f pdf testfile.txt

Solution 10

You can use u2ps too.

This generates both ps and pdf.
This accepts UTF-8 text, and supports syntax highlighting through Pango markups.

Note: Use and implement solution 1 because this method fully tested our system.
Thank you 🙂

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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