cupsfilter - macOS


cupsfilter is a command utilized on macOS to convert a file from one format to another using CUPS (Common UNIX Printing System) filters. It is primarily employed for processing print files before sending them to a printer, but it can also be useful for converting files in batch processes or for testing CUPs filters. Its versatile format conversion capabilities make it ideal for both developers and system administrators dealing with print server management and configuration.


cupsfilter [options] filename


  • filename: The name of the file to process. This argument is required.


  • -c cupsd.conf: Specifies the cupsd.conf file to use.
  • -d printer: Uses the named printer’s PPD file and configuration for filtering.
  • -e: Forces filtering even if the mime type of the file cannot be determined.
  • -j job-id[,N]: Specifies which job and document to filter; useful for multi-document jobs.
  • -m mime/type: Sets the destination MIME type to use if no PPD file is specified.
  • -n copies: Sets the number of copies to produce.
  • -o option: Sets options such as media, resolution, etc. Can be specified multiple times.
  • -p ppd-file: Specifies a PPD file to use in filtering.
  • -t title: Sets the title of the print job.
  • -u: Unlinks (deletes) the input file after filtering.


  1. Basic Format Conversion:
    Convert a text file to a PDF using a specified PPD file:

    cupsfilter -p /path/to/ppd/file.ppd -m application/pdf input.txt > output.pdf
  2. Advanced Configuration:
    Convert an image for a specific printer with multiple options:

    cupsfilter -d PrinterName -o media=A4 -o resolution=600dpi input.jpg > output.pwg

Common Issues

  • File Type Not Recognized: If cupsfilter does not recognize the file type (mime/type), the -e option forces the filter to be applied.

  • Permission Errors: Ensure that you have adequate permissions for the directories and files involved, especially when using the -u option to remove files.

  • Incorrect Output Format: Verify that the specified MIME type or PPD file supports the desired output format. Check the PPD file for supported formats and options.


cupsfilter can be integrated with shell scripts to automate the conversion of multiple files or manage print jobs. For example, to batch convert all .txt files in a directory to PDF:

for file in *.txt; do
  cupsfilter -m application/pdf "$file" > "${file%.txt}.pdf"

This script loops through all .txt files in the current directory, converting each one to a PDF.

  • lp: Submits files for printing.
  • lpstat: Displays status information about current print jobs.
  • cancel: Cancels a print job.

Additional Resources

This manual should serve as a robust guide to understanding and utilizing cupsfilter effectively within your macOS environment, streamlining print-related tasks or file conversions.