I just installed QGIS 3.6 on a new Macbook pro running Mojave, and I'm trying to produce geospatial PDFs of some basic maps of property boundaries overlaid onto aerial imagery base maps to use in Avenza on an iPhone.

I'm new to open source GIS, and what I'm used to with Arc being able to export directly to a geospatial PDF seems to be much more difficult with QGIS. It seems that the best workaround mentioned online is to export a map to a TIF with world data, then to convert that TIF to a PDF. On a PC running QGIS 3.2.3, I can do that just fine--I export a map image which creates a .tif file and a .tfw file, then I can use the "Translate (Convert Format)" tool in the raster drop-down menu and use that TIF as an input, select the projection, and select .pdf as the output file type to generate a geospatial PDF, but on my Mac PDF isn't listed as an output file type option.

I'm struggling to find a way to just get a map formatted so I can open it in Avenza, and I have no idea why this file type is an option on my older PC version of QGIS but not on the newer version on my mac. Does anybody has an idea of how I can take a map I produce in QGIS and easily export it as or convert it to a geospatial PDF? It seems most of the info I've found on either is outdated or involves a writing Python scripts that I just don't understand.

1 Answer 1


Open a command window in the directory that contains your exported TIFF. Type this command: gdal_translate -of PDF -a_srs EPSG:32648 yourinput.tif youroutput.pdf Of course you will need to replace yourinput.tif and youroutput.pdf with the name of the TIF and the desired output file name. Additionally you will need to change EPSG:32648 to what ever CRS you are using but you can just look that EPSG number up online.


  • I get an error message that reads "gdal_translate: command not found"
    – Jake
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 20:51
  • See here. gis.stackexchange.com/questions/276927/…
    – GBG
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 21:05
  • Resolved: missed this step in installing GDAL: Once installed, add the path to GDAL library to your .bash_profile file to be able to use the commands easily from the terminal. Launch a Terminal and type in the following commands. echo 'export PATH=/Library/Frameworks/GDAL.framework/Programs:$PATH' >> ~/.bash_profile source ~/.bash_profile
    – Jake
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 21:06
  • Looks like that PDF though still doesn't have the correct spatial reference when I import into Avenza. Is this command handling the TIF as a geoTIFF by reading the world file I exported with it or just as a regular image file? Is there an intermediate step I need to take to make sure it's getting properly referenced?
    – Jake
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 21:41
  • TIFF and GeoTiff are supported by GDAL gdal.org/formats_list.html. What is your coordinate reference system? Does the resulting PDF display correctly in QGIS?
    – GBG
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 22:16

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