Passing on items to make pdf in shortcuts

I am trying to write a shortcut to save a PDF made using Toolbox Pro. Keep getting an error message saying that I need to “Make sure to pass items to the Make PDF action.” I am baffled as to what I am missing. See below for the current shortcut.

What’s the variable PrePDF look like after you’ve added the shortcut input to it? You might want to Quick Look it in order to debug.

I am not sure exactly what you are trying to do here as it is difficult to tell from a screenshot of part of a Shortcut, but there are 2 things that may help. (Ithink you are trying for option 2, below).

  1. For some reason, Shortdut Input does not persist through the Shortcut. Try assigning Shortcut Input to your PrePDF variable as the very first action of your Shortcut. You can then use the variable later in your Shortcut.

This will only help in your case if you are passing some data into the Shortcut when you first run it, which I don’t think is the case.

  1. (I think this is the one that is what you are trying to achieve): Create a PDF of the results of the Scan Document Toolbox Pro action.

The Toolbox Pro Scan Document action passes its results back to the Shortcut via the clipboard, not the Shortcut Input variable.

Make sure that you have selected the option on the Scan Document action (tap on the little arrow head in the circle) to return Scanned Images otherwise you will just get the OCR text returned.

Swap your Wait 2 seconds for a Wait to Return action. This means that the Shortcut will wait for you to tap the Save button on the scan, which automatically returns you to the Shortcut, before it continues processing.

Wheen doning your save in the last action in your image, you would not save the PDF the way it is written (you would save the data passed to the Shortcut exactly as passed, pre-processing); instead you need to select the Magic Variable of the PDF image to save.

Here is a sample Make PDF Shortcut that does the basics of what I think you are after.

If this does not help or I have misunderstood what you are trying to achieve, please attach a link to your Shortcut so that we can download it and have a look better at what is going on.

Hope this helps.


Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. The shortcut is now working like a charm. Still learning fine details about how things work. You were correct, that your option #2 was where I was headed. The example shortcut you to which you provided the link was also very helpful. Off to a meeting, but again thanks for taking the time to help me work through this.



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It dawned on me that I never really said why I was writting this shortcut. Was listening to Automators episode #94 with Jeff Richardson and he talked about a shortcut he wrote to save receipts from favorite restaurants he enjoyed so that he could reference them to remember what he (or his family) had enjoyed on previous visits. Thought I would enjoy such a shortcut so I downloaded it. During the episode @RosemaryOrchard recommend that he consider pulling the restaurant list from Data Jar and @MacSparky suggested he use the scanning shortcut action in Toolbox Pro. So, I decided that would be fun to try. So, I already had Toolbox Pro, got Data Jar and went at it. Working with Data Jar was not terribly difficult, but as @Tony pointed out I clearly did not have a good grasp of how Toolbox Pro handled the scans in Shortcuts. Happy to say that now I have a functional shortcut that remembers restaurants I have been to, adds to my Data Jar list when I go someplace new, and saves scans of receipts named with the restaurant and date to a specific folder in iCloud that is easily searchable. I would like to make a few refinements. First on the list is to see if there is a way to alphabetize the list I pull from Data Jar.

If anyone is interested here is the link to my dinning favorites shortcut.

Toolbox Pro has a Sort List option that you can place after you retrieve your list from Data Jar and before the Choose.

I’ve just shown it sorting a text list, but it will work the same with Data Jar retrieved values.

Hope this helps.

Well, that was rediculously easy. Thanks again.

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Could u please help me I am trying to create a PDF from chrome and I’m getting this same error message “ Make sure to pass items to the Make PDF action” I am still learning as well but I have not messed with this shortcut. I figured it was already set up. Here is a screenshot of mine. Hope you Can help…. Or someone!! Please and thanks in advance :blush:

I thought I could paste the photos but I guess not
:frowning: Sorry

Hi @Andrea_Harst — welcome to the forum :smile:

A couple of caveats to start with… I don’t have or use Chrome, so I can’t test this and it is difficult to tell from a screenshot exactly what is going on.

In the Make PDF action, the error message is stating that nothing is being passed to that action. Long press on the File Extension and select Shortcut Input.

For Safari, it would look like this (click here to download):

If this does not work, if you can share a link to your Shortcut, it will be easier to see what is going on.

Hope this helps,


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Hi Russ
Creating Shortcuts is something I do for my own use and as a hobby and that is where my experience comes from – I am no qualified expert in this. It is not something that I feel I could charge for – here, it is done for the benefit of the community on a “pay it forward” basis. There are times I have asked a question and have been helped by other members of the forum and I will always do what I can to help others here.

If you have a sample of what you need for your automation and you can post (sanitised) details on here and any Shortcut that you have so far, usually multiple people will be able to chip in and help you build what you need. If possible, post a sample of the input data that you will be working with, the results that you are wanting and any Shortcut/automation that you have so far. If you can also supply details of what platform(s) you need to be able to do this on (presumably macOS as you mention Automator) and any other tools that you may have available (Keyboard Maestro, Hazel etc), a fuller version of a solution may be able to be suggested by the community.

I don’t have Reader so I have no idea on what options that has, but creating PDFs and saving them to a folder is generally not an issue.

Sorry I cannot be of more help. If you cannot post on here for whatever reason, I hope that you manage to find someone that is able to commit to helping you.


Thanks Tony, for your kind reply regarding my request for consulting help with a Short Cut. I will post my request to a broader Mac Power User page. FYI, I deleted the entry that you replied to because it had my email address and it and I didn’t want to leave it on the web for bots to farm.