Saturday, August 13, 2005

Making PDF files for the masses

Ever since I first downloaded the free Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to read something provided to me as a PDF, I have been aware that Adobe makes a much more expensive piece of software that some people use to create PDF files. My need to post anything as a PDF file has been too infrequent to justify laying out almost $300.

Then I found the free CutePDF Writer. This software makes it possible for a Windows ( 98/ME/2000/XP/2003 ) user to produce a basic PDF document from any software that can print.

Installation was a bit tricky. I needed to download and install two pieces of software. On my first try one of them did not install correctly, so I had to uninstall both and start over. The two programs to install can be downloaded at http://www.cutepdf.com/Products/CutePDF/writer.asp. The main program is CuteWriter.exe and is under the "Free Download" link on that page. The second program is a PostScript to PDF converter, and they recommend using GNU Ghostscript, which can be downloaded on that page through the "Free Converter" link. When you finish installing both you will notice that Windows now recognizes an additional printer called "CutePDF Writer."

Using the software is really easy. You print the document to the CutePDF Writer. Simply select the "CutePDF Writer" printer subsystem when you print your document. (In Microsoft Word choose Print from the File Menu instead of using the Print button on the main toolbar because the button is set to print to your default printer.) Don't worry about checking the "Print to file" checkbox; the CutePDF Writer printer will ask you for the filename under which you want your PDF file to be saved.

This is a system for creating PDF files without the advanced features that more expensive software would provide, such as encryption, bookmarks, or forms that can be filled in online. For the average person who might need to create a simple PDF file occasionally, CutePDF Writer is the way to go.

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.primopdf.com is what I use for PDF creation. It's free too - works great for me.

Brian
http://myvogonpoetry.com

Stewart said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I have no experience with PrimoPDF, so I can't endorse your recommendation, but it does appear that PrimoPDF promises to do some things that CutePDF does not.

Anonymous said...

Great blog, I really enjoyed it.Mike
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Stewart said...

I did check out PrimoPDF. One of the things it promised to be able to do was to add document information (for easier indexing) to the PDF file. After taking the time to fill in the document information, I discovered that PrimoPDF did not store most of it in the resulting PDF file. Odd.