Creating PDFs — The Smart Way

Hav­ing tried a bunch of PDF writ­ers like Acro­bat Stan­dard itself, and PDF Cre­ator, PDF 995, Desk­top PDF etc, many of which sit as Acro­bat Dis­tiller printer mod­ules, here is a sim­ple tip.

Sim­ple. Get Open Office (down­load for free), open your Microsoft Office file, and "Export as PDF". Done.

It works super­fast, no need to muck about with printer options, no Acrobat-like updates or miss­ing DLLs or your typ­i­cal bag of ancil­lary woes, and some pretty snazzy options about loss­less or JPEG com­pres­sion. The PDFs cre­ated are pretty lean too.

Open Office of course has a bunch of other ben­e­fits and a nearly MS-Office-like inter­face, but that's for another day.

  • Inno­va­tor

    As apposed to doing a large install of the open office an get­ting hung up with a Java install. I use PDFCre­ator (Found on source­forge) an free soft­ware which eas­ily cre­ates PDFs from any Win­dows pro­gram. Use it like a printer in Word, Star­Calc or any other Win­dows application.

    I also use the Foxit Reader a free PDF reader that is

  • / snip­tools

    PDF Cre­ator is a good option until it isn't. I tried gen­er­at­ing the PDF of a Pow­er­point pre­sen­ta­tion with images and stuff, only 31 slides, and it croaked. Asked me to rein­stall printer dri­vers. What caused this? Not sure, could be a bunch of things, but I don't have the time or patience to trou­bleshoot. I just want it to work. It is prob­a­bly a good solu­tion for smaller files, and it does work fine with 3 – 4 page Word files, but is sig­nif­i­cantly slower than the Export fea­ture of Open Office.

    On the other hand, I opened the afore­men­tioned ppt in Open Office's Impress, and exported. Had my PDF file in less than 20 sec­onds, every­thing (fonts etc) intact. Yes, it's prob­a­bly a bloat­ware install if *in addi­tion* to MS Office, but I'm test­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting rid of MS Office alto­gether. Open Office is smaller than MS Office, gives me all the func­tion­al­ity, and does so across oper­at­ing sys­tems (my other machines are Red Hat and SuSE).

    Foxit was fun as a reader too, I rec­om­mended it on this very site, but the inter­face was just not fun. Plus, it jum­bled sophis­ti­cated fonts — they did not look the same. Now that Adobe Reader 7.0.7 is speedy enough I don't bother with Foxit.

    Thanks for the point­ers though, it's always fun to try alternatives!

  • Roger Baso

    OO is bet­ter than PDF cre­ator, but it is a huge install and lots of stuff you don't need if you already have a Microsoft install in place. Other util­i­ties have free tri­als such as this PDF Writer that have been tuned for Office and offer support/etc. PDF zone pro­vides a lot of insight into this space.


  • Roger Baso

    no html sup­port — try or for alternatives

  • Ruc Razy

    CutePDF for PDF's
    Paper­less Printer for PDF+ lots other formats

  • Bruce

    Open Office is great, but who has the time to down­load it all on dial-up? For those who need only the occa­sional PDF a far bet­ter option is to do a PDF online via the Adobe site.

  • James

    An open office install is big but lets go to the topic for another day.
    Open Office is free (as in beer and speech). It has a few fea­tures I only noticed till yes­ter­day (after using my girlfriend's lap­top) that word doesn't.
    It sup­ports a lot more for­mats (includ­ing word) and works a treat. It does use up a bit of mem­ory, bit I can put up with it, 128 meg of ram still costs less than MS Word.

  • / snip­tools

    I have been using Primo PDF, and it works well.

  • luke

    I've been using Primo PDF also and it works well. It also has some options that can be use­ful to cre­ate your PDF document.

  • PDF­Ge­nius

    PDF Cre­ator is the best one among those men­tioned. I think installing OpenOf­fice for PDF is a bit round-about. If pos­si­ble, get Adobe Pro­fes­sional as it makes the small­est and most-featured files (you have many options) oth­er­wise PDF Cre­ator is good.

  • Keilaron

    I don't know how good PDF Cre­ator was at the time, but I've been using it for the past sev­eral months at work, and it works GREAT. I've been "print­ing" out many-page doc­u­ments (and many of them at a time) with­out a hitch on a low 800Mhz 256MB RAM sys­tem. Has some inter­est­ing and use­ful options, some which OOo has, some which they share, and some which only PDF Cre­ator has.