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One of the most common problems that occur when trying to share documents between computers and operating systems is that one or more of the recipients may not have the software used by the creator of the document. For example, many people still don't have Microsoft Word. So when their friends or coworkers send them a Word document, they might not have a way to view it. Even if they do have Word, they still need to have all the same fonts used in the document in order to see the document exactly as the creator intended. There is also the possibility that their version of Word is too old to read a document created by the latest version of Word. So there are many things that can stand in the way of the seemingly simple act of trying to send a document to someone else so they can read or review it.
The solution to this problem is the Adobe PDF or Portable Document Format. You've most likely come across PDF documents before. PDFs ensure that documents look exactly the way their creators intended with the exact fonts, layout, and appearance. PDFs can be viewed by anyone using a Mac or anyone on a PC with a copy of the free Adobe Reader application which can be downloaded from Adobe's web site at get.adobe.com/reader. Again, this is free, so if you don't have a copy of Adobe Reader yourself, you should go to this page, click the Download button and install it, since PDFs are so common.
But the problem is Reader only lets you read PDFs. On Windows, if you want to convert a document to a PDF you need additional software. Now some applications like the 2007 and 2010 versions of Microsoft Word have PDF creation capabilities built-in. Let's look at this document I have and open it in Microsoft Word. So this is an Employee Manual and as you can see it's been formatted with colors, various fonts, and the layout is fairly stylized.
Now as the creator of this document I want to make sure that it looks just like this when employees receive it. But right now, it's a Word document, and not everyone is guaranteed to have Word. I can convert this to a PDF very easily by clicking the Office button and choosing Save As, and I can either choose to save it as a PDF from right here or I can just click Save As and then from the Save as type menu, choose PDF. Either way works. So I will save this to my Desktop and I'll leave its name as 10_02_TwoTreesHandbook and click Save.
If I minimize Word now and take a look at my Desktop, there is the PDF document I just created. Now again, in order to view a PDF you need to have Adobe Reader installed on your PC. I do have it installed and set as my default PDF Reader, so I will just double-click the file and there is my PDF looking exactly as it did in Word and anyone else who opens this PDF will see the exact same thing. So that's how to create a PDF with Microsoft Word or any other Microsoft Office application. But what if you want to create a PDF from some other application? In that case, you are going to need Adobe Acrobat Pro, which costs money, $449 currently if you are not upgrading from a previous version.
Now you can download a free trial that will lasts for 30 days, so you can try out the program and with Adobe Acrobat Pro installed on your PC, you'll be able to create PDFs from any application that has a Print command. For example, I am going to close Word, and I am going to right-click on that Word document and choose to open it with WordPad. Now WordPad does not have built-in PDF creation capabilities. But because I have Acrobat Pro installed on my computer, I can choose Print. Notice I won't see any PDF options here, but I will choose Print and in the Print dialog box I will find that one of my printers is Adobe PDF, which I will select and then I will just click Print.
I am prompted to name and save my file. I will again save this on my Desktop and I will just add a 2 at the end of the name so we know this is the second version we are printing from here in WordPad. Notice Save as type is set to PDF and I will click Save. Now when I print it from here I can actually open up the document directly. You can see my Acrobat Reader icon is flashing down here. So I will click that and here is the version of the PDF that was created from WordPad, using the Adobe PDF Printer. You can see it looks pretty much exactly the same as it did in Microsoft Word.
I will go ahead and close that, and we'll close WordPad for the moment. And so again, you can do this from any program that can print as long as you have Acrobat Pro installed. Now if the cost of Acrobat Pro is a little high for you, there are alternate applications you can download and install. One popular example is CutePDF available at cutepdf.com. From here you can download the CutePDF Writer software, which again is completely free, and then follow the installation instructions. I have already downloaded and installed it.
So I'll once again open this Word document in say WordPad again and keep PDF works the exact same way as using the Acrobat Pro plug-in to print. I'll choose Print and once you have it installed you should see a CutePDF Writer printer selected here. So as long as it's selected, I'll click Print. Again, I am prompted to save my file. I will just call this version 3, save it, and there is a file sitting on my desktop again. I will double-click that and again, we have a PDF generated from WordPad, which does not have native PDF building capabilities, but since it does have a Print command I was able to print my PDF using CutePDF.
So the end result is the same. You get a PDF that looks just like the original document looked in the program you printed from. So why should you pay for Adobe Acrobat Pro when CutePDF is free? Well, if you only want to create PDFs, all you really need is CutePDF, but if you want the ability to modify or enhance your PDFs within interactivity, form fields, multimedia files and more, you will need to get Acrobat Pro. So it really does depend on what you need to do with your PDFs once they have been created. That's why I suggest you download the free trial of Adobe Acrobat Pro and spend some time with it to see what it can do.
You can also checkout our Acrobat 9 Pro Training on the lynda.com Online Training to really run Acrobat 9 through it paces. But that's how you create PDFs on your PC. Yes, it does take additional software being installed, but you can view and create PDFs for free from any Windows computer.
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