Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Converting your files to PDF for free

One of the frequently asked how-to is how to convert an editable file into a non-editable file so that they can be distributed without fear of the file being changed and credited to another person. To me, the simplest way of doing this is to convert it to PDF (Portable Document Format).

The popular software associated with PDF is Adoba Acrobat Reader, and this is free. If you have Ubuntu or similar operating systems, most probably, it would have a PDF reader installed. Simply put, the software to read non-editable files is available and most often free.

However, the software needed to create a non-editable file or a PDF file is not always free. Since we know the software needed to read it in Windows (which is the popular operating system), we might be tempted that the software needed to create it is the same. This way of thinking leads us to the idea that only one company can provide that possibility, and if we continue in that way, we end up with the idea that we have to pay for the PDF creator software of Adobe.

Such is not the case, however. If you just know where to find the appropriate software, there are numerous ways of accomplishing the same objective: converting your file to PDF.

There are two general ways of doing this: Use OpenOffice.Org or download a free PDF-converting software.

Using OpenOffice.Org 3.0 is pretty straightforward. Just click File - Export as PDF. This will ask you to go through some security-related options, but basically it is like any exporting or save-as process. If you have a file created in MS Word or Excel, for example, you can open it with OpenOffice.Org and do File - Export As.

Unfortunately, you might not be able to export it as perfectly as you want, simply because of adjustments or changes in the importing process. For example, some fonts might change a bit, or the placement of an image may shift. This option is really best if you have created a file from OpenOffice.Org.

Another limitation with this option is for file types which cannot be imported by OpenOffice.Org. I had this challenge when I wanted to convert to PDF a Publisher file which I wrote for a printable version of an online newsletter. Clearly, there was no option for OpenOffice.Org to import a .pub file and export it into a .pdf.

That is when I tried to search for another option: To download a PDF conversion application. There are many out there, but I caution you to take note of the limitations or price (not in terms of money always).

I have used CutePDF, a free software which functions like an additional printer in your computer, but instead of printing it on paper, creates a PDF file in your computer. I personally like it because it is easy to use and it has no advertising attached to it--that is, it pastes no watermark (which I experienced with BCL PDF Printer Driver's free trial version) on your work. Just make sure to download and install the GPL Ghostscript 8.15, available at the same site (or click here to download). All in all, you download and install two applications, then open the file, print using CutePDF, and voila! You now have a PDF format from your previous file.

This option can be used with any file type that can be printed, be it a FreeMind file, JPG, Publisher, or others.

Most of the free PDF converters are like CutePDF in function, such as PDFConverter, an open source project. Just take note of the system requirements, although most of these PDF Converters have minimal requirements.

If you are using a Macintosh computer, unfortunately, I have no idea. If you have one, please feel free to share your ideas.

Please feel free to ask your tech questions!

1 comment:

  1. If you are looking for something easy to use and simple for converting your images formats then use the imverter.come for free and online application.