1. Home
Send to a Friend via Email

Create PDF Files for Free

Three free and easy ways to create PDF files for free

By

The Adobe PDF document format has become the standard way to publish and share formatted text and graphics. We can all get the Adobe Reader for free and use it to view PDF files. However, if you want to create a PDF file, Adobe wants to charge you hundreds of dollars for Adobe Acrobat software.

That may be fine for large corporations that don't mind paying big bucks for the ability to create PDF files. However, for you and me, the price of Adobe Acrobat is just too steep. Fortunately, there are a number of free ways to create PDF files.

Actually, there are many free PDF creators and converters out there, but most of them either have limitations or some significant other drawbacks. Here are the best three free PDF file creation options I have encountered:

OpenOffice.Org

In my opinion, this is the best way to create PDF documents for free. If you already have a recent copy of OpenOffice.org you have what you need to create PDF files. Just open the document in one of the OpenOffice.org applications, click on the file menu and choose export to PDF. If you don't have OpenOffice.Org you can download it for free and use use it at home or in a business setting at no cost. The software is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Solaris and in a number of different languages.

PDFCreator

PDFCreator is basically a print driver that produces PDF files instead of sending your document to a printer. The main reasons you might want to use PDFCreator instead of OpenOffice.Org is that it is an extremely small program and will allow you to create PDF files directly from any application that you can print from. You just print your document and select the PDFCreator driver instead of another print driver.

The only two drawbacks to PDFCreator that I can see are that it doesn't preserve hyperlinks in a document and it doesn't give you options like the amount of compression to use and whether to use security options in your PDF file.

There is an open source program that works like PDFCreator but gives you lots more options. However, it still will not preserve hyperlinks. You can download PDFCreator if you need the extra flexibility.

PDF Online

There are a number of online PDF converters, but most of them require registration and make you jump through various hoops to get your PDF file. PDF Online only requires that you supply an email address to use for receiving your PDF file.

PDF Online reduces image resolution, does not preserve hyperlinks, and will not process a file larger than 2 megabytes. I only recommend an online PDF converter if you just need a quick conversion and can't install OpenOffice.Org or a print driver based PDF creator.

Bonus Tip

Here is a bonus tip that can be very useful. If you have a computer with OpenOffice.org, a scanner, and a printer, but don't have a copier you can still copy documents. Open OpenOffice.Org Writer and click on the insert menu. Choose pictire and then choose scan and you can scan the document into Writer. Now just choose print and you have just made a copy.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.