As you have no doubt noticed, in today’s world, almost all the documentation we receive with our computers, peripheral hardware and software is in the Portable Document Format (PDF) designed by Adobe.
Adobe created the PDF file format and distributed free PDF file readers (Adobe Reader, originally called Adobe Acrobat Reader) for Windows, Linux, Mac and a few other operating systems. Of course, their big, related money-maker was their program to create PDF files called Adobe Acrobat.
But, why are we even interested in PDF files (other than that the data we need is in them)?
The Portable Document Format, combined with the PDF reader programs, is designed to present accurately formatted pages to the person reading the file.
If you’ve ever tried to share a word-processing file with a friend, only to find out that they didn’t have Microsoft Word (or else that could read the file), you know why PDF files exist. If you ever used a cute font in a document and then sent it to a friend — who saw a normal font since they didn’t have that cute font installed on their computer, you know why PDF files exist.
That’s right. With the PDF files, we can make sure that our readers will see the file exactly the way we want them to see it. PDF files won’t reformat the page if the reader’s window is too small, like a web browser will do. PDF files will show images exactly as they are in the document you used to create the file.
If you’re an author, you might be interested in ebooks because you can encrypt the file, you can password-protect the file, you can prevent a reader from highlighting and copying text, or use any of the other content control mechanisms.
If you create a document that you want to make sure doesn’t get changed, such as a registration form for a class, that has a price indicated, you can use PDF features to protect the document.
You can even create PDF files in which the pages are effectively images, just as if they had been scanned.
Can we, as normal users, create PDF files? Why would we even want to?
Yes, of course we can, and without spending the $250 for Adobe Acrobat Standard, too. There are free PDF creator programs and inexpensive PDF creation programs, too. In many cases, the free versions are limited versions that put headers, footers and/or watermarks onto the PDF files they created — and have corresponding paid versions that create clean versions.
Most of these programs set up in Windows as pseudo-printers, such that any Windows program that can print can send its output to the PDF creation program. In most cases, one print command creates one file. The program I use Click2PDF is a paid program and has one feature that I have not found in ANY other program, not even Adobe Acrobat Professional! Click2PDF lets me print multiple times, even from different programs, and then save them all into a single file. I use this frequently to document purchases that I make via the Internet.
Some other programs will let me combine multiple individual files into one larger file, but Click2PDF lets me avoid that extra time-consuming step.
Read my article A Look Inside Click2PDF to see how I use Click2PDF and see screen shots of Click2PDF in action.
If you use Windows 7 or 64-bit versions of Windows XP, Vista or 2000, you need ClickBook. How does it compare to Click2PDF? Same interface, plus it seems like Click2PDF on steroids.