thumbnail-docIcon-150x150PDF files have become one of the primary file formats for sharing information and documents.  It is hard to browse websites without finding multiple links to these types of documents.  A quick search of my work laptop turned up 147 different PDF files.  These include instruction manuals for routers, documentation on how to configure VPN, release notes on new versions of Laserfiche and copies of my Quarterly Reviews.  I would hate to see how many of them we have on our shared network drive.  The usefulness of PDF files is not restricted to the office.  I know when tax time comes around PDF copies of every type of document you can think of start moving between my e-mail and my wife’s.  I might pay the bills, but she is the CPA, who does the taxes. When she completes them, you can bet that I don’t keep a paper copy.  A PDF version is made and stored for future reference.  The use of PDF files are limitless. The issue comes with trying to get your document in the PDF format.  Well, if you have been struggling with the decision to purchase Adobe Acrobat Standard with a price tag of about $169 dollars a copy, you have other options.

So, how do you avoid the $169 option? Well, you go with some freeware.  And when I’m say freeware, I really mean some software that doesn’t cost you anything. It is fully licensed for Commercial and Non-Commercial use and it works really well.  You don’t get ads from the software. Your documents don’t get stamped with an ugly watermark.  The software of choice that I’m referring to is CutePDF (cutepdf.com).  I have been using this software for years. It works great, if you are just looking to create PDF documents.  If you need some advance features like the ability to create PDF fillable forms, they have a Professional version that you can purchase as well.  There is one caveat and that is the requirement of installing something called PS2PDF Ghostscript writer. But don’t worry, the installation process will download and install this for you, so you don’t have to hunt around for it.

Once this is installed, turning any document into a PDF file is simple.  In fact, there are just three easy steps to follow:

1. Open the document

If you want to PDF a website open your favorite browser and go to the page.  If that word document needs to be converted, fire it up in Microsoft Word.  If it is an e-mail message that you want to keep, open Outlook and bring up the message.

2. Print the document

That is right, if the document can be printed you can PDF it.

3. When the printer options show up asking you to pick your printer, select the printer called “CutePDF Writer” (this was installed with the software).  The printer will prompt you for a file name and location and you’re done.

As simply and quickly as that, you have taken whatever type or document you have open and turned it into a PDF document.  All for free.  Oh, and if you are Windows 8 user like me, then you don’t have to worry. The recent version of the software works perfectly with Windows 8.  If you just want to test it out, I have yet to see it conflict with any Adobe products you might already have installed, so give it a shot.

The direct download link is:  http://http://cutepdf.com/download/CuteWriter.exe

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