We’ve been downloading, sharing and printing documents and files of various types we get from the Internet in pdf format for so long we’ve been accustomed to doing just that: download, share and print those files that are ‘encased’ in the .pdf format.
So when the time comes that we ourselves need to create a .pdf file, we find our selves in a very strange and unfamiliar world. A question pops into mind, how do we create or transform a file into the handy pdf format so that we could securely and conveniently share it to the world?
Sure there’s Adobe Acrobat Standard that will let us create pdf files with ease, simplicity and with a professional touch, but are we casual netizens willing to spend almost $200 for a piece of software we would only use from time to time?
Fear not for there are a lot of alternative ways to create our very own pdf files and 98% of the time, it would be totally free, fast and convenient. A Google search would turn up hundreds of free alternatives ranging from plugins to M$ Office, programs that convert files to pdf formats, to free online services that do the conversion for you.
Here are some of the 5 most convenient alternative ways to create our very own pdf files:
- Google Docs – Google’s version of an online document creator. It’s part of the Google Apps suite which is their version of the online office productivity suite. It comes with every regular Gmail or Google Apps account. If you’re not happy with its document creating-capabilities, it could be slow and buggy at times, just create your document on your desktop, upload it into Google Docs and export it in PDF format. All these will take no more than ten minutes depending on your connection speed and the size of the file itself.
- ZohoWriter – another online document creator from the Zoho online office productivity suite from AdventNet, Inc. It is for free, just sign up for an account, verify your email address you signed up with and you’re on your way to online productivity. From my experience, ZohoWriter has a more intuitive interface with more features that resembles M$ Word or any other offline document creator. It’s less buggy and more robust than Google Docs so working with it would be a lot less frustrating. Of course, after you’re done creating your document or uploading it, simply export it as a pdf file and it’s happy days for you.
- Doc2PDF – is simply a document to PDF conversion service from PDFOnline.com. The site is actually a demonstration of their easyPDF software which I really didn’t looked into since it wasn’t for free. 😛 Going back, Doc2PDF doesn’t require users to signup for an account. Simply head on to their conversion page, upload your document directly to their website, rename the file to suit and lastly enter an email address where you want the converted pdf file to be sent because that’s the only way you’ll get the file for free.
Spam or scam alter right? Relax, for they offer a very good tip. Your personal email is not required, you could just create a new one via Gmail, Yahoo! or whatever free email service and use this email solely for this purpose. If you’re not going to use their service or would use something else, simply close that email account or simply forget about it. You avoid more spam and have converted your documents into pdf format, what else would you ask for?
- OpenOffice Writer – This is one of the most popular alternative to M$ Word and its parent suite, the ‘industry standard’ M$ Office. It’s free to download, install and share with everyone else because it’s Open Source. In fact, the French government and its police force has adopted the full usage of the OpenOffice suite about two years ago or so. Just like the first two tools we’ve talked about, OpenOffice Writer can export your documents into pdf format. The beauty of this particular tool is that it’s offline and more stable, and more powerful than its online counterparts. The program itself is free and since it requires no internet connection to export files into pdf formats, you end up saving more.
- AbiWord Processor – this is another great alternative to M$ Word and in fact I’m using this program as my default word processor since April last year after switching from OpenOffice Writer. It can equal the features and functionalities of both M$ Word and OpenOffice Writer but AbiWord is much lighter, (just a 5MB download!), even lighter on system resources and allows me to write in full screen mode removing distractions from my desktop. As for its pdf exporting capabilities, I find it more reliable than OpenOffice Writer’s because it rarely changes the layout of the documents when exporting them into pdf format, sweet!
There are lots more of pdf conversion tools and services out there. These 5 are just the ones that I’ve used and found useful, efficient and worth using. This is not a paid post or review for any of the tools or products I’ve mentioned, but I would dare say and recommend any of each for your pdf conversion needs.
If you have used any of these tools do share your experience, tips or tricks and if you have other, perhaps better alternatives, by all means share it for everyone’s joy.