Did you know there are many advantages converting documents such as Word or PowerPoint to PDFs? When a file is converted to a PDF it is usually compressed, resulting in a smaller file. Files saved as PDFs are self-contained and can be shared easily. The recipient does not need to have the same program or hardware that the original file was created in. PDFs make it easy to transmit files between computers and mobile devices that have different applications.
An added feature is that most PDF programs also allow you to put on extra security measures such as watermarks, passwords, or data encryption.
A disadvantage to saving files as PDFs is that it makes it a bit more difficult to change, revise or edit easily. However, some of the programs listed below do offer editing features. And there are other programs available that can easily convert PDFs to Word documents or other editable document formats.
The following is a list of FREE tools to convert documents to PDFs. The top three choices highlighted in yellow are the Editor’s Choice.
1. Adobe Reader XI – This list would not be meaningful if we didn’t list the granddaddy of them all--Adobe Reader. Adobe Reader has long been a trusted name when it comes to file sharing, editing, and viewing. This link is to a release that contains the program to allow you to also view and print PDFs. In addition, it has some editing capabilities. It allows you to fill out PDF forms, annotate on pages, verify digital signatures, plus other features.
2. Doro PDF Writer – Making PDF documents that look professional is easy with this program. The PDF converter works a little differently than Adobe Reader XI. It operates with any Windows application as long as that program can print. How it works is it simply installs a virtual printer on your computer and it’s ready to use. Another great feature is the ability to password protect your files and install a 128-bit encryption.
3. CutePDF Writer – Similar to Doro, CutePDF installs a virtual printer on your system and operates with all Windows applications. CutePDF is as easy as sending your document to a printer. It also is quick and simple to install – it takes seconds. CutePDF was selected as one of the "50 best free downloads" by Computer Shopper.
4. PDFill PDF Tool – If you’re looking for an all-in-one PDF tool, this program is an excellent choice. This program, unlike many of the other PDF creation programs, has text-editing capabilities. This means you’ll be able to create PDF files from scratch, without the use of any other application. Other useful functions include the ability to merge, split, reorder, crop and reformat PDF pages.
5. jPDF Tweak – This application promises to be the ‘Swiss army knife of PDF files’ and it doesn’t disappoint. Similar to the PDFill PDF tool, this application allows you to combine, rotate, re-order, encrypt and tweak PDF files. There are many output types for this application, including printable booklets. The application is based on Java, which makes it ideal for portable devices. It also has a strong password protection capability. Once you’ve put in a password, you won’t be able to remove it.
6. PDFTK Builder – This PDF converter tool is fast and easy to use. It’s a straightforward application, and has all the necessary tools to make and edit PDF files. PDFtk Builder has a graphical user interface (GUI). The GUI makes it easier to access PDFtk’s functionality. This program has a user-friendly interface on top of the functionality provided by PDFtk. The following functions are available: collate, split, watermark, rotate. PDF password protection is available.
7. Bullzip PDF Printer – Like other programs on this list, the Bullzip PDF printer application operates as a virtual printer and can work with any Windows application. It has advanced features that are useful for generating professional-looking PDF files, regardless of your text-editor. It also has encryption capabilities and a special option for eBooks. It has no PDF editing options.
8. PrimoPDF –Similar to Bullzip and CutePDF, this program operates a virtual printer and works with Windows applications. It does not change text formats when converted - a huge bonus. Another selling point is the speed and ease when converting files. A drawback to this software is at times graphics are reformatted.
9. PDFCreator – With PDFCreator you can convert regular text files to high-quality PDFs as well as to other popular formats - PNG, JPEG, and TIF. It’s a very basic program, which is good for those who don’t want a huge fuss with their PDF converters. The program provides a few editing options - such as date and time and the ability to password protect.