Adobe Acrobat files, or PDF’s as the are commonly called (portable document format), are a great way to distribute documents that you don’t want people to edit.  They are also good because anyone can view them with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader program.  But Adobe’s software for creating PDF’s costs several hundred dollars.  For many people, the advanced features in those programs justify the cost. But if you don’t need all of those features, there are several free programs that will let you create high quality PDFs easily.  And they work with almost every Windows program because when you install them, they set up a printer driver.  When you print to that “printer”, your print job get converted to a PDF instead of going to a physical printer.  The software will ask you what you want to name the file and where you want to save it.

For several years I have used PDF ReDirect.  I think it offers a good balance between features and ease of use.  It produces smaller files than some of the others that I have tried.  And you can merge multiple files into one.  You can download it at www.exp-systems.com.  In case you were wondering how they can offer it for free, they also offer a paid version with more features.

If you want a PDF writer that is extremely simple to use, you might consider CutePDF Writer.  If you like open source software you could try PDFCreator.  Or you can go to www.download.com  and search for “free pdf writer” for a long list of alternatives.  I hope you can find one that works well for you.

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