The computer helper: Tips and tricks for PDFs
May 10, 2008, 11:45 GMT
Washington - Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) has proliferated. Originally designed as a file format that allows content creators to distribute documents to those who did not have the application that created them, PDF files are now found widely on the Internet, and they've become standard among businesses, as well. Viewing PDFs is easy - you just download and install Adobe's free Acrobat Reader. But creating them or working with them can present challenges. Read on for some tips on how to master PDFs.
Q: How can I speed up PDF viewing?
A: You've probably noticed that Acrobat Reader is not the quickest application to launch. As Adobe has piled on the features over the years, load and viewing times have increased as well. That's troublesome for those who simply want PDF files to open as quickly as possible so that the content can be viewed.
There are a couple of routes you can take to speeding things up. First, there's a free application called Adobe Reader SpeedUp that's widely available on the Internet. Snapfiles has it (http://www.snapfiles.com/get/adobespeedup.html), among other places.
One reason Adobe Reader is so slow to start up is that it utilises a lot of plug-ins by default. These plug-ins - small applications that add functionality - are useless to most people but do add some functionality. Adobe Reader SpeedUp can disable those plug-ins, thereby leaving you with just the reader.
Another route you can take is to ditch the Adobe Reader application altogether and use an alternative. Although the PDF file format was created by Adobe, plenty of reader knock-offs now exist, and some of these have grown popular, largely because they're fast.
One of the most popular is Fixit Reader (http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php). Boasting small size and quick start-up times, Foxit runs under all current versions of Windows and supports most of the functionality that the full-blown Adobe Reader does. It's worth a try.
Q: Can I create PDFs without the expensive Adobe Acrobat?
Yes, there are several routes you can take. First, free products exist that will convert files to PDF from a number of popular applications. PrimoPDF (http://www.primopdf.com/), pdf995 (http://www.pdf995.com/), and CutePDF (http://www.cutepdf.com/Products/CutePDF/writer.asp) are downloadable applications that will generate compatible PDF files. You won't have the number of sophisticated tools for protecting PDFs that you'd get with the full-blown Adobe package, but you will get basic PDF creation, which is all that many people need.
Or you could use a free online conversion site such as PDF Online (https://www.pdfonline.com/convert_pdf.asp) or PDF Converter (http://www.freepdfconvert.com). With these services, there's no need to install any application on your computer. Instead, you simply upload a file from your Web browser, and the service will convert it for you, sending you the resulting PDF as an e-mail attachment.
Q: Can I convert a PDF to a Word document?
A: Yes, there are several tools available that can do the job. How well they do, however, depends upon a lot of factors, including whether the tool is compatible with the version of Acrobat that was used to create the PDF.
The better tools for this job are not free. Nuance's PDF Converter 5 (http://www.nuance.com/pdfconverter/) will convert PDFs to a number of popular office file formats, including Word and WordPerfect. The tool costs 99 dollars.
Investintech offers a competing product, Able2Extract (http://www.investintech.com/able2extract.html), which claims to do a better job than other tools in preserving the format of the document or spreadsheet from which the PDF was created. Able2Extract costs 129 dollars.
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