The Ultimate PDF Guide: Everything You Need to Know About PDFs

PDFs are a great tool regardless of your situation. Here's a basic PDF guide to help you understand how to convert your documents to them.

The Ultimate PDF Guide: Everything You Need to Know About PDFs

PDF is one of the most common file formats of the digital world.

It has two main things going for it: it’s highly-versatile and it’s easy to use. You can’t go wrong with it as far as read-only file distribution goes.

But, the truth is not everyone is intimately familiar with this file type.

There are some technical nuts and bolts that can be hard to grasp at the outset. We’re here to ward the confusion off. Here is a comprehensive PDF guide designed to inform and guide your endeavors.

PDF in a Nutshell

PDF stands for portable document format.

It has been around for quite some time, since the early 1990s. The original idea of its creator (Adobe) was to facilitate access to documents across hardware and software platforms.

This mission was accomplished with flying colors.

Nowadays, printable forms, digital books, manuals, and scanned documents tend to wear this digital attire. To check whether your file does too, take a look at the extension. If it says .pdf, well, you know what you have in front of you.

In terms of content, the file can hold a variety of elements. We’re talking about text, images, hyperlinks, video, embedded fonts, etc.

Opening a PDF

Opening a PDF file is rather straightforward.

Most browsers on Windows and macOS will do it in their window, which means you don’t even have to download the document. Alternatively, right-click on the file and choose “Open With”.

It will bring up a menu with various options.

Of course, you can always download the file if you want. You just have to seek the “save PDF” button should be in the top right corner. Once that is selected, you store the document on the device and access it at any time.

In case you run Windows 7 or earlier versions, there’s one preliminary step to take. You need to download the (free or paid) tool called Adobe Reader.

It’s an official product and top choice on Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS users. One of the main selling points is a ton of features for controlling the view, editing, sharing, and more.

That said, PDF, as a standardized format, has given rise to other tools and apps. They are third-party products such as web browsers, word processing apps, and third-party software. Some of them are less “bloated” than Acrobat, so they might be worth considering.

File Creation

Furthermore, there’s no shortage of simple techniques to create PDF files.

You can do it out of almost anything— web pages, documents, you name it.

First off, both Windows and macOS have a handy “Print” feature. On Windows 10, for example, there’s a “Print Dialogue Box”, where you can select PDF from the printer list. This option works for all documents one can normally print.

Think in terms of whole web pages, documents, and emails.

Users of Windows 8 and earlier have a handful of options as well. One of them is to utilize a piece of software that is compatible with PDF exports. Google Chrome and Microsoft Office are top choices in this regard.

Chrome and a couple of other browsers also have built-in PDF printing features. That is to say that you can do everything in one place.

A Few Caveats

PDF isn’t the end-all-be-all of file formats.

Microsoft Word is an immensely popular tool for document creation, editing, and sharing. It’s a default format for various use cases and it probably needs no introduction. However, there are instances in which you simply prefer working with PDF.

Let’s say your priority is to ensure you have the original version of the file. Well, PDF format is primarily designed for viewing, not editing. It preserves formatting/layout and renders it properly across devices.

This feature makes sharing and collaboration with others seamless.

In other situations, you may be required to edit a PDF document and fill in personal information. The special feature “form fields” enables just that.

After typing new information or doing formatting, you can save the changes in the document. However, if you want the file to stay in PDF format, you have one basic option.

It’s to purchase Adobe Acrobat DC. Unfortunately, the price tag is a bit steep. The Standard DC version goes for $12.99/month, while the Pro version separates you from $14.99 every month.

Conversion Process

If you can’t afford the paid tool or don’t really need it (you just want to edit a document or two), fret not.

The good news is there is a host of online converters that do everything in no time. Most of them are free apps that run in browsers and support conversions from Word to PDF and vice versa.

All you have to do is upload the document and hit “Convert”.

The software should keep all the elements of the original document, including formatting. This isn’t a guaranteed outcome though, especially when handling complex layouts and formatting. So, just in case, inspect the converted document for potential deviations and correct them.

Lastly, bear in mind you can convert PDF to other popular formats, such as JPG. If you want to learn the ins and outs of the conversion process on Mac, check out this link: Everything is explained in layman’s terms.

The list of options, tools, and methods goes on. Therefore, feel free to explore other avenues on your own. The PDF ecosystem is immensely vast and increasingly diverse.

Time to Make Use of Our PDF Guide

Many file types have vanished into obscurity, but PDF remains at the forefront year after year.

There are a few strong reasons for this prominence. Most notably, PDF keeps formatting, layout, and content of the documents pristine. It’s tailored to easy individual use or smooth collaboration with others.

And it also doesn’t matter which device and OS you use. It tends to work like a charm.

Your job is to arm yourself with the technical know-how and add suitable readers and converters to your digital arsenal. Use our PDF guide as a roadmap for navigating file formats and bridging the gaps between them.

Keep up with our tech news to discover even more tips and tricks. More power to you!

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