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11/5/2006: CutePDF Writer [>> Go]

    PDF documents are handy things. Just about everyone has the free Adobe Acrobat Reader on their computer, and PDF documents are used for everything from downloadable product brochures to software manuals provided on CD. PDF documents are a good way of distributing formatted information, because you can be reasonably sure that the recipient will see the document as intended, including colors, pictures, and fonts. What most people lack, however, is a way to create their own PDF documents, since Adobe's PDF Writer software is not free like Reader is. That's where the CutePDF Writer comes in.

    CutePDF lets you print from any application (word processor, Web browser, e-mail client, spreadsheet, etc.) to an Adobe Reader-compatible PDF file. To install CutePDF, you must first download and install GhostScript, which is a free PostScript (a printer language) to PDF conversion tool. Then install CutePDF. Once CutePDF is installed, you will have a new printer in your Printers folder named "CutePDF Writer" (see picture). Then when you print from any application, simply select the "CutePDF Writer" as the destination printer. CutePDF will process the data to be printed (the more pages, the longer this will take), and then prompt you for the location and name you want to save the PDF document to.

    I've been using CutePDF both at home and at work for over a year with excellent results. It is incredibly useful to be able to write up software documentation, print it to PDF, then e-mail it to a client without needing to worry whether they have the same word processing software (and same version) that I have. At home, I can print an interesting Web article to PDF in order to archive it without worrying that the link might change or the site might disappear. CutePDF is not as full-featured as the Adobe Writer software, naturally - you can't edit PDF documents, or create PDF forms that can be filled-out and returned; and you don't have any output quality control options like the Acrobat Writer provides. But CutePDF creates good-quality PDF documents with no ads on the screen or watermarks on the output, and it's free for both personal and commercial use. This is another of the many software tools that has a permanent place on my computer.

©2017 Tyler Chambers