Free PDF Converters, Editors and Printer Drivers
Create and edit PDF files
Free PDF Converters, Creators, Editors and Printer Drivers
PDF, or the Portable Document Format, is virtually the de facto document format for distributing electronic books on the Internet nowadays. The programs listed on this page allow you to convert your documents to the PDF format. Very often, on Windows, this is done by installing a virtual PDF printer driver into your system. This allows you to create your PDF document using any application you like, be it a wordprocessor, spreadsheet or Powerpoint-like application, and print to the driver using that application. The printer driver, which is not really attached to any physical printer, will convert your output into a PDF file, and allow you to save it somewhere. Some of the PDF converters or drivers listed here have additional features, allowing you to control the output PDF file in a variety of ways, for example, making it searchable, configuring the resolution of the output, adding password-protection, and so on.
The grand-daddy of all PDF converters and printer drivers is, of course, the commercial Adobe Acrobat which boasts more features than can possibly be listed here, including creating password-protected PDF files, allowing you fine-grained control over your output, providing a printer driver that allows you to use your favourite application to create your PDF files, converting PDF files back to Word doc format, and a (very good) editor that you can use to directly create and edit PDF files.
If you want a cheaper product, there is also Nuance PDF Converter Professional, which provides a PDF printer driver and some PDF annotating and modification facilities.
Incidentally, many of the freeware PDF drivers listed below are actually just wrappers over the free GhostScript software, which is also listed below. That is, they pass your document over to GhostScript which does the actual work of creating a PDF file. This means that these drivers (those that use GhostScript) will probably produce identical PDF files from your document.
In addition, if you are looking for a PDF reader, so that you can view PDF files, rather than a way to create PDF files, please see the Free PDF Readers / Viewers page instead.
Free PDF Creators, Converters and Virtual Printer Drivers
- Doro PDF Writer (Windows)
The Doro PDF Writer is a Windows printer driver that allows you to print from any Windows program to a PDF file. It supports 128-bit password protection, as well as the disabling of printing and copy and paste. Like many of the other free PDF drivers listed on this page, it uses GhostScript to generate your PDF file.
- PDF24 Creator (Windows)
PDF24 Creator installs a Windows printer driver that you can select from any Windows program that permits printing. The driver will then create a PDF file instead of physically printing out the page. Features of the software include the generation of password-protected PDF files, the ability to merge PDF documents as well as to split them, create a PDF file from the material displayed on the screen (sort of like a limited version of a screen capture utility that only creates PDF files as output), create PDF files from images scanned into the computer or imported via a Twain interface (like digicams and webcams), put a watermark into a PDF file, etc. Like many of the free software listed here, this program uses GhostScript (see elsewhere on this page) to generate your PDF file. Note: at the time this is written, the site offers you the option to download a "business" version or a "private" version, claiming that one is "optimized for private use" and the other "optimized for business use". I downloaded both and did a binary comparison of the two files and found that both versions are identical.
- GIRDAC Free PDF Creator (Windows)
This software installs itself as a printer driver on your Windows system, allowing you to create PDF files from any software that lets you print a document. Like the other free PDF printer drivers listed here, simply click "File | Print" (or its equivalent) from the program you're using (for example, Word), select the PDF driver, and it will create a PDF document for you.
- CC PDF: Free PDF Converter (Windows)
CC PDF installs itself on your system as a pseudo-printer driver, so that you can create PDF documents from any Windows program that can print. Instead of sending the file to the printer, the driver converts it to a PDF file. If you like, the program can also append a Creative Commons License page to your document. (The Creative Commons License is a type of copyright licence that lets you specify what your readers can do with your document.) The program is open source and licensed under the GNU General Public License.
- PDFCreator (Windows)
PDFCreator allows you to create PDF files from any program that can print. It supports encryption of your PDF files to protect them from being opened, printed, etc. It also allows you to merge multiple files into a single PDF file. Under the hood, it uses GhostScript (see elsewhere on this page) to do the work. The program is open source and is released under the terms of the GNU General Public License. The program works on Windows. Warning: when I last tried it (with version 0.9.8), the installer tried to download (and possibly install) the Yahoo toolbar on your system, even after I unchecked the Yahoo toolbar option in the installer. I suggest that you either block the installer with your firewall or physically disconnect from the Internet while installing.
- Bullzip Free PDF Printer (Windows)
The Bullzip PDF Printer is a virtual driver for Windows; when you print to that driver from any Windows programs, it produces a PDF file. It is free only for personal and commercial use of up to 10 users. It works on both 32 bit and 64 bit Windows systems. You can protect your PDF files with a password and encrypt it, set the quality of the output (whether to screen, printer, as a ebook or prepress copy), set the document properties, insert a watermark, superimpose documents or put them into the background, append or prepend documents, etc. It also supports various graphic output types, like BMP, JPEG, PCX, PNG, TIFF and of course PDF. This PDF driver requires GhostScript to work (it'll download it for you if you want).
- GhostScript (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, etc)
GhostScript is an interpreter for PostScript. It takes its PostScript input and sends it to an output device, which may be a printer, display, or a PDF file. It is also able to convert PDF files to PostScript. GhostScript is distributed under the GNU General Public License. It is available for many systems, including Windows, Linux, all POSIX systems (including BSD, Linux and Unix operating systems), MacOS, Amiga, etc. The link above is to the GhostScript main site and the main download links are for the source code. To get the executables for your system, click "Links to other sites" on the main page. Many of the free PDF printer drivers on this page use GhostScript as their underlying engine.
- doPDF Free PDF Converter (Windows)
doPDF is a free PDF converter that works by installing a virtual PDF printer driver into your Windows system. You can create a PDF file using your favourite wordprocessor, spreadsheet or office suite (any brand) and print to that driver. The software will then generate a PDF file for you. It works on Windows 2000, XP, 2003 and Vista (both 32 and 64 bit).
- CutePDF Writer - Create PDF Files (Windows)
CutePDF Writer installs itself as a printer subsystem in Windows systems, allowing you to create PDF files from any Windows application that can send a document or file to the printer. The driver converts the document into a PDF file. It requires a converter like GhostScript to be installed. The software works on Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, 2003 and Vista (both 32-bit and x64 versions for XP, 2003 and Vista). Note that if you do not already have GhostScript installed, you will need to download and install both the "Writer" and the "Converter" (which is GhostScript).
- PDF4Free - Free PDF Writer, Creator and Converter (Windows)
PDF4Free is a printer driver for Windows that converts documents sent to it to PDF. This software is crippled somewhat, and can only be used for personal and non-commercial use. Warning: Your documents are also "tagged" with the PDFCreator PDF4Free brand. It supports custom paper sizes, title, subject, keyword and author information, font embedding, and printing scaling. This PDF converter works on Windows NT SP 3+, 2000, XP and Server 2003.
- pdf995 - Create PDF Documents (Windows)
Pdf995 is an ad-supported printer driver that works in conjunction with a converter to generate a PDF file from files that you print from any application in Windows. It supports custom page sizes, large format printing, network file saving, shared printing, etc. Another application, the PdfEdit995 allows you to combine documents into a single PDF, insert links, insert hierarchical bookmarks, convert PDF files to HTML or doc (text only though), etc. Warning: the software will start up your web browser and display an advertisement each time you run them.
- Gymnast (Windows)
Gymnast is a free ASCII text to PDF converter. It supports hyperlinks, bookmarks and annotations. It works on Windows 9x or NT. This program is no longer maintained.
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