TUCOWS ARTICLE

How to Open and Convert PDF Files

Increasingly, people and organizations are distributing documents as PDF files. The key to why is in the name: PDF stands for Portable Document Format, and its aim is to allow all documents to be read on any computer, anywhere. That's all well and good until somebody sends you a PDF file and you find that you can't open it on your computer.
Published: Apr 5, 2007
Author: Jordan Running
Related OS: Windows
Categories:
Office
Software that can help Good for Cow Rating
Foxit Reader 514.0104
Freeware
Download Foxit Reader is a free PDF document viewer and printer, with incredible small size (only...

Opening PDF Files

Increasingly, people and organizations are distributing documents as PDF files. The key to why is in the name: PDF stands for Portable Document Format, and its aim is to allow all documents to be read on any computer, anywhere. That's all well and good until somebody sends you a PDF file and you find that you can't open it on your computer.

Adobe Reader
Adobe Reader

Fortunately, it's easy to get caught up. Adobe created PDF, and Adobe also provides the most popular tools for dealing with it. Adobe Reader is Adobe's program for reading PDF files, and it's a free download for Windows, Mac, or Linux. Adobe Reader acts both as a stand-alone program for reading PDFs on the desktop and as a browser plug-in for reading PDFs online without leaving your web browser.

If Adobe Reader has a failing, though, it's that it's a pretty hefty piece of software, taking up more than 100MB of hard drive space, eating a lot of RAM, and sometimes taking a long time to start. That's where third-party software comes in. Foxit Reader is a free program that does almost everything Adobe Reader does, but at about a tenth the size, and it's often speedier, too.

Foxit Reader
Foxit Reader

Some of the more advanced PDF features aren't supported, but for 99% of everyday documents Foxit Reader does the trick, and fast. It doesn't integrate with web browsers the way Adober Reader does, but as fast as it starts up you might not miss that feature at all. And for those equipped with handheld devices, Foxit also makes a version of Reader for mobile devices.

Converting PDF Files To Another Format

So, someone's sent you a PDF file and you want to convert it to another format like Word or text? There's lots of programs that will do this, but the easiest way is to forgo installing anything and do it online. There are several sites that handle document conversions of all kind, for free. My favorite is Zamzar, which will convert between dozens of different file formats.

Zamzar
Zamzar

All you have to do is click on the "Browse..." button to select the file from your hard drive, choose a format to convert it to, and enter your email address, and when the conversion is complete Zamzar will email you a link to the converted file. If you're not comfortable giving Zamzar your email address, you can try Media Convert, but unlike Zamzar it doesn't let you convert several files at once and doesn't have as many conversion options for PDF files.


About Jordan Running

Blogger since 1999, Jordan Running went pro in 2005 and never looked back. Sometimes programmer, occasional photographer, and serial tinkerer, he decided to to switch to Linux in 2001 but just hasn't quite gotten around to it yet.

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