From messages in bottles, to carrier pigeons, to the telegraph, snail mail, fax machines and the internet, technology has come a long way in simplifying the sending and receiving of written text. Consider the PDF. Created way back in 1993 by a company called Adobe System, the Portable Document Format or PDF, has become the universal or “open standard” for allowing digital documents to be exchanged, opened, reviewed and printed in their original form, regardless of what hardware, software or operating systems are involved.

Since those early days other programs for creating PDF files independent of Adobe have become available, with Microsoft Word---a program which allows you to create “no brainer” PDF files by merely saving any file as a .pdf---being the most popular. For those who don’t have Microsoft Word, here are 4 free PDF-creating programs to consider.

4 Free Ways to Create PDF Documents

4 Free Ways to Create PDF Documents


A simple way to describe OpenOffice is that it’s a lot like Microsoft Word---without the price tag. Being a complete office suite that’s free and very easy to install, Openoffice can be incorporated at any time on any computer platform, i.e. Microsoft Windows, Linux, Apple/Mac. This means that as a new user of OpenOffice you can read and share existing files regardless of what previous software program created them.

Plus you now have the capability to not only create, edit, and export brand new PDF files, but also import, edit, and export PDF files sent from other users---even if those files were created using different software.

2. GoogleDocs

Offered as a free office suite with your Google account, Google Docs is a cloud-based system that allows you to create, edit, and share PDF files and access them from any computer with an internet connection. And since your files are stored online instead of on your hard drive, they stay safe and secure should your computer ever crash.

Another great benefit of Google Docs is that multiple users from different computers can access and work on the same documents simultaneously, in real time, which can save businesses a lot of time and money. Being that Google Docs operates within your browser---eliminating the need for software installations and updates---as improvements and updates occur they become instantly and seamlessly available to users. To take things a step further, in the Google web store for the Chrome browser there are several free open office apps which offer pretty much all of the perks of Word and Google Docs combined.

3. PrimoPDF

PrimoPDF is a popular pdf converter available as a free download for users of Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP operating platforms. Utilizing the print command from the source program used to create the file, PrimoPDF can convert almost any file to a PDF. Using a handy drag and drop feature for quick file conversion, users can choose to save their PDF files in either single or multiple file folders.

While allowing users to easily create and edit new documents, users can also overwrite preexisting PDF files as well. As an added benefit, PrimoPDF includes the ability to password protect documents to make sure that they are read, edited, and printed in a restricted, secure environment.

4. The pdf995/Adobe Reader Combo

In case you don’t have it already, Adobe Reader is a free downloadable application that allows you to view any PDF file on any Windows based platform. But that’s as far as it goes. To create PDF files you’ll need to install a PDF converter such as pdf995. To keep the process free and easy, download only the pdf995 printer driver as opposed to the entire suite of applications.

Once the driver is installed, select pdf995 in the printer options window and click “print”. Instead of actually being printed, the file will be converted to a PDF document which can then be stored on your computer for future editing and sharing.