PDF Files

Sooner or later, almost everyone with a personal computer encounters PDF (portable document format) files. Many a software manual, Read Me file, and downloadable “white paper” comes in this format. Until recently, you needed the free program called Acrobat Reader if you hoped to open or print these files. Windows users still do.

PDF files, however, are one of Mac OS X’s common forms of currency. In fact, you can turn any document (in any program with a Print command) into a PDF file—a trick that once required the $250 program called Adobe Acrobat Distiller. (Maybe Apple should advertise: “Buy Acrobat for $250, get Mac OS X free—and $120 cash back!”)

But why would you want to do so? What’s the big deal about PDF in Mac OS X? Consider these advantages:

  • Other people see your layout. When you distribute PDF files to other people, they see precisely the same fonts, colors, page design, and other elements that you did in your original document. And here’s the kicker: They get to see all of this even if they don’t have the fonts or the software you used to create the document. (Contrast with the alternative. Say you’re sending somebody a Microsoft Word document. If your correspondents don’t have precisely the same fonts you have, then they’ll see a screwy layout. And if they don’t have Word or a program that can open Word files, they’ll see nothing at all.)

  • It’s universal. PDF files are very common in the Macintosh, Windows, Unix/Linux, and even Palm and PocketPC organizer worlds. ...

Get Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Tiger Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.