2008 notice: now that OpenOffice can create PDFs natively just by pressing a button, this guide is really useful to create PDF in other applications: everywhere you have access to a “print” function, you can use this procedure to create a PDF.
Yes, there is indeed a way to create a PDF out of every kind of printable document, paying nothing to Adobe, and without any legal infringement. It is called “GhostScript”; it is a freeware tool ported from UNIX environment, distributed under the GNU license, and is capable of coverting any Postscript document to PDF format. What do you need? First, the document , then a fake printer driver, which you will use to create a Postscript file from the data to print, and finally the tool itself, Ghostscript.
There are different kinds of Postscript printers among the ones you can choose in the drivers list which come with Windows, but we’ll take the HP Color Laserjet PS; just do this: [Start > Settings > Printers > Add Printer], then choose “Local Printer”; now, depending from your OS, the screens will appear in a different order, but you just need to select “FILE:” as the printing port:
and select the previously told model, HP Color Laserjet PS, in the Printers list:
If you already have a real printer, I obviously suggest you NOT to set this one as the default printer .
First step completed. When you’ll want to create a PDF, just go in the “Print…” menu of the application (usually [File > Print…]) and select this printer as the output. You will then be asked for the name and the location where you want to put the .PRN file.
Second: you now need the tool to convert from PRN to PDF. Just get Ghostscript from the Downloads/Tools section (you need to get also Ghostview, a preview tool to see how the document will look — you can get both of them also on the official page).
Installed the two tools, start Ghostview, and open from there the PRN file you created; you can now see the screen preview:
Do [File > Convert], select PDFwrite as peripheral, and leave the quality to 600dpi; after this, choose where to put the PDF file.