If you have your own small business, you’ve probably already realized the benefits of free software! Yes, it’s nice to get a little tech support buying software from big companies like Microsoft, Adobe, etc., but sometimes the price goes over everything.
In all fairness, buying Adobe Acrobat for everyone in our company to be able to create PDFs would be a terrible waste of money. There are many high quality programs you can use to create PDF files quickly and easily for free. Of course, there aren’t many programs out there that can do what Microsoft Exchange can, so that’s another story.
But if you’re looking for a simple and elegant solution to create PDF documents for free and get the same results as if you were using a commercial application, then check out the following list of my favorite PDF writers and printers below.
Free PDF creation apps
CutePDF is by far one of the best programs for creating PDF documents on the fly. It is usually installed on your computer as a new printer, and whenever you want to create a PDF document, just print it on the CutePDF printer.
It works on all operating systems from Windows 98 to Windows 10 64-bit. It is fast and creates small PDF files. Another great feature of CutePDF is that it has some advanced features, such as an API, so that you can integrate the PDF creation capability into your custom applications and even into a Citrix or terminal server environment.
PrimoPDF is another basic PDF creation tool that’s easy to use but has ads in it. It works in the same way as CutePDF, anything you can print can be converted to a PDF file. It has one nice feature: it can create PDFs of different sizes depending on what you want to use it for: online viewing, e-books, office printing and prepress (high quality printing).
You can also combine multiple PDF files and protect your PDF files with passwords. You can also add metadata such as title, author, subject, etc. to your document.
Bullzip probably has the most features of all the PDF creators listed here. Here’s a list of some of the features you might be interested in: the ability to password protect PDFs, the ability to encrypt a PDF, the ability to add a watermark, the ability to merge PDFs, the ability to choose output quality, and the ability to change metadata.
It also includes translations to many other languages, so if you have a company with offices around the world this is a good choice. For IT professionals, it can be controlled through the command line and has a COM / ActiveX interface so you can control it programmatically. It works with Windows 10, 8, Vista and XP as well as server versions of Windows.
doPDF is similar to CutePDF in terms of the features it has to offer. It is a basic PDF creation tool that gives you the ability to control the output quality that other programs do, but they have more options. In general, probably not worth using, unless you can get something else to work.
It supports 64 bit systems and does not require GhostScript like CutePDF Writer. In addition, PDFs are searchable. Bullzip has most of the features, but for some reason doesn’t always produce searchable documents. This works in some programs like Word, but not Excel.
PDFCreator is probably the second best PDF creator on this list in terms of features. It is not as simple as CutePDF Writer and has almost the same number of features as Bullzip, except for 64-bit support and lack of watermarking capabilities.
The great thing about PDFCreator is that it also has a server installer that can be configured on your print server and therefore used over the network without having to deploy it separately on each computer. If you don’t need all of Bullzip‘s features, this might be the best option for a small business network.
TinyPDF is another very simple PDF creation tool like CutePDF This is only good if you want to install something very tiny and fast. It lacks all basic features like password protection, encryption, metadata editing, etc.
However, it is very small (586 KB) and converts very quickly. It allows you to add and merge PDF documents and supports large paper sizes for desktop publishers and CAD engineers. Plus, it creates some of the smallest PDF files of all programs. It supports Windows XP up to Windows 10.
Finally, there is PDF995, which allows you to print any PDF document for free. It also has tons of other features, which makes it pretty cool. However, I don’t like that it displays ads if you’re using the free version. I’ve mentioned a few that don’t display ads, so PDF995 has some stiff competition!
I’m sure there are other programs out there that can create PDFs for free, so if I missed one, post it in the comments! Enjoy!