doPDF installs itself in two ways to offer two different methods of creating a PDF file.
The first is as a printer, which means you can convert any printable document to a PDF. The other is a regular program that lets you browse for a file and then convert it to a PDF.
Say, for example, you're working in an Internet browser, word processor, image viewer, or something similar. Instead of printing the information out to a piece of paper, just choose the doPDF printer from your list of printers to save it as a PDF file.
During setup, you can optionally install a Microsoft Office add-in for converting files in Word, Excel, etc. to a PDF.
doPDF can be used at no cost for both personal and commercial use.
PDFCreator is a software bundle that includes not only a PDF creator but also a free PDF reader, called PDF Architect. If you sign up for a free activation code, PDF Architect provides a simple way to create PDFs from clipboard contents, any local file, or a scanner, and it even lets you batch import and combine multiple files to produce a PDF.
The easiest way to use PDFCreator, though, is to simply install the program and then print to the PDFCreator printer. Once you've done so, you can save the PDF to a custom location or email it to someone.
The auto-save option can be enabled so that when you save a file to PDF using the print function, it will save to a predefined location with a specified file name, all without prompting you to confirm anything.
Like most PDF creators, you can change the compression and security settings before saving the PDF. There's also a way to sign your PDF documents through PDFCreator.
Note: Unfortunately, PDFCreator takes a really long time to install. Also, during setup, the installer attempts to make unnecessary browser changes like altering your homepage and default search engine. If you want, you can easily avoid this by deselecting those options before the installer closes.
Most of the programs that make PDFs from this list do so through the print function, and while 7-PDF Printer is built for that specific purpose, 7-PDF Maker uses a regular conversion program instead.
My favorite feature is that you can just right-click any compatible file (they're listed here) and choose Create PDF (7-PDF) to instantly start converting the file to PDF. It'll save it in the same place as the original.
However, if you want to customize the settings for a conversion, just open the program first before you convert the file. You can change the image compression settings, deny permissions and encrypt the document with a password, and pick a place to save the PDF once the file finishes converting.
7-PDF Maker is free for both private and commercial use, and you can either install it like a regular program or download it in a portable form for use on flash drives and other removable devices.
Similar to doPDF, PrimoPDF offers two ways to create PDF files. You can drag and drop a file into the PrimoPDF desktop shortcut and the file will convert automatically and save itself back to the same location as the original file.
Another method is to print to the PrimoPDF printer that gets installed along with the regular program. Doing so will prompt you to save the PDF to a custom location.
In either method, you can also specify advanced settings for the PDF. For example, you can choose document properties like the name, author, and subject of the PDF as well as security settings like password protection and enabling/disabling printing, editing, and/or copying.
PDF24 Creator is much like the other PDF maker programs in this list in that you can print any file to a PDF using any application that supports printing. In addition, you can also add files to the program manually if you don't wish to "print" to a PDF.
One thing I find that separates PDF24 from most of the other programs in this list is that if more than one file is open in the program at once, you can easily drag and drop them in a custom arrangement to produce a PDF with multiple pages, each page being a different file, which is very useful.
Some of the included features let you extract pages from a PDF, preview a PDF before creating it, change the quality of a PDF, choose a custom PDF standard, rotate pages in the PDF, add document properties, password protect the PDF, deny permissions like print and edit (and fill forms, copy/images, add/change comments), as well as use a text watermark, insert a signature, and choose the JPEG compression quality amount.
PDF24 Creator is free for business use and private use, so there are two separate (still completely free) downloads depending how you need to use the program.
Note: A fax service, called PDF24 Fax, is also included with this installation but it's not free to use.
CutePDF Writer can be used for personal or commercial use at absolutely no cost, and it's extremely easy to use.
Just install the program and print to the printer called CutePDF Writer. A few seconds later you'll be asked where you want to save the PDF. It's that easy!
However, because of the simplicity, it also means there aren't any custom settings or advanced options you can change. But if all you want is a simple PDF creator, this program works great.
Note: CutePDF Writer will, unfortunately, change some of your browser settings and install an additional program unless you explicitly say not to during setup.
PDF reDirect is similar to most of the other programs in this list but it also has many settings you can customize. Just print to the PDF reDirect printer and the program will open automatically.
Once the program is open you can make changes to the picture quality, color model, page rotation, and file name. You can also encrypt the PDF and optionally choose to open it with a PDF viewer after it has been created.
PDF reDirect can also embed all the fonts of a file into the newly created PDF, customize the paper size, and change other PostScript and graphics options.
To merge more than one file into one PDF, just print more than one file before creating it. Every file you print will show up in the Merge List section where you can customize the order it will display in the PDF before building it.
Some of the settings may sound confusing and you may never need them, but you can still use the basic function to create a PDF without making any changes. Just print a file to this printer and save it where you wish.
Similar to the above programs, FreePDF Creator installs itself as a printer to let you make a PDF from any printable file.
Once you've chosen to print to a PDF with FreePDF Creator, the program will launch. From there, you can change settings like the output quality, document properties, security, save location, and post-process, such as opening the PDF or emailing it.
FreePDF Creator has an online PDF converter, too so that you can upload a file to their website to convert it to the PDF format.
PDF4Free is another PDF creator that works by installing a printer. Just print to the PDF4U printer to create a PDF file from any application.
To customize PDF4Free's settings, open the properties of the printer it installs. You can embed fonts in the PDF, change the PDF version, and enter summary information like a title and author.
Note: You must restart your computer to complete the install of PDF4Free.
The instructions for installing PDF995 is a bit more of a hassle than the other PDF creators in this list, but the program still works in a similar fashion.
For PDF995 to work properly, you must first install PDF995 Printer Driver, then Free Converter, and then PDFEdit995, all of which are available on the download page in order or installation requirements. To combine and split PDFs, you can optionally install Signature995 along with PDF995.
Open the PDFEdit995 program to customize settings. From there, you can convert the pages of a PDF to image files, choose to automatically compose an email with the attached PDF after creating it, create PDFs in batch from Microsoft Office files, and more.
Note: Unfortunately, a browser pop-up and in-program advertisement to upgrade to the full version of PDF995 is displayed every time you create a PDF.
FreeFileConvert is another PDF creator but it works differently than the programs from above. For starters, you don't have to download anything because it runs solely online. Because of this, you don't "print" to a PDF but instead just upload the file you want to convert and choose PDF as the output format.
You can upload a file as large as 300 MB to FreeFileConvert, but only certain file types are acceptable. The download link to the PDF will be valid for 12 hours before expiring.
One obvious downfall to using FreeFileConvert is that uploading and downloading files can take a long time if you have a slow internet connection or the file is really large.
FreeFileConvert can also reverse its functions and, instead of creating a PDF, convert one to a different format like HTML, DOC, or MOBI.
FileZigZag is another way to create a PDF online for free. It works by having you upload a file to the website and then choosing PDF as the output format.
If you use the advanced converter on their website, you can convert an online file (using its URL) to PDF or make a PDF from a file on your Google Drive account.
Several different types of document file formats can be saved to PDF with FileZigZag, but you can only convert 10 files per day. Another limitation is that files can only be as large as 100 MB for free users and 180 MB if you're logged in to your free account.
Note: You can't wait for FileZigZag to finish building the PDF; you have to enter your email address so you can get the download link sent to you once it's done.
Zamzar works a lot like FileZigZag to make PDFs online. You'll get an email with the download link once the file is converted to PDF.
Files you convert to PDF with this free PDF maker can be as large as 50 MB. If you pay for a Zamzar account, that limit goes up to 2 GB.
FreePDFConvert.com is another online PDF maker where you upload a file to convert it to a PDF file. You can either download the PDF from the website or have it saved to your Google Drive account.
This website can also do the inverse: convert a PDF file to a different format like one compatible with MS Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, or to a JPG/PNG/TIFF image file.
Note: A major disadvantage to using FreePDFConvert.com versus any of the above programs or services is that there is a 60 minute waiting period between creating more than one PDF.
Free Tools to Create PDF Files
Create a PDF for Free Using One of These Tools
These free PDF creators will easily allow you to turn almost any file or document into a PDF file. These can be a lifesaver when you're trying to make a document uneditable and easier to distribute.
The free PDF creators work in a few different ways. Some are free PDF printers so when you want to turn a file into a PDF, you'll just select Print and then choose the PDF printer that you installed. This will work with any printable file.
Another method the free PDF creators use is a drag-and-drop method. In this method, you simply drag a file to a set location and it turns that file into a PDF document.
There are also online free PDF creators where you simply upload a file and then you'll get a PDF file returned to you. Online PDF converters are best suited for smaller PDFs or situations where you don't want to download and install a program to make the PDF.
Some of these free PDF creators are incredibly easy to use and you'll just need a few seconds to convert your files to a PDF. Others take a few minutes but you'll get lots of advanced options such as creating multiple page PDFs, setting the quality of the PDF, and even inserting watermarks and signatures to the finished PDF. Be sure to read the descriptions to see which free PDF creator is best for you.