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Like the GIF (that’s Graphics Interchange Format), the PDF (Portable Document Format) has survived and flourished through the digital age. That’s partly because of its versatility: It’s the go-to document format when you want to make sure that it’s going to look the same no matter what device it’s opened on.

PDFs remain ubiquitous and straightforward to use, and it’s not difficult to generate them from just about any app without expensive tools or complicated processes. If you want or need to deal in PDFs, follow the steps below to see what your options are, depending on the files and platforms you’re working with.

Windows and macOS

The best trick for creating PDFs in Windows is to go to the print option in whatever program you’re in, and then choose Save as PDF in the printers list rather than an actual printer—hey presto, you’ve got a digital document you can save and share anywhere. In Google Chrome, for example, click the three dots (top right), then Print, and then choose Save as PDF in the Destination drop-down.

This should be an option in just about every program that you come across on Windows, although certain applications will have more specific PDF-related features. The ability to save as PDF is built right into Microsoft Word for Windows, for example: Choose File, then Save as, and PDF is listed as one of the file types to the left of the Save button. Choose More options and you can set the quality of the PDF too.

Screenshot of Microsoft Word printer options

You can print a PDF from almost any Windows program.

Microsoft via David Nield

Over on macOS, you’ve got exactly the same shortcut as on Windows. Get to the print dialog from any of your programs, and then in the Destination drop-down, pick Save as PDF. So in the Safari web browser, for example, you can turn any webpage into a PDF by choosing File and then Print, and then selecting the PDF option (lower left). Pick Save as PDF to choose a filename and destination, and you can even add password protection to the document if you want to.

There’s PDF functionality built right into Finder as well. If you select multiple files and then Ctrl+click on the selection, you can pick Quick Actions and Create PDF to do just that (most common file types are supported). You’re able to build PDFs in the Preview tool too: As long as you have a PDF open in Preview, you can drag any file type into the table of contents sidebar on the left to add it as an extra page. (If you can’t see the table of contents, choose View and Table of Contents.)

Screenshot of iLovePDF options on computer

iLovePDF offers a wealth of PDF-related functionality.

iLovePDF via David Nield

You’ll find a host of useful PDF tools out on the web that you can access from any browser. Take ILovePDF, for instance, which does everything from merging PDFs to adding watermarks to rotating PDF documents. You can turn images into PDFs by clicking JPG to PDF, and pointing the website towards a file on your computer, in Google Drive or in Dropbox—choose your page size and margin options, then click Convert to PDF to get the finished document.

Another all-purpose PDF website worthy of your attention is PDF2Go, which we like due to its simplicity: In terms of converting other files to PDFs, you can drop files into the browser window, you can add them from cloud storage accounts, and you can even point towards URLs on the web. With a premium account (€7.50 or about $8 a month) you can even extract editable text from the files you’re converting.

Android and iOS

When it comes to Android, your first port of call should probably be the app that you’re creating the original file in. In the case of Google Docs for Android, with a document open you can tap the three dots (top right), then choose Share and export, Save as, and PDF document to generate a PDF—you can then view it onscreen, share it with others, and download it to your device.

As you might have predicted by now, the classic print-as-PDF option is available on Android too. Find the Share button in any app, and that should lead you to Print, and from there you can pick Save as PDF as the printer. It’s also worth noting that Google Drive for Android lets you scan images and convert them instantly to PDFs: Tap the + (plus) button in the lower right corner of the main screen and pick Scan to get started.

Screenshot of PDF options on Android

Google Docs for Android supports PDF exports.

Google via David Nield

There are plenty of Android apps around to help you create, edit, and otherwise manipulate PDFs on your device—the best way to discover new ones is to search the Play Store for the particular task you need to do (like convert an image to PDF). We like the freemium Foxit PDF Editor, which lets you view, annotate, share, edit, optimize, and reorganize PDFs, plus more besides.

If you’re working on an iPhone, there are a few different ways to go about creating a PDF. From the Files app that comes with iOS, for example, you can convert images into PDF files by long pressing on them and choosing Create PDF from the menu that comes up. That PDF will then be saved in the same location as the original image.

Screenshot of document options on iPhone

Image-to-PDF conversion is built into the Files app on iOS.

Apple via David Nield

You can use the Print function in iOS to turn almost anything into a PDF too. From within whatever app you’re using, tap the Share button and choose Print—but don’t worry if there are no printers connected. On the print preview, pinch and zoom on the file thumbnail to bring up a PDF preview, which you can then save or share elsewhere by tapping on the Share button.

As on Android, you’ve got a wealth of third-party apps available too that will help you in your PDFing. One of the most popular and commonly recommended is the freemium PDFelement, which packs in tools for viewing, editing, annotating, signing, and organizing PDFs. It also excels at PDF conversion and creation, and you can use it to merge PDFs together right on your iPhone.

Source: Wired – Gear