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PDF Files: Creating, Searching, and Using

written by: Austin•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 5/10/2011

The PDF filetype is one that has become incredibly popular over the last several years for its wide array of use in displaying readable text and documents. For some people, however, the PDF is a new concept, and learning how to create and use them is a challenge. Here's a guide to doing just that.

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    Creating PDFs

    The start of the line when it comes to PDF (Portable Document Format) files is the idea of creating them, and thankfully that's actually easier done than said. If you're on a Mac, chances are you use one of two word processors: "Microsoft Word", or Apple's "Pages". Both of these offer you the ability to easily view this type of document and save them, as I'm sure you're aware, but only one of them actually allows you to export your written files into a fully searchable PDF file. That one is Pages.

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    Using Pages to Export Your Files as PDFs

    Picture 3 Whether you've had 'Pages' for a long time or you're just getting started using it, you've probably noticed that you need to convert those pesky .pages files into some other format, usually .doc. If you've been using 'Pages' itself to convert your files into other formats, then congratulations, you probably already know how to export them into PDF format, but if you've been using an outside program that you downloaded from the Internet to take care of the conversation process, then you'll be very happy to learn that there is a much easier way.

    After you finish typing your document in 'Pages' (whether it's 5 words long or 5000 words long), your first instinct will be to save it so you don't lose precious data. That's a good habit, and it's essentially necessary in order to export your file AND keep a backup copy of it. After you save your file, go back to the "File" menu in the top left and bring your cursor down to the option that says "Export". Click on it.

    What comes up is a menu, like the one shown on the right, with four options: PDF, Word, RTF, and Plain Text. While all four of them are very useful, we want the PDF option. Click on it, and click "Export".

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    Using Your Newly Made PDF

    Picture 5 After you click "Export", you're basically done- that is to say your PDF is done being made, with the actual creation of the file. Now, in essence, you know how to create searchable PDF for Mac OS X, but do you know how to use it?

    After you export the file, you'll need to locate it in your computer, but it should be located right next to where you saved the original file, so that shouldn't be too hard. After you located it, right click on it, select "Open With", and then choose the program "Preview" from the drop down list. This ensures that the file you created will be opened with the right program.

    Next, you'll want to press the hotkey "Apple+F". If you're unsure what this means, look at the button directly to the left of your spacebar. It should have a picture of an apple on it. If you hold that down and push the "F" key on your keyboard, you should see a small box come up. Type in the word you're searching for, and it should take you to the first entry of that word in your PDF. There could be multiple pages, so if you need to scroll through them, hit the "Return" key however many times you want to look.

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    References:

    1. Information Reference: All information is taken directly from author knowledge of the mentioned programs.

    2. Image Reference: All images are screenshots taken by the author.