Using PDF Files on a Mac

Using PDF Files on a Mac
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Creating PDFs in Mac OS X

Creating a useful portable file that cannot be edited or amended without permission is the true purpose of the Adobe PDF format, and there are various ways in which you can create a PDF on a Mac.

You don’t need Adobe Acrobat, simply a suitably configured application that is capable of generating documents in PDF (portable document format) which can then be easily shared with colleagues and friends as necessary. PDFs can also be password-protected at the point of creation, allowing you to be reasonably confident that they won’t be read by any unauthorized persons.

Various popular applications can create or use PDFs. For instance, Microsoft Publisher files can be converted to PDF, as can Microsoft Word documents. If you wished to create a PDF from a Pages document, but don’t have a copy of Pages on your computer you can do this by opening the document in Microsoft Word for Mac and then saving it as a PDF.

There are several cool ways of using PDFs to enhance your enjoyment of your Mac. For instance, you can create a PDF document listing all of the tracks in your iTunes library! Meanwhile you can embed PDF documents in Microsoft Word for Mac and open them via hyperlinks.

Using PDFs Online

There are also ways in which you can use PDF documents online. The obvious way is to send them via email, and it is really quite simple to add a PDF file as an attachment to an email message.

You might regularly find PDF files on the web that you want to read. Rather than downloading them to your Mac, you can easily read them using a browser plugin. Firefox has an Adobe Reader plugin available, although the same feature is readily available in Safari.

Did you know that several web services can allow you to view PDF documents in the browser windows? For instance, the Blogger service can display PDF documents that are uploaded via Google Docs. If you have a PDF that you have created on your Mac and wish to share online, this is a great option.

Converting PDF Files on Mac OS X

The business of creating PDFs on a Mac can be a little bit frustrating from time to time, especially if you’re trying to get a file to match a pre-determined image resolution. Converting PDF files is another matter entirely. Fortunately there are many PDF document converters available for Mac OS X, such as File Juince which will convert a PDF into a Word file, or AnyBizSoft’s 6-in-1 Converter for Mac.

Ultimately, the onus is on you to not have to convert from PDF. Sadly the results are regularly below par, and don’t serve as a useful representation of the original document. As a result you might find that you are spending time editing the document back into shape when it might have been just as easy to retype it!

PDFs and OCR

PDFs can be scanned just as easily as paper documents, as long as you have the right software. This could be a great option if you have OCR software installed, and could prove a much better option than one of the hit and miss PDF converters discussed above.

Various free OCR tools are available for Mac OS X, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a useful solution.

On a related note, when creating PDFs by any of the methods discussed here, you may find that the file isn’t correctly created if you don’t have the right fonts installed on your Mac. While this shouldn’t happen (PDF doesn’t rely on fonts for reading) it could result in people being unable to read the document. Fortunately there are ways around this problem.

Managing PDF Files on Your Mac

It’s easy to get carried away with PDFs, either collecting them from emails and the web or by creating them or converting them from other formats. As a result you should be aware of ways in which you can manage files on your Mac.

There are various Finder tweaks that you can use to make it easier to index documents, for instance, just as adding labels to your folders will improve performance both for yourself and your Mac when you are looking for PDFs. You should also consider shrinking your PDF files if you find that you are running out of space.


  • Screenshot provided by author.