PDF files have become the industry standard for shared documents, because they have the unique feature of looking exactly the same, either on screen or on printed paper, no matter which operating system or hardware you use. This is possible thanks to the information contained in each PDF file, which includes a fixed layout as well as any used fonts, images and vector graphics.
But there are also some important drawbacks to the PDF format. Splitting a document into several pages or fixing a simple typo, two tasks that can be easily done on any text file, are far more complicated on a PDF document. This is why we’ve decided to compile a list with all the software you need to create, open, manage and edit PDF files for free.
OpenPDF files without hogging resources
If you used Acrobat Reader 7 or 8, you surely went trough the pain of having to wait 30 seconds to open a PDF file. The latest version of the program, Acrobat Reader 9, improved a lot in performance but many users turned to other lighter and faster tools such as Foxit PDF Reader and Cool PDF Reader. Both offer maximum compatibility, though Cool PDF Reader stands out for its size – only 600 KBs. Foxit includes more features and can be embedded into web browsers.
Create PDF documents with a virtual printer
Some years ago you could only create PDF files with Adobe Acrobat and the Distiller module. Luckily now you can choose between quite a few virtual printers that make use of GhostScript to create a fully compatible PDF file out of anything you print, with no limitations or watermarks at all. The most popular one is PDFCreator, though you can also use DoPDF and Bullzip. DoPDF produces smaller files, while Bullzip can encrypt the file and add watermarks.
Open PDF files in Microsoft Office and OpenOffice
Being able to open a PDF file from a productivity suite certainly eases your workflow. If you need to convert a document from PDF to DOC, you can use a couple of free apps: Some PDF to Word Converter and Free PDF to Word Converter. Both try to keep the structure and layout of the original document, but the truth is that results may vary. At least the first one, Some PDF to Word Converter, lets you process several documents simultaneously.
Split and join pages, cut, annotate…
If you need to join PDF files into one or split a large document into several pages, there are also free apps for that. PDF Split & Merge and Adolix Split & Merge PDF feature a wide range of options. But if you’re looking for a really powerful tool, then you should have a look at PDFill PDF Editor and jPdf Tweak, two excellent apps that can add watermarks, combine and split documents, rotate pages and add notes, among other possibilities
Copy and print text from protected PDF files
Some PDF files have copying or printing restrictions, which can be a nuisance. To copy text from a protected PDF you can use FreeOCR.net, a tool that scans documents with a powerful optical recognition engine. Another option is creating an unprotected copy of the file, which you can do with Free PDF Unlocker. This tool uses GhostScript to extract all the information and save into a new document. It has no graphic interface, but is very easy to use.
[Via: OnSoftware Spain]