Academic Technology Center
Teaching with Technology Collaboratory

Printing to PDF Without Acrobat

December 6, 2006

If you have ever wanted to "Print to PDF" but do not have the full version of Adobe Acrobat installed, there is a networked "virtual printer" that is available. This option does not have all of the functionality of Adobe Acrobat, such as merging pages from multiple files, but is a handy tool that is available when you need a quick PDF version of a file, such as a Microsoft Word document.

PDF is a useful file format when you want to transfer files by email or the Web and other users may not have the appropriate software to view the files. The software to read PDF files (Adobe Acrobat Reader) is free and easily installed, so users can easily view your PDF files even if they donít have the original software you used to create the file. This may be useful to you in your teaching if you create a file in a specialized software package and want to share it with your students, but your students donít have the specialized software package.

To use the virtual printer, map it just like a Uniprint printer, but with the printername being "pdf".

  1. Go to the Start Menu > Run.
  2. Enter \\\pdf in the Open: field in the Run dialog and click OK. You then see the PDF printer queue, and the printer is added to your list of printers.
  3. To create a PDF file after adding the PDF printer, go to File > Print or the print command in the program that you want to print from. Then, instead of your regular printer, select the PrintToPDF printer.
    Note: If you normally use the Print button, you may need to use File > Print instead, to ensure that the file will print to PDF rather than your default printer.
  4. The file is output to your My Documents folder as job_####name.pdf where a number is assigned to the print job, followed by the name of the program or a similar descriptor. For example, a Microsoft Word document printed to PDF might be called "job_2020-Microsoft_Word_-_Document1.pdf"
  5. You can then rename the file to something meaningful, and move it to another folder if needed.