Creating and Viewing PDFs in Mac OS X

September 7, 2011, By Christian Cawley

The Portable Document Format – best known as PDF – was introduced by Adobe in the 1990s as a portable document that could be used in favour of a word-processor file. PDF files are consider portable because they are generally small and can be opened on any device that has a suitable reader.

The fact that a PDF cannot be easily altered or manipulated made the format very successful, and it has since been used for document of all kinds, from user guides and manuals to internal use in large organizations and government.

Creating and Viewing PDFs in Mac OS X

Various functions are available in the Mac OS X for handling PDF documents, from providing a means of viewing them to creating and editing your own portable content. You might like to create a hard copy of a web page, for instance, or create a PDF that only features specific items.

Selecting Information for Your PDF

You might find that when managing PDF documents you only want to save particular items of information, and this can be done by creating a PDF containing the just items that you want; alternatively you can save the entire page in PDF format and then just extract the relevant data later on.

Content that originates on the web or in another non-PDF document can be saved in PDF format via the Print dialog in Mac OS X. You can then select the page range and made other adjustments based on your preferences based on the source data and how you want the content to appear as a PDF.

Note that you may find that the default format isn’t suitable for your needs. In this case you will need to change the default 8.5×11 inch format to suit the content that you are saving, and this can also be done in the Print dialog box – simply select a pre-existing paper size or choose your own, ensuring that your choice is appropriate for your source material. Should you opt to print the data in the future, OS X will resize it to fit on one of the standard paper formats.

Viewing a PDF in Mac OS X

There are various suitable applications that can be used to view PDFs on your Mac. The most obvious would probably be the official Adobe Reader app, but there are plenty of alternatives, not least in the shape of the Preview tool in Mac OS X. This application allows you to read your PDF documents without opening them, and proves a useful alternative to Adobe software.

Of course, there are plenty of reasons to opt for the Adobe Reader – not least because it offers superior performance in the majority of cases, quickly rendering pages of a PDF document. Additionally, plugins for Safari and Firefox are available for viewing PDF pages in your browser, and you might also choose the open source Skim app as your PDF reader.

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