Wednesday, November 23, 2011

PDF tools

PDF files are the standard document distribution format. PDF has long left other file formats in the dust. However, there are always a number of operations that people like to make to PDF's ranging from just creating them, to splitting or merging to applying a watermark or foreground stamp.

There are a number of great free tools to do all this work.

  • PDF Creator lets you create PDF files in Windows. Another popular alternative is CutePDF. For Apple Mac, under OSX you can simply print straight to PDF.

  • Splitting/bursting and merging/combining PDFs I feel is best done with a dedicated tool, PDFSAM - Split and Merge. Under OSX, you can actually use the sidebar of preview to move pages around, and drag in PDFs to merge, or pages to remove. If you have a lot of pages to do PDFSAM is a wiser choice, otherwise for smaller tasks Preview is fine.

  • Compression of PDFs under OSX is also straight forward, you just need to open the PDF in preview, and then under Quartz filter choose "Reduce File Size". Under windows, you can use PDFTK, more on this later.

  • Annotation of PDFs, again with OSX, preview gives you a small set of annotation tools. Under windows, you can use PDFTK. (Low cost / free for some-things aternatives are PDF-Xchange viewer and Foxit Reader)

  • Watermarking and Stamps are best done with PDFTK.

  • Encryption can be done with PDFTK, and under OSX, preview has an encrypt option.



  • Of course for those with cash, Adobe's tools are the best choice, but pdftk is a fantastic free alternative, if you don't mind a bit of command line typing.

    An example of putting a foreground stamp onto every PDF with pdftk:
    • Generate a PDF where you would like to apply the stamp to (i.e. the source)
    • Create a stamp PDF. This should have the stamp you wish to apply (e.g. "DRAFT") and be a transparent PDF. Microsoft Word will generate transparent PDFs by default, so you can create your stamp in Word.
    • Apply the stamp to the source PDF using pdftk, for example:
      pdftk in.pdf stamp stamp.pdf output out.pdf
      

    Enjoy!

    1 comment:

    Vicky Milza said...

    Hi Dude,

    Nice blog! PDF tools providing advanced features like split large PDF files, merge two or more PDF files, delete PDF pages, two pages on one page, combine multiple PDFs, join several PDF into one, password protection, encryption, watermarking, book-marking and many more. Thanks...

    Document Auditing