Free and low-cost options for creating portable (PDF,TIFF, etc.) read-only documents

If you want to create Adobe Acrobat (PDF) documents, there are several free and low cost options to choose from.

If you have Microsoft Office 2003, this comes with something called "Microsoft Office Document Image Writer" which looks like a printer in you "Printer and Faxes" folder but anything you send there will actually be converted into an electronic, read-only, document.  By default Office Image Writer uses its own format that can only be read by Office 2003 users (there may be a free viewer, I don't know) but it can be configured to produce multi-page TIFF files which are easily ready by almost any computer user.  Doesn’t product a PDF file but accomplishes a similar purpose.

If you want a free PDF creator, Adobe has one available.  Go to  Requires registration and access to the web but is free and creates PDF documents.

Another option is to use  eFAX (  eFAX is a service that lets you publish a phone number as a FAX number but documents sent to FAX number  are turned into emails with PDF documents that land in your email inbox.  Aside from being  able to FAX documents to yourself, eFAX also includes a virtual printer in your Printers folder that you can send any document to and it comes back to you as PDF.

If you want something on your PC (works off-line) and creates PDF and is free, do a Google search on "free PDF".  There are a number of freebies out there. Many have less functionality for the free version (i.e. only print a few pages at a time - not 100 page manuals), include ads (when you create the PDF, not to view it) or add a small footer to your PDF ("This document created by...").

Most of the freebie PDF writers are the cut-down versions of products available for sale - cost from $9 to $25.

Buying Adobe Acrobat still costs about $200-300 but they have a new version called "Acrobat Element".  Elements costs less on a per-seat basis but isn't available in individual units - you have to buy 100 seats at a time.  Elements is intended to give workgroups a cost-effective way of creating PDF documents.  

Personally, I used to use Acrobat but my copy was version 5 and it wasn't worth the cost to upgrade relative to using Office Image Writer or using PDF995 (see )

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