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by Ray DeCosta

Q. I want to email a document to a friend but I use an old word processor and he can't read what I send him. He suggested that I send it in "PDF format." What does that mean and how do I do that?

A. PDF stands for "Portable Document Format" and it used to be a proprietary format of Adobe Systems. It was developed to be operating system, hardware and software independent. In other words, any computer would be capable of reading a PDF file and any printer could print it. In the beginning, a PDF file could only be produced by Adobe Acrobat, a very expensive program. Eventually Adobe allowed their format to become an open standard and usable by anyone. Now, you can create, edit and read PDF documents on your computer without any cost whatsoever.

Here's how to do it: Obtain and install a copy of PrimoPDF from their website. Actually, there are a large number of free PDF creation programs available, but PrimoPDF appears to be the dominant one now. It's also very secure because it is properly maintained by the company. PrimoPDF installs as a virtual printer. That means it shows up on your list of available printers although it really doesn't exist in the physical sense. Instead of printing to your usual printer, simply select PrimoPDF and it will create a PDF file from your document. You can then send it to your friend and he can read it or even print it out the "old-fashioned way."

Published: Courier 7/4/10 - Page 5C