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In 1993, Adobe developed a proprietary document format standard that it called the “Public Document Format” or PDF, which is widely used today for business and personal use. A PDF file can be opened, shared and printed on all kinds of computers and over the internet, and it looks the same regardless of the computer or mobile device you use to open and read it.

Adobe provides a free program that can read and print PDF files, called Adobe Acrobat Reader. Creating files in PDF format also ensures that whoever receives the file can’t change it with Acrobat Reader before sharing it with others. This adds security to the documents, allowing them to be used in business and legal applications. Adobe Acrobat Reader does allow you to add text to PDF forms.

In 2008, Adobe made the PDF standard public, and since then many programs and browsers allow you to save documents and web pages as PDFs. Note that PDFs created by apps and browsers are usually text searchable, and hyperlinks in them are “live,” unlike PDFs created by scanners, which usually consist of page images, which are not text searchable.

To make scanned image PDFs text searchable, you need software capable of Optical Character Recognition (OCR).

PDFs often serve as electronic copies of paper documents PDFs are a great way to store paper documents in an electronic format. Banks and other companies currently urge people to “go paperless” and save trees by accepting PDF files that you can download from their websites or via email instead of getting monthly, quarterly or annual paper statements. Scanning your own documents and old photographs, and saving them on your computer, external hard drive or in the cloud, can cut down on file drawers full of paper, and make them easier to organize and find when you need them.

Hardware used to scan documents and save images To convert paper documents to PDFs, you need to use machines that can make electronic images of your paper documents. Here are some common ones.

Scanners – Flatbed scanners have a lift-up lid and a glass panel on which you place your document face down, one page at a time, close the cover, and start the scanning process. Other scanners may have a document feeder in which you insert a stack of pages that feeds them into the scanner one page at a time. These scanners can be fairly large or a small, portable scanner that scans one line at a time as a document is fed through a document feeder.

All-in-one printers – Printers that print, copy, fax and scan documents are similar to standalone scanners. They also use the flatbed glass and document feeders to perform their copy and fax operations. The Computer Club Room at the Gateway Clubhouse (currently closed because of COVID-19) has an allin- one printer that any Rossmoor resident can use to scan documents.

Mobile devices with cameras – Apps on your phone or tablet use their cameras to take a picture of a document, sign or product label and save it as a PDF file. On your iPhone, you can use this function in the Notes and Files apps (this function is available in Files in iOS 13 or later). Examples of free and paid apps for all mobile devices that you can download include Adobe Scan ; CamScanner; ApowerPDF; ABBY FineScanne r; and Office Lens (contained in the Microsoft Office app package).

More apps for Android and Apple devices are reviewed in; https://; and docu-scan Create PDF files using your browser or screen capture Exporting or Printing a web page to a PDF – Modern web browsers (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, etc.) allow you to save web pages as PDF files. Some browsers, like Safari, allow you to Export a web page to a PDF file, while others include Adobe Acrobat as a Printer option, and you can capture the web page to a PDF file on your computer. PDF files found in a search can also be downloaded or “printed” to your computer.

Saving a screenshot to a PDF – Browsers allow you to capture an entire screen, or you can capture a rectangular portion of the screen by clicking and dragging a cursor on the screen to make your selection. You then can capture and save the selection as an image or a PDF file.

Have a tech question or want to see an archive of previous Tech Tips columns? Go to the Computer Club website , and click on the LINKS menu choice at the top-right of the page.

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