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Create PDFs for Free – a List of Free PDF Creation and PDF Generation Software

9 Oct 2008 | | 29 Comments

UPDATE 27 November 2009: Looking to find out more about free PDF creators and generation software? We’ve just launched a new question and answer site for all of your PDF questions.

This is a list of all the really free PDF creation and PDF generation software that we could find on the web. We tried to make the list as comprehensive as possible — but we’re only human — so if we’ve missed a product that you think should be included in this list, please add a comment.

The criteria for this list is simple: the application must be free (definitely no hideous watermarks on printed pages allowed), work on the client-side and include a PDF printer driver (i.e. so you can go to File > Print and print to PDF). So here goes (ranked in order of popularity at Download.com):

  • PrimoPDF (15,339,680 downloads) — PrimoPDF comes with pre-configured settings for creating PDF files optimized for print, screen, ebook, or prepress. Requirements: Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP/Vista.
  • doPDF Free PDF Converter (1,673,788 downloads) – Transform any printable document into PDF format. Requirements: Windows 2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista.
  • PDF ReDirect (1,180,731 downloads) – Create, encrypt, and append PDF files. Requirements: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista.
  • CutePDF Writer (1,057,537 downloads) – Create Adobe PDF files with the push of a button. Requirements: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/Vista.
  • PDF995 Printer Driver 8.4 (491,461 downloads) – Create professional-quality documents in PDF file format. Requirements: Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP/Vista.
  • Bullzip PDF Printer (118,508 downloads) – Use any MS Windows application for writing PDF documents. Requirements: Windows 2000/XP/2003 Server.
  • Solid PDF Creator (119,939 downloads) – Create PDF and PDF/A documents from any Windows program. Requirements: Windows 2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista.
  • PDFCreator (91,461 downloads) – Render PDF files within applications that support the print function. Requirements: Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista.

If we have missed a PDF printer driver that fits the criteria mentioned at the top of the post, then please leave a comment and we’ll gladly add it. Or if you have any problems with any of these ask a question at 4xPDF help.

Updated  #1 (16/10/08): added Solid PDF Creator and PDF ReDirect.

Updated #2 (21/10/08): removed Go2PDF because it adds a watermark to all PDFs that it creates.

Updated #3 (3/11/08): updated download stats from Download.com.

Updated #4 (4/12/08): updated download stats from Download.com. Moved Bullzip PDF Printer to the bottom of the list due to stat change.

Updated #5 (5/01/09): updated download stats from Download.com. Moved Bullzip PDF Printer to number 8th due to stat change.

Updated #6 (14/02/09): updated download stats from Download.com. Moved Solid PDF Creator above PDFCreator.

Updated #6 (6/06/09): updated download stats from Download.com.

Updated #7 (25/08/09): updated download stats from Download.com.

Updated #8 (2/12/09): updated download stats from Download.com.

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29 Comments »

  • Solid PDF Creator is now 100% free | 4xPDF said:

    [...] PDF Creator has been added to our list of free PDF creation and PDF generation software. Related Posts:Create PDFs for Free – a List of Free PDF Creation and PDF Generation Software This [...]

  • Karl De Abrew said:

    Go2PDF appears to leave a watermark on the bottom of each page — has anyone else encountered this?

  • Rowan Hanna (author) said:

    Yes, I just encountered the watermark too. I’ve removed Go2PDF from the list.

    Does anyone know of any more 100% free PDF creators out there?

  • ann said:

    Hi, I’d like to ask if any of you knows about any massive doc to pdf converter. I have a huge group of docs file at work and I need to convert every single one to pdf.

    Thanks a lot.

  • Karl De Abrew said:

    Sure — I’d say that there’s a few utilities you can use for this — but this will work for starters.

    Install the Bullzip printer – http://www.bullzip.com/products/pdf/info.php, then:

    1. Goto Program Files, Bullzip, PDF Printer, Options application.
    2. In the general tab — change the location of the path/filenames as you wish.
    3. Enable the remember last folder option
    4. Select No in the Show Document group box.
    5. In the dialogs tab, change the settings – dialog option to Never.
    6. Explore the other options and set as you feel necessary.
    7. Goto your printer list within the control panel. Set the Bullzip printer as the default.
    8. Open an explorer window containing all of the files you wish to convert.
    9. Right-click on one file and make sure that the file prints to the Bullprint printer.
    10. If not, then double-check that Word is closed and try again.
    11. If correct, then right click on the entire batch, and choose File, Print.

    Bullprint will iterate through the list and convert each file, dropping the output in the specified folder.

    Note: I am sure that other applications here in our list will also do this — Bullprint is the app that I’m immediately familiar with as I have been doing detailed research across all free PDF creators.

    Anyone else have any suggestions?

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  • Tommy.Tse said:

    Dear All,

    Is it possbile to convent jpg file into pdf file on batch? I try bullzip but it seems it cannot make it.

    Tommy

  • Karl De Abrew said:

    Yep — no problems. I’m presuming you mean Windows, but you could get this to work on most platforms (Mac, Windows, Unix).

    Use ImageMagick — http://www.imagemagick.org/ (it’s free)

    The guys at “Of Zen and Computing” have a pretty simple example for converting jpg to png:

    http://www.ofzenandcomputing.com/zanswers/1016

    You’ll need to write this (or something very similar) ->
    mogrify -format jpg *.pdf

    Note: it’s from a command prompt. Hope this helps…

  • Paper predicted to be (almost) matched by PDF as a long-term storage format of choice within 5 years | 4xPDF Blog said:

    [...] PDF can be generated freely by a number of tools (ed: note our list of free creators here) [...]

  • Biju Ayyappan said:

    The free version of PDF995 Printer Driver have popup ads of their sponsors. To avoid popups one may have to go the paid version.

  • Karl De Abrew said:

    Yes, this is true — however, our criteria is centered around whether the PDF files themselves end up with watermarks. But you are correct, the PDF995 pop-up ads can be quite irritating, even though the product is free.

  • Martin Gifford said:

    Thanks for this list.

    Do any of these programs allow you to highlight text in a PDF and then save it? That’s all I need to do.

    As a student I have heaps of PDF documents to read, and it would be great if I could highlight text in PDFs and resave them for future reference.

  • Adrian Morse said:

    Martin,

    No, none of these programs allow you to do this and I doubt that you will find this functionality in any freeware tool.

    An Acrobat Professional user can “enable a PDF for commenting”. Such a PDF can then be marked up for free by anyone using Adobe Reader. You might be lucky and find some of the PDFs you have obtained have already been enabled for commenting, but this is unlikely.

    The professional versions of other PDF tools, e.g. Cute PDF, also offer the ability to add markup to PDFs. This might be your best bet.

    Adrian

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  • Kai Steuernagel said:

    what about FreePDF XP. It uses Ghostscript. Only issue. website only in German. http://www.shbox.de

  • Jim said:

    Just happened by this evening, noted primopdf reference but cannot access their server (ie, Firefox 3.0.8 reports their server cannot be located). Something recent or just middle-of-the-night jitters?

  • PDF will not open! | 4xPDF Blog said:

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  • Free PDF! said:

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  • Freedom! said:

    The ghostscript + redmon solution works for me, and they’re entirely free.

  • Frank Dueckers said:

    Perfect PDF Master also meets the criteria, available in English, German and French, have a look at

    http://soft-xpansion.com/index.php?p=pdftech/pdfqm

  • Janes Moore said:

    See PDF Writer
    http://www.pdfill.com/freewriter.html

  • Paul Marfell said:

    Hi. Is there an application that allows you to add icons to an existing PDF file where the icon, when clicked, opens a notelet? Ideally the notelet, or even the icon as an option, could then have a link to another document/file.

    Thinking a bit more about the reason for the request I could use an editor and make some of the text a link to the file.

    I am wanting to modify an agenda that is a PDF so that the agenda items have links to each supporting document. This is for use in meetings using a projector.

  • Ilan said:

    There is a modified version of PDF-Creator that can embed a creative-commons license into the PDF file. It’s available here: http://www.cogniview.com/cc-pdf-converter.php
    Really useful is you publish your CC-licensed content on PDF files.

  • Mashuka said:

    Feel free to look at the free PDF creator offering from Global Graphics at the link
    http://www.globalgraphics.com/en/gdoc/

    regards
    Mashuka

  • Dave said:

    I’ve been using pdftex (free) to convert LaTeX (free) files to pdf for math typesetting and found it very effective and flexible for both hard copy and presentation formats.

    Now I’d like to start using (lots of) document level javascript to build student tests with randomized question inputs. There is a package for latex (insdljs) that enables inclusion of javascript.

    I’m wondering if anyone knows of a better environment for development of acrobat javascript without having to rely on the editor and debugger in Acrobat Pro.

    Any suggestions?

    Dave

    Editor’s Note: these questions should be asked at our PDF Question/Answer site 4x PDF Help

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