All of the PDF writers in this review are programs that function by creating a pseudo printer on your system. When you want to create a PDF document from pretty much any application, you just choose to print it to the PDF printer and it creates a PDF document. The thing that distinguishes one product from another is the number of available options.
One problem with this approach is that you need to have a program that is able to open the file on your system. If someone sends you a file created with a program you do not have, then you won't be able to open that file; therefore, you will not be able to print it. Since you can't print, you can't convert it to a PDF using a pseudo printer technique either.
I've selected the best free products in this review by eliminating those PDF writers, suggested by readers, that were either not free or were limited time trials and basically adware (the product was free but forced the user to endure various ads as a punishment for using it).
Which one of these is the best? Well, that really depends on the options you need.
The most commonly asked question by readers has been about the size of the output file. Please refer to the table shown below:
|PDF writer||Output from small test file|
|Output from large test file|
(including graphics) (600 dpi)
|Bullzip||48 KB||34 MB|
|PDF24||83 KB||39 MB|
|doPDF||35 KB||53 MB|
[Doakio Editor's Note: This article was restored from Gizmo's Freeware archives as a service to the freeware community. Gizmo's Freeware provided high-quality, volunteer freeware reviews for decades. They shut down in July of 2021.]
Foxit PDF A free very powerful solution for pdf file management
FreePDF Fast and effective PDF Writer.
These are a number of other free PDF writers which were brought up in comments here or noted from other sources. As they are not rated in this review, I am listing them here with brief descriptions and links to their sites for ease of reference.
- PrimoPDF, a lag of several seconds from the time I selected the printer until the screen with the Primo interface opened. On my fast computer it worked reasonably well but is still much slower than all other products.
- NitroPDF Printer has both writer and reader capabilities, supports annotation, text extraction, but full feature set only found in the paid version.
- PDF Redirect has both writer and reader capabilities, can merge PDFs, offers encryption, multi-language support, no adware, but a full feature set is only available in the paid version.
- PDFill PDF and Image Writer, many options and stable. Warning: Downloads from Cnet ( ) now require the use of a proprietary installer. This can install additional components you might not want.
- PDF XChange comes with a tabbed interface and zoom-in feature, supports notes, annotations and export options. It has several restrictions, ads supported and installs the ASK toolbar unless you opt-out during setup.
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