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Best Free PDF Writer Software | Gizmo’s Freeware Archive

Introduction

PDF file imageAll 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 writerOutput from small test file
(without graphics)
Output from large test file
(including graphics) (600 dpi)
Bullzip  48 KB   34 MB
PDF24  83 KB   39 MB
PDFCreator  25 KB    N/A*
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.]

 

Rated Products

 

Bullzip PDF Printer  A very solid program that has proven to be a top performer

 

License: Free (Donationware)

Complete set of options and very stable.
PDF file created may not be searchable, requires Ghostscript 9.10 or later.

Read full review…

 

PDF24 PDF Creator A unique pdf virtual printer with added editing features

 

License: Free

Supports document merge, allows scanner input, drop and drag interface, digital signing, selectable quality settings
Limited editing

Read full review…

 

Foxit PDF  A free very powerful solution for pdf file management

 

License: Free

Microsoft Word office programs plugins, PDF signature support, Microsoft SharePoint and Active Directory Rights Management Service Integration, multimedia Support, touch screen support.
Bloatware included, some features are paid only.

Read full review…

 

PDFCreator  A pdf printer with both a standalone and a server installer

 

License: Free

Standalone install and a server install, digital signing and encryption, smart file naming
All versions bundled with OpenCandy installer. Limited watermark abilities

Read full review…

 

doPDF  It is minimal yet allows different levels of output

 
 
License: Free
 
Simple, different PDF qualities
Basic PDF writing

Read full review…

 

FreePDF  Fast and effective PDF Writer.

Our Rating: 4
 

 License: Free

Fast and produces PDF with small file size, different profiles for the quality of the document, supports merging different files into a single PDF, password protection support.
No watermarks and/or digital signatures support, requires Ghostscript.

Read full review…

 

CutePDF Writer  A simple yet effective solid option

Our Rating: 3
 

 License: Free

Lightweight, very easy to use, 32 & 64-bit OS support, Ghostscript not included while downloading.
Bloatware included.

Read full review…

 

Other PDF Writers

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 (Download.com) 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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