student in media lab

Saving Documents as PDF's

It is sometimes necessary to convert your Word or other documents into a format that can be read on any computer. Whether you want to share documents with someone who does not have the same applications available on their computer, or you want to prevent others from editing your work, converting them first to PDF's can meet both requirements. It used to require expensive software to perform the function of converting documents to PDFs, but no longer. Here are the options available to you.


OSX has a PDF converter built into the operating system.

  • Choose ?File'?>?Print' and click the ?PDF' button at the bottom of the print# window.
  • From the drop down list choose ?Save as PDF?'.
  • The next window prompts you to name your document and choose where you want to save it.

Remember that you will not be able to edit this PDF file once it is saved, but of course you can continue to edit the original Word, Excel, or other type of file using the application through which you created it.

Windows XP

Several free PDF conversion applications can be found online. Hampshire College has chosen to support PDF Creator. If you received a computer from IT since June 2007, PDF Creator is already installed. If you have an older computer, or a personal computer, you can download the application installer from the following website:

It's the second-to-last one on the list. Click on it and choose save and the installer will download to your desktop.  Close your browser and other programs and double-click on the installer. Use the defaults in the installation prompts. 

With PDFCreator installed

  • Choose File?> Print from the file menu.
  • From the print dialog box, click the arrow to the right of your default printer to drop down a list of printers.
  • Select PDFCreator and follow the prompts to name your document and select a location to save the PDF.

PDFCreator is a SOURCEFORGE.NET project and can be freely distributed under the license GNU General Public License (GPL). More information about this project may be found at:

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