Many new Mac users don’t realize that any document you can print in OS X can also be saved as a PDF. PDF stands for “Portable Document Format.” PDFs are often the easiest way to exchange document files between Macs and PCs, as well as between different versions of Mac and PC operating systems (such as between OS 10.2 and OS 10.5, or between Windows 2000 and Windows XP.)

PDF documents appear identically on all computers, so you don’t have to worry about things like whether the recipient has access to the same fonts as you or if your company logo and other graphics will display properly.

PDFs are also an excellent way to quickly save “snapshots” of web pages for future reference. Since some web pages change frequently, PDFs are a useful way to capture or archive content that might be hard to find again later.

PDF has recently become an open standard, making it even better for exchanging document files between computers.

Here’s how Apple describes the process of creating a PDF from any document you can print in OS 10.2 or higher:

To save a document or web page as a PDF, open it and press Command-P, just as though you’re going to print the page. But instead of clicking Print or pressing the Return key, click the PDF button in the lower left corner of the Print dialog. Choose Save as PDF at the top of the menu, navigate to the location you’d like to save to, and click Save.

in Leopard, the PDF button also contains other useful options. Mail PDF opens a new message in Apple’s Mail program, with the PDF already attached. Encrypt PDF lets you protect your file with a password. And Compress PDF creates a more compressed version of the file — great for emailing large, multi-page PDFs.

Note: the image in this article comes from OS 10.5, Leopard.

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