Important Update, July 7, 2011:
Since I wrote this review in 2005, PrimoPDF has changed owners. NitroPDF, the new owners, decided to include a borderline adware component called "OpenCandy" in the install program.
Previous versions of OpenCandy were considered adware by major anti-virus software dubbing it, "Adware:Win32/OpenCandy." The newer version in PrimoPDF does not set off most virus checkers.
The OpenCandy folks adamantly defend their advertising software, claiming the anti-virus community misunderstood them. Their critics aren't buying it.
Here's what the version of OpenCandy found in PrimoPDF does:
- Retrieves a list of additional software that OpenCandy thinks you might like (and they are paid for) from their server
- Scans your system for already installed programs
- Recommends a program that isn't installed on your computer. When I tested it, OpenCandy recommended I install the AOL toolbar.
- Reports back to OpenCandy server which of the software was suitable for your system
They claim not to store any personally identifiable information. They only collect "anonymous statistics" according to their "Your Privacy" page.
I tested the OpenCandy-laced PrimoPDF install myself and scanned with Avast and Ad-Aware. I got no warnings. Does that make me feel more comfortable recommending it to you, the Knowzy reader? Not particularly.
Think of it as the poor-man's Adobe Acrobat. Create your own PDF files from any Windows program that is capable of printing. PrimoPDF is free and does an excellent job of creating PDF files from web pages, Word documents and virtually any other file format. If your PDF creation needs are modest, PrimoPDF may save you the $300 or more you would normally spend on Adobe Acrobat.
How It Works
PrimoPDF acts like a printer on your Windows system. Simply open the document, web page or file in its normal program and select the "Print" command. PrimoPDF intercepts the program's output and asks you where to save the PDF. After it is finished, your new PDF is displayed automatically.
What PrimoPDF Can Do
PrimoPDF implements a great number of features that the PDF format offers. Here are the highlights:
- Convert Almost Any File Format or Web Page to PDFIf you can print the file, you can convert it to an Adobe Acrobat PDF. Just select PrimoPDF as your printer when printing.
- Password Protect and Encrypt your Converted PDF FilesYou can optionally protect your PDF files with a password. The password will be used to encrypt the contents using a 40-bit (strong) or 128-bit (very strong) key.
- Prevent Copying, Editing and PrintingPrimoPDF allows you to lock down your PDF files. You can tell it to disallow your recipients from copy and paste operations. You can prevent printing. You can even limit your recipient's ability to edit the PDF. In short, with PrimoPDF you can be a real tightwad with your content!
- Populate the Subtler DetailsPDF files have fields such as title, keywords, author and subject. These are viewable in Adobe Acrobat Reader by selecting the "Summary" menu item under the File - Document Properties menu. PrimoPDF allows you to fill in these often forgotten about fields.
What PrimoPDF Can Not Do
PrimoPDF does so much, you might think there is no need for the traditional, expensive software used to create PDF files, namely Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Illustrator. But PrimoPDF does have some serious limitations. Here are the big ones:
- Cannot Edit PDF FilesYou cannot make changes directly to your PDF with PrimoPDF. If you need to change something in your document, you must make the change in the original document and then convert it to a PDF again.This process can be cumbersome. Even a simple document change requires several steps to carry over that change to the PDF.
- Doesn't Do FormsYou may have come across PDFs have places to fill in information. For example, the IRS has all of their tax forms in a PDF format where you can type in your information and then print it out. PrimoPDF doesn't have this capability, unfortunately. You have to look to Adobe Acrobat for this.