A couple of weeks ago, a friend whose antiquated desktop computer will have to keep plodding along with Microsoft Office 2003 (MO 2003) until she wins the lottery, wrote asking how she could create PDF's without upgrading to MO 2010.
Here are a few solutions we found; we hope they'll help other harried netizens facing a similar challenge.
With apologies for how long it has taken me to reply, here are some FREE options which will enable you to create & use PDF files from MO 2003 without updating to 2010. The solutions fall into two principal styles of PDF'ing:
Create & store PDF's online, or
Create PDF's offline via freeware.
The solutions at #1 don't require you to download new software, will be compatible across multiple operating systems, and even if your computer crashes or you're away from your own computer and on the other side of the planet, the website has your documents and images safely filed and available to you via the internet from any computer anywhere.
It doesn't take a degree in rocket science to understand these "in the cloud" and "on-the-fly" web services are a godsend for computers with older OS, with limited memory capacity, or computers tottering along on their almost-obselete legs.
The solutions at #2 are software apps you can download.
As of when I researched this info, ALL of these options are FREE (I'll say it again, FREE!) and they all "play nicely" with MO 2003. However, to find the solution most compatible with your particular goals, workstyle, and/or your hardware/software combination, it is your responsibility to
review a site to fully understand what can/cannot be accomplished with that particular option;
before downloading any software, check its minimum system requirements.
Also, it is assumed for some of these options, you will need to have already downloaded and updated the free Acrobat Reader appropriate to your OS. Again, check the minimum system requirements, especially with regard to the web browser you use (Windows Internet, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, or Opera). The browser you use can make a difference in how images and documents are rendered on your screen. I use Safari 4 because I use the Mac-based Tiger OS X and I prefer it over my other options. However, Firefox and Chrome are extremely popular alternatives for Microsoft users ready to ditch the flawed and creaky IE.
So, here are a plethora of options for you....
Create & store PDF's online - Can be done 2 ways,
(A) - with a free online document management account (a/k/a "cloud computing"), or
(B) - with "on-the-fly" PDF conversion websites.
In either case, there is no software to download. Whenever you need to create a PDF, just navigate to one of these sites, follow the instructions, & a PDF will be created of your document(s). Free document management websites like Google Docs and Acrobat.com allow you to create and convert PDF's and other types of documents; they also enable you to edit, store, download, and share specified documents with other people.
A - Free online document management accounts. Also known as "cloud computing". You will need to create an account, then log in to use its features. Outside of downloading a software application, this option provides you the greatest number of functions, flexibility, and security.
Google Docs - Before you sign up for a Google Documents account (one of my favourites for document management), you'll want to view this information and watch these videos. Doing so will bring you quickly up to speed on how to use GD. Although the images for this article, Four Steps to Convert Any Document into PDF Using Google Docs are scrambled now, the author's simple instructions for using Google Docs to create PDF files are still useful and relevant. Another benefit of signing up for a GD account is you'll also automatically have access to a Gmail account and other Google products -- what amounts to an entire suite of office/business management services.
Acrobat.com - Acrobat.com is one of my other favourite document management websites. As their blurb says, it is "Document sharing made easy...it goes beyond web conferencing, enabling a new way to work better with colleagues, clients, or partners. Let our service help you create files and share collaborative documents online, without technical expertise or IT assistance." Just sign up for it at the above link; once you sign it to your account, you'll also have access to AcrobatDotCom's other "rooms", each with a different function -- web conferencing, forms and documents, personalized file sending, and PDF creation.
I use both Google Docs and AcrobatDotCom, loading my documents and images to their "file rooms" for extra backup. By doing this consistently, I never lose important files and can always edit, download, link to, share, and print them.
Between the two services, I can accomplish more faster and from any computer anywhere. As an entrepreneur, my ability to have free and almost-instant access to such a wide array of functions and services keeps me competitive with colleagues and businesses who, although they may have more money to spend for better toys, are still reliant on their hardware and software always being in perfect working order and availability.
B - Free "on-the-fly" PDF conversion websites - go to the site, follow the instructions, and your newly-PDF'd document will be emailed to you.
Create PDF's offline via freeware - some of these options are full-sized applications which include other helpful functions (a/k/a "open source" and beta versions); some are "lite" (i.e., free, limited-functionality versions of larger, more complete applications). All of them have been widely used, tested, and are known to be safe for use with the Microsoft OS.