tech, simplified.

Nitro PDF tools – the best free PDF tools!

PDF files are the de-facto standard for document sharing, especially over the internet, as you can be certain that a PDF from your computer will look the same on another computer anywhere around the world.  From newsletters to tax forms, PDFs are used everyday, and sometimes it is very convenient and indeed needful to edit or even create these files.  Microsoft Office 2007 added the ability to save files as PDF, and this greatly expanded the amount of people worldwide that were able to save their documents as a PDF easily and cheaply.  However, most computer users didn’t have a convenient and cheap way to edit these or other PDF files, as Adobe Acrobat, one of the few programs that can edit and create PDFs, has a suggested retail price of $299!

Enter Nitro PDF’s products.  As the main competitor to Adobe’s Acrobat products, the Nitro PDF company has a large portfolio of free products and services for creating and editing PDF files in addition to for-pay PDF products.  I first became acquainted with Nitro PDF products when I was looking for a way to print files as PDF from any program for free.  After trying out several PDF printers I found online, I was generally unimpressed with the quality of the files they produced and the speed and usability of the programs.  I then discovered PrimoPDF, a free PDF printer made by Nitro PDF.  This excellent little utility creates picture-perfect PDF files from any program you can print from, and it even leaves the text in documents selectable so you can copy the text out of the PDF file.  PrimoPDF allows you to adjust the image quality depending on your intended use for the files, and even allows you to add security to the PDF so a password is required to open it.  This week I even found another use for PrimoPDF: rearranging pages in a PDF!  I had a newsletter that was formatted for printing, so the pages weren’t in the correct order for reading on a screen.  I finally came up with a solution to rearrange the pages for free on my desktop.  After opening the PDF in Adobe Reader, I proceeded to print it as a PDF through PrimoPDF, and selected the option to print only the selected pages.  In the selected pages box, I typed the page numbers in the order I wanted them to be printed in.  After clicking print, I had a perfect PDF that was now in the correct page order … without having to buy Adobe Acrobat!

Nitro PDF also offers several very good online PDF tools.  My favorite is PDF to Word, which converts a PDF file you upload into a word document (your choice of .doc or .rtf format; hopefully they’ll add .docx in the near future), and the final converted document is then emailed back to you.  This has been very helpful for me with the newsletter I have been working on, because when I copy text from the original PDF it maintains hard returns at the end of each printed line.  Not Nitro PDF’s conversion; the .doc file it gave me let me select a paragraph, and then paste it into another document without all the hard returns at the end of each line!  That is a lot easier than doing a Find and Replace, removing all the returns, and then adding them back at real paragraph breaks.

In addition to these offerings, Nitro PDF also offers a PDF to Excel convertor, a PDF downloader addon for Firefox, PrimoOnline which lets create a PDF online just like PrimoPDF printer lets you create PDFs locally,  and PDF Hammer which lets you combine and rearrange pages in PDFs online.  I have had some trouble with PDF Hammer, but I believe the issues are due to my internet connection and upload speed more than problems with PDF Hammer itself.  That said, I have had no problems whatsoever with PDF to Word, even at the same time that I’m having a hard time uploading files to PDF Hammer.  As I outlined above, I was able to rearrange pages with a little trick with Adobe reader and PrimoPDF, so I was still able to get the job done.

Primo PDF also makes professional desktop programs, Nitro PDF Professional and Nitro PDF Express.  I haven’t used either of these, but based on my experiences with their free offerings I would expect them to be top-of-the-line in every aspect.  They are also much cheaper than Adobe’s offerings, so if I ever need a more advanced PDF editor I will definitely purchase Primo PDF Pro.  If I do so, I will review it here as well.  But for now, enjoy the free offerings, and if you try out the pro products, let me know how they go for you!

Edit:  I had written the names of their paid offerings wrong ... they are Nitro PDF Pro and Express, not Primo PDF pro and express.  Its corrected now!

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