I have been using PDF Creator which is free software for Windows that installs a PDF file printer. For me, it serves as a quick and dirty solution versus more complex and feature rich solutions like Apache Forrest, Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA), or simply using Adobe’s software which, of course, is the most obvious choice since they are the creators of the PDF format.
For the purposes of this post, I want to show off the command line features of PDF Creator since this what I find most useful. I’ll be using an Open Office text document for illustration. For those savvy Open Office users, yes, I know that Open Office Writer allows for PDF exports but this feature is not available via the command line in Open Office.
To begin, download PDF Creator and install it on your system. The install will, unfortunately, put PDF Creator in your “Program Files” folder. You will have no choice in this matter.
Finding PDF Creator
Once you have PDF Creator installed you can find easily find it via your Start Menu in Program Files as shown here:
You can also find the printer shortcut in your start menu here:
Setting up PDF Creator
If you click on the PDF Creator shortcut shown above (not the printer shortcut but the one in Program Files) you will get the following window:
From this window, click on the Printer–>Options menu to configure PDF Creator. There are a few options I want to point out, however. The first is the document settings where you might want to automatically assign your name to generated PDF files as shown here:
Next, click on the save settings and adjust the way in which you want PDF files to be named when created. In my case, I ended up using the document title with a datestamp suffix as shown here:
The last setting I want to talk about is the auto-save settings. This is the most important setting for command line use as it prevents PDF Creator dialogs showing up during PDF file generation. You can also control how the file is named and what the default directory should be when auto-saving. In my case, I use my “unfiled” directory as shown here:
Lastly, click the “Save” button to save your settings.
Using the PDF Creator Command Line
With your settings adjusted, all you need is a file to convert to PDF. In my case, I created an example.odt (download and unzip) with Open Office.
The command line used to generate a PDF version of the original document is shown here:
"C:\Program Files\PDFCreator\PDFCreator.exe" /NoStart /PF"F:\unfiled\example.odt"
You will need to modify the command line for your own environment, of course.
I do want to point out a couple of the options used in the command line shown above. The first is the “NoStart” option which prevents the PDF Creator window from popping up during execution. Although, the first time you execute the command line you will be presented with the following dialog:
Just put a check mark for “Don’t ask me again” to prevent future occurrences of this dialog.
The last option to talk about is the “PF” option which tells PDF Creator where your source file is for PDF conversion. Make sure to not use a space between the option and the path to your source file. You might also consider using quotes in case you have a file path with spaces.
The resulting PDF document produced from the command line above can be downloaded here.
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