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How to create a PDF

By Matthew Guay · March 5, 2021
PDF icon, which looks like a blank page with the top-right corner folded inward, against a peach-colored background.

A PDF looks the same on every computer and mobile device—it's the closest thing we have to digital paper. And while PDFs used to be hard to make, now every computer and mobile device can make them easily. 

Here's the easiest way to create a PDF on any device. We'll also tell you how to automatically turn something into a PDF by dragging a file into a particular folder.

Need to edit a PDF instead? Here are the best apps to edit a PDF.

Create a PDF on a Windows PC

Windows Print to PDF

First check if the app you're using includes a PDF export option, as Microsoft Office and other professional software often do. Those export tools will usually let you set your PDF quality, secure PDFs with a password, and set other document options.

Otherwise, press the default print button—or tap Ctrl+P on a PC—and you should be able to find a hidden PDF option. In Windows 10, click the Printer dropdown menu, then select the Save as PDF option. This is a virtual printer of sorts, and it makes a PDF file. Choose how to format your document, as shown above, then click Save, and Windows will ask where you want to save the PDF file.

Tip: This is a Windows 10 feature that older versions don't have. If you're using Windows XP, Vista, 7, or 8, you can install a PDF Printer like the free CutePDF—it works the same way.

Create a PDF on a Mac

PDF options macOS

In macOS, there are many PDF options inside the default Print dialog. Press the Print button or menu bar option, or use the command+P keyboard shortcut. In the lower-left corner of the print dialog, click the PDF menu. You can choose to save the PDF file, open it in Preview to edit or preview the document, or add the PDF to supported apps on your Mac like Evernote.

Create a PDF on iOS and Android

Android and iOS include similar options to create PDF files.

In Android, open the Share menu, then use the Print option. Choose Save as PDF as your printer.

Android PDF

In iOS, tap the Share button in an app, then tap the Options panel at the top.

The options panel on iOS

This will bring up the Send As menu, where you should choose Reader PDF.

Reader PDF on iOS

You can now share this PDF using any application, including cloud storage services.

Convert any file to a PDF with CloudConvert


Have an existing document you want to turn into a PDF? Or want to convert a PDF document back into an editable Word document or another file type? CloudConvert is one of the best options.

Open CloudConvert's site, drag the file you want to convert into your browser window, then select the file type you want to create in its menu. To generate a PDF, pick Document > PDF; or, to turn a PDF into an editable document, choose Document > docx. Then click the Start Conversion button, and CloudConvert will create your new file and save it to your computer.

You can also convert files automatically with Zapier. That way, you could save files in any format to a particular folder in Google Drive,  Dropbox, OneDrive, or another app and let Zapier's CloudConvert integration turn them into PDF files automatically.

Convert and re-upload new Google Drive files with CloudConvert

Convert and re-upload new Google Drive files with CloudConvert
  • Google Drive logo
  • CloudConvert logo
  • Google Drive logo
Google Drive + CloudConvert

Now that you know how to create PDF files, what if you need to edit them? Check out our in-depth roundup of the best PDF editor apps, including everything from free tools to edit text in PDFs all the way to professional tools to create PDF forms.

Read more: How to edit a PDF on Windows

This article was originally published in September 2018 and has since been updated with contributions from Justin Pot.

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