By Martin Jansen, Owner of Jansen-PCINFO
I once was acquainted with a business woman who printed everything she worked on. She would go through reams of paper printing every single “important” email she would receive. Stacks of paper would pile up on her desk. The bottom of the stacks, of course, would be documents that were no longer relevant and aging. Good thing we don’t get earthquakes very often in Wisconsin, because if it happened, she would be buried in paper. Everyone who worked on her computer would be afraid to go into her office lest they disturb one of the piles and cause an avalanche.
Fortunately in today’s world we have tools that allow us to not print a single document. These tools have been with us for years, but we just didn’t use them very much. I’m referring to printing to a PDF. All modern operating systems and software have the ability to print PDF files. Many have built-in PDF readers as well. If not, there are plenty of options to install readers from sources such as Adobe, Foxit and others. Following the links gets you the right software for your system. Aside: I find it annoying that Adobe buries their free reader in the back pages of their website in hopes that you pay for their $20 per month subscription of Acrobat Pro.
In LibreOffice, the newer versions have PDF output as a menu item:
The fourth icon is the Print Directly to PDF option. When the document is completed save the document in the native Open Document Format and click on the PDF icon to save the file as a PDF for distribution or storage.
In Google Docs, click on File, Download and select PDF Document (PDF). The document is formatted on Google’s servers and sent to your browser for download.
TIP: By the way, you can control the download behavior of your browser by going into the settings, searching for download, and turning on “Ask where to save each file before downloading” or similar language depending on your browser. You can also control what folder the files are being saved. Here’s what the setting looks like in Google Chrome:
Printing a PDF from Microsoft Word is a little more complicated. You have to select a special printer driver added by Microsoft called Microsoft Print to PDF when printing. Here’s a screenshot of the printing dialog box:
If the Print to PDF driver is missing, here’s an article to restore the driver: https://www.makeuseof.com/windows-restore-missing-print-pdf-option/
Of course, if printing many PDF files, a good filing system is needed to organize those files. I like to use year numbers to organize my files. My files from 2002, for instance, are probably not relevant today. It is also easier to delete organized files when they are no longer needed.
Some people don’t organize their files at all. I had one user that saved everything to their desktop for “easy access.” Unfortunately she saved so many files that she literally had to scroll over screen after screen to find any files she wanted. She also wondered why her computer, upon bootup, was so slow to load the desktop.
In conclusion, my advice would be to “save a tree” and print to PDF whenever possible. Also, organize your files so you can find them quickly.