What Is a PDF File? The Complete Tech Guide

Are you wondering what is a PDF file? If yes, you should check out our detailed guide here on the important things to know.

Portable Document Format (PDF) has been around for over 20 years.

PDF documents are very popular, and almost everyone uses PDFs to capture or send their documents. PDFs are very reliable and versatile. They can contain almost everything you want like form fields, 3D objects audio, links, and buttons.

There are several questions people ask about this file format. One of the most common is what is a PDF file. To answer this question and probably other questions that you might have about this file format, let us dig a little deeper into the world of PDF and get you the answers that you need.

What Is a PDF

This file was created by Adobe Systems, an American software company, to help people view a document across various platforms without the need to have the app that was used to create the document. PDF ensures that the layout of the document remains the same across all devices.

PDF files are a full-fledged platform that can allow users to include digital signatures and encryption to ensure that the document is safe. The file can also contain embedded fonts, images, and more. With PDF, you can create or capture a document from almost any application across all devices and also view and print your document.

If you have ever spent hours working on a document, making sure the margins were right, selecting the right font, and sending it only to discover that your once-perfect document is all messed up because the recipient probably used Google Drive to open the document and not Microsoft Word. You will appreciate what PDFs have for you.

PDF can be used for legal documents, business proposals, student notes, product manuals, resumes, flyers, brochures, scanned documents, and other documents. All you need to open these files is a PDF reader though some web browsers can open PDFs without the need for the add-on.

How to Create and Convert a PDF Document

There are many ways of creating a PDF. The best news is that you can create a PDF out of almost anything. Whether it is a Word document, a web page, or any other document, it is quite straightforward.

Some systems like macOS and Windows allow users to print to a PDF.  Therefore, if you are using such systems, you can save anything that you can print as a PDF. Apps like Chrome also have built-in PDF printers, and this makes converting documents quite easy.

To transform your document, open the document, go to file, click the “download as” button then select PDF document from the drop-down menu. You can also go to print, then on the print screen, change the destination to PDF instead of the printer. A PDF creator can also be used to convert documents to PDFs.

While converting a document to PDF is pretty easy, the reverse can be a little tricky, especially if you do not have the right tools. This is because, at first, PDF was just meant for reading. Converting it means that the document will no longer be a PDF, and it has to open in another program.

To convert your PDF to Google Docs or Microsoft Word and still be able to maintain the document’s layout and formatting, you may want to use Adobe Acrobat Reader, which was mainly created for that purpose. This tool is reliable because it can maintain the formatting quite well.

Other conversion tools will help you convert PDF to Word documents and can also allow you to edit the documents easily. Some of these tools can work both ways; meaning, you can use them to create PDFs or convert them to other formats.

How to View or Edit a PDF

There are several apps available that you can use to view a PDF document. From the official Acrobat reader to other word processing apps, web browsers, or third-party apps, viewing a PDF is pretty simple. All you have to do is get a reader or use a browser with an in-built app to view your file.

Though Adobe Acrobat is the most common PDF editor, there are other tools that you can use to edit your document. Online PDF editors make it easy to fill out forms, insert signatures, images, texts, and more, and download them back to your computer as a PDF.

Adobe is available for Android, macOS, and Windows.

Securing Your PDF Document

To keep your files safe, you may want to secure them using a password or encrypt them. This will ensure that no unauthorized person can view, edit, or copy your document without consent. PDF converters or creators can allow you to add or change the type of security you want.

You can choose to restrict access using a password, and since PDF security features have come a long way, you can also choose to encrypt the files. Encryption is a whole other level of security and is best used to secure very confidential documents that are meant to be viewed by only a few people.

If you choose to use a password, you will need an open password that can be used to open and view the document and a master or permissions password that will allow the user to print or make changes to the document.

Encryption, on the other hand, uses very complicated algorithms that scramble the data. The user will need a passcode to unscramble and view the document. Adobe uses encryption certificates that can act as public keys. The author can also create private keys that can be used by the recipients to access the files.

What Is a PDF File? You Now Have an Answer

Now that PDF documents have found their way into almost every industry or institution, we hope this article answers the question, what is a PDF file?

This guide helps you understand more about PDF file format, how you can use it, and how to ensure that your PDF document is safe.

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