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Adobe Acrobat 5.0
Jaws PDF Creator v3.0
PDF-XChange 2.5
MakePDF for Word 4.0
Adobe Acrobat 5.0
Adobe Systems
Windows 95 OSR2.0/NT 4.0 and higher, Macintosh OS 8.6 and higher

Jaws PDF Creator v3.0
Global Graphics Software
Windows 98/NT 4.0 and higher, Macintosh OS 8.5 through 9.x

PDF-XChange 2.5
Tracker Software Products
Windows

MakePDF for Word 4.0
Document Automation Developers
Windows
Using Jaws PDF Creator is like taking generic acetaminophen instead of Tylenol. It's a bit cheaper and people may not recognize the brand, but it performs almost exactly like the original.

In all of my tests, Jaws PDF Creator generated PDFs that were almost identical in appearance to those created by Distiller or PDFMaker—and the differences that did exist were so subtle most people wouldn't catch them if they were looking for them. As a bonus, Jaws PDF Creator generally generated smaller files than Acrobat. (A 134K Word file weighed in as a 129K PDF; PDFMaker generated a 141K PDF from the same file.)

PDFs are created either through a printer driver or Jaws ToPDF, a Distiller-like application that allows you to drag and drop PostScript files to generate PDFs. Jaws ToPDF is also where you create output presets.

Like Adobe PDFMaker for Word, Jaws PDF Creator includes a one-click toolbar button for creating bookmarks, notes, and hyperlinks based on a Word document's structure. Other than an inability to create bookmarks from anything other than Word's Heading styles, the macro is very similar to PDFMaker; it even apes its lack of presets. On the plus side, Jaws PDF Creator can generate hyperlinks from URLs in text without having to ensure that each URL is also hyperlinked in Word—a feature I'd have expected Adobe to have added to PDFMaker a long time ago.

Jaws PDF Creator is probably the most complete PDF tool short of Acrobat itself. Beyond converting Word documents, it includes options for fast Web viewing, encryption and security, and a handful of color-management and prepress functions. Although it's not quite as thorough as Distiller, it provides plenty of room to grow for the user who's just starting to explore PDF.

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Originally printed in The Computer Paper (May 2003)
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