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4 Ways to Make a PDF — for Free

Share files across all devices and keep them formatted

spinner image two women creating and sending each other p d f files

Whether you’re looking to make reading easier, keep information secure or give your documents professional polish, creating PDF (portable document format) files when sharing information is a good idea.

Most people associate PDFs with contracts, résumés or multipage reports. But their fixed format, meaning the document can’t be altered unless it’s an editable PDF, and professional appearance make them a good choice for sending documents online.

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Because a PDF is a universal document format, it’s compatible with all devices and operating systems, including Windows and Mac, smartphones like your iPhone or Android, and tablets like iPad and Chromebook. A PDF also is easy to attach via email or through messaging apps and to upload to websites. PDFs are often preferred in printed documents as well.

Creating a PDF is incredibly easy, too.

1. Create a PDF from a Word document

To save your work as a PDF in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Apple Pages or other word processors involves pretty much the same steps.

1. Open the document you want to save as a PDF.

2. Click on the File tab.

3. In Word, click Save As | PDF from the drop-down menu. In Google Docs, click File | Download | PDF. In Pages, it’s File | Export to | PDF.

4. In the file name box, .pdf will automatically appear at the end of your file name.

You can create a PDF in other programs, such as PowerPoint, Keynote or Google Slides presentation software, and Excel, Numbers or Google Sheets spreadsheets as well as export emails to a PDF. To export an email, click File | Print | PDF.

You can save a document as a PDF by clicking File | Print. An option for Print Preview will appear. Under Printer, change it from your computer printer, such as Epson, Canon or HP, to PDF. Click Print and it will save the file as a PDF on your computer.

It’s just as easy to open a PDF. Double click on the file name, whether it’s stored on your desktop in Windows Explorer on a PC or Finder on an Apple Mac, and it will automatically open a compatible reader on your device either in a web browser or creative software like Adobe Acrobat Reader.

spinner image a screenshot showing how to make a pdf in chrome browser
Google’s Chrome browser on a laptop or desktop computer, like all other popular web browsers, gives an option to save a webpage as a PDF when you choose to print.

2. Save a webpage as a PDF

If you like to stockpile articles, book reviews or recipes, saving a webpage is just as simple using your web browser. This works on most computer web browsers, such as Google Chrome, the most popular in the U.S., plus Apple’s Safari, Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox.

In your browser, go to the webpage you want to save as a PDF, maybe an AARP article on celebrity Jamie Lee Curtis.

• For Chrome, click on the three vertical dots ⋮ at the top right of the page | Print...

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• For Safari, available for Apple devices only, right-click anywhere on the page except for a photo or a video | Print Page…

• For Edge, click on the three horizontal dots ⋯ at the top right of the page | Print.

• For Firefox, click the hamburger menu icon ☰ at the top right of the page | Print…

Each of these will take you to a print preview pane that opens on top of your webpage. In Chrome and Firefox, under the Destination menu, select Save as PDF or Save to PDF. In Safari, select PDF | Save as PDF at the bottom of the preview window. In Edge, choose Microsoft Print to PDF.

The Print Preview option lets you choose how many pages you want to save, so you can decide on all pages or narrow your choices to get fewer ads at the end. Then click the Print button.

spinner image screenshots for how to make a p d f on iphone
iPhones and iPads have a couple of ways for you to create PDFs that can be stored on your smartphone or immediately shared with others using the Books app or sending to others via the Options > button.

3. Save as a PDF on a smartphone or tablet

Creating a PDF on an Android phone, Apple iPhone, iPad or other tablet is also easy.

For iPhone or iPad. As with your computer, you can save webpages, emails or notes as a PDF on your mobile Apple device and open them in the Books app, already included on your iPhone or iPad.

1. To save content as a PDF, tap the Share button, a square with an arrow inside pointing up. It will show you options, such as sending as a text message or email, posting it to social media, etc. Below these sections, you’ll see options to open the document in Chrome or Safari.

2. Choose how you want to send the document and look for the orange and white icon called Books. If you don’t see Books as an option, go to More | Books.

3. The PDF is now saved on your iPhone or iPad. To open the PDF, open Books, and you’ll see a thumbnail of the item you saved.

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To send someone a PDF of an article you read with Safari, on the website tap Share | Options | PDF.

You can also take a photo of a document in the Notes app and save or share it as a PDF. Open Notes, start a new note by tapping the square with the pencil in the lower right corner of your screen, tap the camera icon and select Scan Documents. Point your phone’s camera at the document, as flat as you can, and it will scan it for you as a PDF. Tap Save to Files or select the Share button to send it to someone.  

For Android devices. Instructions for Android smartphones and tablets can differ slightly by the version of operating system you’re using and the manufacturer. The following is for a Samsung Galaxy A32 running Android version 12.

1. Open the webpage in Google Chrome or the file, such as an email, that you want to save as a PDF. Tap the three vertical dots ⋮ at the top right of the screen in Chrome. The three vertical dots  will be at the bottom right in your email app.

2. Choose Share… in the menu that pops up. Then find Print on the bottom row of icons at the far right.

3. Notice the upside down triangle ▼ at the top right as your phone is creating the image to print. Tap it and choose Save as PDF, and as on your laptop, you can choose to save a range of pages instead of all.

4. Tap the PDF download button in a yellow circle and you’ll be allowed to choose the folder where you want it saved on your phone.

To open a PDF on your Android phone or tablet, open your Files app to locate the file and tap it. Unless you already have a PDF viewer app installed, such as Adobe or Microsoft Office, you’ll likely be prompted to use Google PDF Viewer or another app already on your phone, such as the Samsung PDF Reader.

To scan a document using your Android device’s camera and save or share it as a PDF, open the Google Drive app. Near the bottom right, tap the plus sign | Scan and take a photo of the document you’d like to scan. Tap OK if you’re satisfied with the scan, Retry if you want another chance.

4. Save a PDF from a scanner

And lest you forget, you can always scan a document into a PDF with your standalone printer/scanner as long as your system supports it.

Drop the document into the feeder or face down on the flatbed, select Scan | Save to your computer | PDF. The good news is that most models allow you to combine multiple pages into one scanned document.

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