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I'm looking for an extremely simple Windows PDF printer driver that I can recommend to clients. Ideally it would have these characteristics:

  • When you print something, it should just create it as a temporary file and then display it in their default PDF viewer with no prompting. If they want to save it, they can save it manually from inside the viewer. This workflow should be with no special post-install configuration.
  • Installation should be very simple. A double click the installation program and click "Finish" sort of thing. No complicated multi-step installation, no asking questions your grandmother wouldn't know the answer to (preferably no questions at all), no extra crap being installed. An option for a completely silent installation would be nice, but not necessary.
  • Ideally it would be free to simplify their installing on a small network, but low cost is an option.

I've tried a quite a few but none really fit the bill. Some can achieve the first goal but only after careful configuration, some try to install extra toolbars, some have other installation complexities that would make it hard for extremely novice users to succeed. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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If they could save from within the viewer then they'd already have Acrobat, which comes with a PDF print driver. –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams May 15 '10 at 17:26
PDFcreator? Did you try it? –  Shiki May 15 '10 at 17:57
@Ignacio: I think he's referring to Adobe Reader's "Save a copy to disk" function. –  ThatGraemeGuy May 15 '10 at 19:26
I've used PDFCreator myself in the past and while it works great, it doesn't meet my goals above. The installation is not simple enough (and wants to install the crap toolbar). While it's quite configurable, it's not the simple workflow I want out of the box (I don't recall if you can even configure it to just display the PDF without the typical PDFCreator dialog). I might be able to make a custom version it to do what I want, but I really didn't want to get that involved in the tool. –  Scott Bussinger May 16 '10 at 22:23
+1. Did you find any alternative? I'm in the exact situation and tried so many options... –  lepe Jul 15 '11 at 2:24

4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I'm in the exact situation as you. I evaluated several alternatives and this are my results:

1st Place: CC Free PDF. The installation is pretty simple (It seems not to accept silent install). After printing it shows only a save dialog and then opens that file. It is almost what you need. It's Open Source! (which means that if you know Visual C++, you can remove the saving dialog, and packet it in a way that will enable you to install it silently).

2nd Place: I liked pdf24 as it supports silent installation and after sending to print it only shows a very simple screen which is available in different Languages (with a single click you can open/save/etc.).

enter image description here

The best thing is that is free for personal and business use and It does not install anything additional. The only bad point is that is also installs "pdf24 editor" which is not needed.

3rd Place: Do PDF allows silent install as well but the dialog after printing is a little bit more advanced than pdf24.

This is what I have tried and the reasons I didn't choose them:

  • BullZip : it requires .NET framework[22MB] (so I didn't even try it)
  • CutePDF : it try to install Ask Bar and set it as home page.
  • PDF Creator: Suggest to install a Toolbar and too many complicated options during printing (not for granma).
  • CubePDF : Requires .NET framework and launch the browser during installation.
  • Fine Print: This one is great (allows remove unwanted pages, colors, images, use multiple pages in one) but not for granma... and it's not free (it includes a link in your pages if you use it for free).
  • PDF redirect: It does not show a dialog after printing, it opens an application! (too complicated)
  • Perfect PDF Master: Requires Visual C++ 2008 libraries and launches IE after the installation.
  • PDFLite: Suggest to install Yahoo Bar and set it as home page.
  • WinPDF: Almost good... except that try to install RealPlayer.
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Wow -- thanks for a great answer after all this time! No perfect match, but making a custom version of CC Free PDF might not be a bad option. –  Scott Bussinger Jul 15 '11 at 5:44
I contacted "Cogniview Support" (CC PDF owners) and they send me the NSIS installer script file (missing in the source code). I added the "silent" mode to it, and now it is working fine. I already send them back the modifications (which probably they will use it in the next version). Meanwhile, if you are interested, may I contact you though your personal website (to send you that file)? I'm still working in disabling the saving dialog... –  lepe Jul 21 '11 at 1:06
I'm done with the changes to their code in order to achieve what we wanted (save it to a temporally directory and open it without showing any dialog). So far works fine. I have to say that 64bits is not supported (depends on Redmon for the virtual printer). Let me know if you are interested so I can send you what I have. –  lepe Jul 21 '11 at 4:47
Great lepe! Drop me at email to scottb at bussinger.org –  Scott Bussinger Jul 28 '11 at 15:25
Excellent answer. Very glad I live in a world with stackexchange. –  Sam Watkins May 21 '14 at 4:27

I'm not sure about the first part, but I like CutePDF:http://www.cutepdf.com/

It's free and very easy.

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I have used CutePDF on many machines without any problems. It used ghostscript and some other tools on the backend, and wraps it all up with an easy to use interface. –  pcapademic May 15 '10 at 18:50
A big problem from looking at the webpage is that ghostscript has to be downloaded separately making it rather more complicated to install than I want. I didn't try it to see if the desired workflow is supported. Again a custom version option is possible, but I'm not making any money on this so paying several hundred dollar for one of their custom versions isn't attractive. –  Scott Bussinger May 16 '10 at 22:27
It is really not difficult to set up. Try it, you'll see. Regards. –  Xavierjazz May 30 '10 at 18:11
Installing it with ninite seems to handle the dependancies automatically –  Journeyman Geek Nov 29 '11 at 4:52

Bullzip is my standard go to app. I've used it a long time and I've never had problems with it. It's free and it just works 99.999% of the time for what I've used it for.

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Bullzip's installation asks way too many questions, it also always displays a dialog rather than just opening the PDF. My primary goal here is very simple, not very powerful. –  Scott Bussinger May 16 '10 at 22:35

I usually install either doPDF or PDFCreator which are both free, but the one that best fits your wishes is pdfFactory, which is not free.

pdfFactory shows you a preview of the pdf file before actually saving it. It does so out of the box. You can even do some post-processing such as watermarking, but I think that out of your scope.

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