What You Lose When You Print to PDF

Most businesses and industries have come to rely on PDF documents. They use PDF software to create technical manuals, e-books, white papers, brochures, instruction manuals, fillable forms, and even digital copies of random documents.

Since the file format is so popular, many applications provide users with the ability to Print to PDF as an option. With this feature, users can easily create a PDF version of whatever they want simply by telling the computer to “print” a file. Instead of putting ink to paper, the Print to PDF feature saves a copy of the file with the .pdf extension. This file behaves, essentially, like we would expect a document created with PDF software would. It’s portable across any computing platform so people can share the file. This is, however, where the power of the PDF gets lost in translation.

Lost features

When you choose to Print to PDF you lose a great deal of the features that PDF software has to offer. For starters, you’re limited in how you lay out your document. Printing to PDF simply takes a snapshot of the file and renders it exactly as it looks in its native format. You don’t have the option to rearrange or resize text and images as you would with your own PDF software.

Print to PDF typically does not provide options such as supporting the PDF/A standard for archiving, including attachments, creating bookmarks, or outputting to a PDF portfolio.  Professional PDF software will include these capabilities when creating PDF.

Without a fully featured PDF software solution, you also lose out on the ability to create fillable forms. Printing a document as a PDF file may give you the option to include text boxes where a person may write in their responses, but they won’t be able to fill the form out on their computer.

Embedding multimedia files into a document is another area where printing a file to PDF comes up short. Using your PDF software, you have the option to embed images, video and audio files into your document. Printing limits you to only the images included in the original file.

Security

Another area where printing comes up short is in securing the document. PDF software allows you to protect a document from editing, printing or even viewing if the recipient doesn’t have the right permissions. Merely printing a file out with the .pdf extension doesn’t give you this ability. The only protection this offers is the ability to prevent people without PDF software from making changes to the file.

Document encryption and digital signature features are also absent in a printed PDF file. These are easy to apply when using the right tool, however, your computer’s print capabilities will not offer this.

So why use Print to PDF?

Some people use the Print to PDF method because their application already provides this function. Others may not be aware of the feature set that comes with a professional grade PDF editor such as PhantomPDF.

If you’re creating the occasional PDF file, printing may be an option. If, however, you’re creating professional, business documents then using the print option just won’t do.


22 thoughts on “What You Lose When You Print to PDF

  1. Gerald Boen

    I have been using the trial version of PhantomPDF with the hope of purchasing it. I am trying to translate some documents into a different language. The text is formatted with an embedded font which I want to continue using. I can replace the text, but the line spacing suddenly changes and the appearance is no longer acceptable. The font is still the same. The main obstacle I have is the lack of information on how to modify the attributes of text such as size, spacing and line spacing. The help pages do not cover this. If I can find good documentation on these matters I will probably purchase the product. But without this it will not serve my purpose.

    Reply
  2. Philip Franckel

    I print to PDF when I have to redact information such as a social security number or date of birth. I have to upload PDF/A to the court system and it passes their test so I have been doing it that way. Is there a better or easier way to do it? I am using Foxit Business.

    Reply
    1. FOXITBLOG Post author

      If your using MS Word and PhantomPDF Business, I suggest using the Mark for Redaction capability in the FOXIT PDF tab within MS Word. This plug-in gets installed in MS Word during your PhantomPDF installation. If you not using MS Word, I would still convert to PDF using PhantomPDF instead of using your application’s convert to PDF capability. After conversion, you can redact within PhantomPDF.

      Reply
  3. Patrick Kofi Brown

    When I convert PDF extension files to word most pictures don’t appear. Formulas and tables also distort. Why?

    Reply
    1. FOXITBLOG Post author

      We are sorry you are having problems exporting. Exporting to MS Office is tricky – we are looking to improve this support in a release of PhantomPDF later this year.

      Reply
  4. Mitzie Brown

    I didn’t understand most of what this blog says but what I do understand is that Foxit does not work in the new Windows 10 I have on my computer. How can it be repaired or deleted.

    Reply
  5. de knoop

    avec Windows 10 pas moyen de pouvoir ouvrir un fichier PDF j’ai Foxit Phantom PDF6.0 avec ma version wondows8 que dois-je faire ? merci

    Reply
    1. FOXITBLOG Post author

      Lors de la conversion à Windows 10 , si vous ne faites pas attention , vous pouvez perdre vos applications ou soit PhantomPDF que le lecteur de PDF par défaut . Donc , d’abord vérifier si le PhantomPDF est toujours là . Si non , s’il vous plaît ré-installer . Si oui , s’il vous plaît démarrer et le définir comme votre lecteur de PDF par défaut.

      When converting to Windows 10, if you’re not careful, you can lose either your applications or PhantomPDF as the default PDF reader. So, first check to see if the PhantomPDF is still there. If not, please re-install. If so, please start it and set it as your default PDF reader.

      Reply
  6. worksong

    Print-to-PDF solutions [MS Word is a great example] invariably create files that are far larger than needed. I hate to use more bandwidth & storage than required, & would not email a multi-megabyte attachment to customers, colleagues or friends when a file 10-20% as large can accurately transmit the same content.

    Reply
  7. Will Stubbs

    When it comes time to archive those PDF forms that have been filled out on a computer, it’s important to be able to lock them down from editing later. Does PhantomPDF allow for PDFs to be flattened from a command line the way that Foxit Reader allows for printing from a command line using the /t flag? As it stands this is the only way to “flatten” a fill-able document from a command line interface.

    Reply
    1. FOXITBLOG Post author

      You can flatten files in PhantomPDF using the Organize tab, but not from a command line. In the future, we are planning to build a CLI for flatten in our PDF Toolkit product line.

      Reply
  8. Robert L. Morrison

    If you want Foxit to create a document form the beginning, you better offer some courses on how you can do this. Very few have the time to learn this on their own which could take weeks to months and even then get it wrong.

    Reply
    1. FOXITBLOG Post author

      Here is a link to some online tutorials – https://www.foxitsoftware.com/support/tutorial/

      Also, you may have misunderstood me – sorry I wasn’t more clear. Instead of converting a document to PDF using your applications’ “Save as PDF” or “Print as PDF” function, convert it using Foxit Reader or Foxit PhantomPDF instead. There is a tutorial on how to do this on the above webpage.

      Reply

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