When PDF Beats ZIP for Attaching and Extracting Files

Did you know that you can embed any number of file attachments into your PDF file when you use Foxit PhantomPDF? It’s true. And there are a couple of reasons that doing so is better than just zipping up a bunch of files on your PC.

First, anyone who receives your PDF file can extract the attachments and use them with free a PDF reader like foxit reader. You can even compress your attachments using the most popular compression method—the same one that ZIP files use. (It’s lossless, which means when decompressed, it’s the same as before you compressed it so no data is lost.)

Another benefit is that when you create this kind of “PDF envelope,” the digital signatures you use can apply to all your attachments automatically since they’re considered part of the PDF file. It’s another helpful PDF security feature organizations such as government agencies and law firms can use to send digitally certified PDF files containing data file attachments. Recipients can then authenticate the PDF and all of its attachments to ensure that they came from the authentic sending organization and are tamper-free.

In addition to those handy features, you can use XML in your PDF file to provide all the metadata—in other words, the additional information that anyone needs to use the data you’ve attached. All they need is a pdf reader like Foxit Reader that can display attachment annotations and extract the attachments.

You can also enhance richly formatted PDF information files with the raw data files that were used to create the pdfs.  For example, if your document contains charts, graphics or other visual information, you can attach the raw data you used to create those elements to your PDF file. Then just put an annotation on your chart or graphic that extracts the right attachment when someone clicks it. This lets recipients view and edit your source files for their own use or when collaborating with you.

Foxit PhantomPDF 6.0 also includes support for PDF portfolios created in other pdf software. A PDF portfolio is a PDF made up of a collection of multiple files, which can include both PDF files and non-PDF files such as Word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, or images. Foxit PhantomPDF can open and read PDF portfolios and perform searches either within a single file or across all PDF files in the portfolio. This means that if someone sends you a PDF portfolio, it essentially acts like a file folder of documents, hence the name PDF portfolio.

When you open a PDF portfolio, you’ll even see a panel that shows you a list of all attached files and any data provided, such as the author’s name, date the file was created, etc. And as discussed, the entire PDF can be secured, including the attachments, by requiring digital signatures or certification.

So the next time your mouse is hovering over the ZIP file compression, take a moment to consider whether it makes more sense to create a PDF with attachments that a) anyone with a PDF reader can view and b) can be secured with digital signatures or certification.


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