Auto-name and Auto-merge features in Win2PDF 7.5

While the “big feature” in our latest Win2PDF 7.5 release is official support of Windows 8, we also tucked in a few other enhancements.

The first is a new Auto-name feature, which allows the user to automatically save PDF files without prompting.  When this option is enabled, the PDF file is saved immediately after selecting Print from any application.  The file is named using the original document’s base name, along with a unique date and time stamp so you don’t need to worry about overwriting previously saved PDF files.  To enable it, you just need to go to the PDF Options… button and then check “Auto-name Files” on the Document tab, as seen below.

Auto-name Files in Win2PDF 7.5
Auto-name Files in Win2PDF 7.5

To see more information, including instructions for turning off this feature, please visit our Auto-name support page.  And for more advanced features, you can also still use our free Win2PDF Admin Utility for more naming options.

The second feature is Auto-merge.  This feature was created to fix a situation that occurs with some Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, but the feature applies to other applications as well.  When you print a workbook from Excel that has multiple worksheets, and the worksheets have different print areas, Excel splits up the print into several print jobs and sends them to the printer.  Essentially several print jobs are sent in rapid succession with the same file name.  With Win2PDF 7 and earlier versions, this resulted in prompts for a new file name for each print job.  Users had to manually append each print job together to assemble the complete PDF version of the Excel workbook.  If the Excel file had many worksheets, this could be a very tedious process.

With Win2PDF 7.5, this merging is done automatically.  If an application sends multiple print jobs with the same file name and in rapid succession, all files will be merged together without additional prompting.

And, as always, we continue to fix bugs and customer-reported issues.  There are dozens of fixes rolled into Win2PDF 7.5.

Still haven’t updated yet?  Download Win2PDF 7.5 now — it’s a free update for Win2PDF 7 users.  Even if you’re not going to Windows 8 right away, the new features and bug fixes will make it worthwhile.

Win2PDF 7.5 is now available for download!

Windows 8It’s official.  Windows 8 has launched and we’re ready for it.

Today marks the official release of Win2PDF 7.5 — the first version of Win2PDF that officially supports the Windows 8 operating system*.

Win2PDF 7.5 is a free update to registered Win2PDF 7 users and you can download it now.  If you have any questions about Win2PDF 7.5 or our support of Windows 8, please visit our support page and ask a question.

* Windows RT is not supported at this time.

Paul Allen’s take on Windows 8

As a follow up to our post on printing in Windows 8 from last week, Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen recently weighed in with his thoughts on their latest operating system.

“I did encounter some puzzling aspects of Windows 8. The bimodal user experience can introduce confusion… For example, after opening a PDF attachment in Outlook from the desktop, Windows opens the file in Microsoft Reader, an application more suited for use on a tablet, rather than the desktop Acrobat Reader.”

This is specifically referring to the new Microsoft Reader app, which is included in Windows 8.  You will still be able to download and install the free Adobe Reader software (and other PDF viewers), but because Microsoft Reader is the default reader app for PDF files, it may be a little confusing at first.

PDF users will likely run into some of these puzzling aspects (as we did).  If you’re planning on moving to Windows 8, it’s worthwhile to do a little reading on these new interface changes.  Paul’s overview is a good place to start.

Printing in Windows 8

We’ve started getting questions about printing in Windows 8 and if Win2PDF will work with the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system.  The short answer is yes* and we have a pre-release version available today.  We’ll have an official release available once Windows 8 is officially released.

*Except for Windows 8 RT – the version of Windows 8 for ARM-based devices.

UPDATE (10/25/2012):  Win2PDF 7.5 is now available and it officially supports Windows 8

Today’s post will be an overview of what’s different about printing with Windows 8, and how that will affect Win2PDF users specifically.

1)  What is Windows 8?

Windows 8 is the latest operating system from Microsoft (following Windows 7) and it has been specially adapted to support a greater array of hardware devices, especially touch screen tablets, laptops, and desktop monitors.

While the underlying operating system is built on the Windows 7 foundation, Windows 8 is going present some changes for most users (at least in terms of interface).  This is particularly true when it comes to printing.  And since Win2PDF installs a printer, this interface change will be noticed by Win2PDF users.

2)  Windows 8 and Printing

Windows 8 introduces a new architecture for printers.  This architecture change won’t greatly affect the way Win2PDF works from the end-user’s perspective so we won’t go into the details here.  But, if you’re interested,you can read an in-depth overview from Microsoft’s developer blog.

Window 8 also introduces a completely new application interface for many software programs, something they refer to as Windows 8 style apps.  (This interface style was formerly known as Metro style apps, but Microsoft has since discontinued the use of this term). This will be a tiled, full-screen interface that works for all computers but optimized for tablet computing and touch-screen laptops/ultrabooks/displays.  Windows 8 will also support the more traditional desktop apps, which is the same interface most applications used in Windows 7 or Windows XP.

3) Win2PDF Support

The good news is that we do have a version that currently works with Windows 8 (both desktop and Windows 8 style apps) and it can be downloaded from our Win2PDF hotfix download page.

Once Windows 8 is officially released by Microsoft, we’ll have a version that officially supports it directly on our main download page.  There will not be a charge to upgrade to the Windows 8 compatible version of Win2PDF for users of Win2PDF 7 or above.

Lastly, Microsoft introduced a version of the operating system called Windows 8 RT, which is the operating system used on ARM-based computers.  This version of Windows 8 will only work with Windows 8 style apps that are either pre-installed or that are available through the Microsoft app store.  Win2PDF will not support Windows 8 RT at the time of the Windows 8 official release.

4)  Printing to PDF using Win2DPF in Windows 8

To use Win2PDF with desktop apps, not much has changed.  Here’s a short video that shows Win2PDF creating a PDF file from a desktop app (or see our Win2PDF support page on this topic):

To use Win2PDF with Windows 8 style apps is a bit different.  Here is a short video that shows Win2PDF creating a PDF file from a Windows 8 style app (or see our Win2PDF support page on this topic):

The key differences with printing to Windows 8 style apps are:

  1. Printers are accessed as Devices, which can be found in the Charm bar.  You can access the Charm bar by moving the cursor to the right side of the screen and swiping up in a Windows 8 style app.
  2. From Devices, you choose the printer named ‘Win2PDF’ and then print.  Immediately after printing, you will receive a notification in the upper right corner of the screen.  “The printer requires your attention.  Go to the desktop to take care of it.
  3. Click on this notification.  This will bring you to the desktop where you will see the normal Win2PDF file save window.
  4. Then you can set the file name and and save the PDF as you normally would.  If you click ‘View PDF’ and your default PDF viewer is a Windows 8 style app, then it will open up back in the Windows 8 full screen interface.

How to transfer a PDF file to an Apple iPad (or iPhone)

We get this question frequently:  Can I send a PDF file from my Windows PC to my  iPhone or iPad?  Can I do this even if my iPhone/iPad isn’t connected to the PC?

Yes and yes. There are several ways of doing this, but the easiest method that we found is to just create and email the PDF file to your iOS connected email account.  This is quite easy and can be achieved in 3 simple steps.

1)  On your Windows computer, open and print the document you wish to view on your iPad or iPhone.  Using our Win2PDF software, for example, there is an option on the file save window to “Send file…” (see screen shot below). When this option is checked, the PDF file will be created and attached to a new email message.

Win2PDF Send PDF option

2) Send the PDF file to the email account associated with your Apple iPhone or Apple iPad device.

iPad PDF email attachment

3) On the iPhone or iPad, touch the PDF document and you will be able to open and view the PDF file.  If you choose “Open in…”  You can save the PDF file permanently to your device.  Just select the built-in iBooks application, or another iOS application (like Adobe Reader, if you have the app installed) to save and view the PDF file.

Open PDF on iPad

That’s it.  To see step-by-step instructions for each platform specifically, click for iPhone instructions or iPad instructions.

And here’s the support topic for Apple’s iBook application that provides more detail as well.

Can I prevent the copying of an ebook by saving it as a security-enabled PDF?

I’m writing an ebook and I want to protect the document from being copied. Can I do this by creating a security-enabled PDF?

This is a question we get periodically and the short answer is No.  At least not with the standard PDF format.

There are security features that can be enabled in a PDF document, but none of these features will prevent the file from being digitally copied. To restrict a document or ebook’s access in terms of copying, you would need a more advanced form of Digital Rights Management (DRM).

The advantage of using PDF to secure documents is that files can be opened easily with any compatible PDF viewer (like Adobe Reader), which is widely available on most computers. Advanced DRM solutions typically require another piece of hardware or software to open the file. For example, consider the Amazon Kindle ebook format (which is different than PDF). This file format utilizes DRM, but it also requires a Kindle (hardware) or Kindle Reader application (software) to open and view the file. It’s good at controlling the distribution of the file, but it’s not as universally accessible.

So, what security features can you enable in a PDF file?

First, to use any PDF security features you must first set an encryption level — how strong is the protection — when creating the PDF file. The encryption level for PDF files can be set to either 40-bit or 128-bit. The 128-bit encryption is stronger, but it requires Adobe Reader 4.x or higher to view the file. The 40-bit encryption isn’t as strong, but it can be opened with older versions of PDF viewers. If you want the greatest security, 128-bit is best choice and shouldn’t be a problem for most users.

After the encryption level has been set, you can set permissions within the PDF file. Permissions control what can be done within the file. The following options can be disabled in PDF:

  • modifying the PDF,
  • printing the PDF, or
  • copy text or images from the PDF file.

Additionally, you can set 2 levels of passwords — a required Master Password (which can be used to unlock an encrypted PDF file for editing) and an optional User Password (which is needed to open and view a PDF file).

Applying security to a PDF file is a great way to prevent sensitive information from being copied, or viewed by unauthorized users, or being printed. It will not, however, prevent someone from emailing or redistributing the PDF file.

If controlling the distribution of an ebook is most important, you may want to consider an advanced DRM solution.  Or, then again, you may not.  The music industry struggled with different DRM formatted music files only to abandom them for unencrypted MP3 files,  and now the publishing industry is testing the same waters.  But some authors are bucking the trend and releasing their books DRM-free — even popular ebooks like Harry Potter.

If it is more important to control the content of an ebook, then a secure PDF file may work best.  

Here’s a YouTube video that shows how the security features are enabled using our Win2PDF Pro product.

And, if you’re considering publishing to an established eBook format other than PDF, you might want to check out this list of eBook formats for reference.

Video tutorials and online support

A few weeks ago 60 Minutes ran a story about Khan Academy, a non-profit web site started by Sal Khan, who initially created online video lessons to help tutor his niece in math.  Before long,  others were following his video guides on YouTube and now the web site he helped start is one of the major online learning hubs on the internet.

As software developers, one of the issues we frequently encounter – especially in technical support – is how to explain things in simple terms so that even inexperienced computer users can understand our product and how to make it work.

Over the years we’ve expanded our online documentation and knowledgebase to include a lot of information on how to do different things and trouble-shoot problems, but now we are starting to add screen capture video to help explain the basic uses for Win2PDF.  Here’s an example of a basic screen capture video that we used to describe how to create a simple PDF file.

For the video tutorial creation, we’ve played around with several different software packages and we’re currently using Camtasia Studio from TechSmith.  So far it seems to work for our purposes.

The home for these new video tutorials will be our Win2PDF YouTube channel.  Add it to your favorites in YouTube, or watch this space as we continue to add more tutorials.