Get Into Your PDF Flow using Microsoft’s Power Automate Desktop Software

Soooo many requests:

“I wish there was an easy way to convert all of these text files to PDF automatically.”

“Why can’t I just save an entire series of web pages as searchable PDF files?”

“How can I consolidate weekly reports from different applications and formats to a single PDF file without spending my whole afternoon doing so?”

These and other questions arrive in our email inbox daily. It seems everybody has some level of repetitive PDF processing that they do and are looking for an easier way to get it done. And since many of these issues are specific to a particular application or to your own business process, it’s not easy to find a one-size-fits-all solution that gives you the type of “push button” solution you really want.

That’s one reason why we’ve been so focused on creating tools like Win2PDF Auto-name, Win2PDF command-line processing, Win2PDF Plug-ins, and Win2PDF mail integrations. All of these features give powerful automation control to the user to eliminate repetitive steps and reduce processing errors.

Now, there’s something that combines all of these Win2PDF “tools” into a single problem-solving toolkit that works with all of your files and other applications. And best yet, it won’t cost you a penny!

Microsoft’s new Power Automate Desktop software is a free download for Windows 10 users that allows you to easily automate any repetitive tasks from your desktop, including the creation or manipulation of PDF files using Win2PDF. Once installed, you just need to create a desktop flow (the series of steps that automate a specific action or task). And no, you don’t need to be a coder to use it. Microsoft has a simple interface that most anyone can use.

It’s quite easy to build your first desktop flow using either pre-built drag-and-drop actions or by recording your own desktop flows to run later. For this latter method, it works similar to macros in Microsoft Office, by recording repetitive actions from your desktop across multiple applications—like your web browser, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook, Win2PDF, etc.—and then lets you replay the automation whenever needed.

For example, a quick desktop flow to convert all TXT files in a folder to PDF using Win2PDF (using the Win2PDF Auto-name feature) might look something like this:

A very simple recipe like this could save you a lot of time if you are currently working with PDF files regularly and in the same manner.

We’ll be diving into this topic in a bit more detail in future posts, including some more detailed examples where this might be useful. In the meantime, get into the flow and download the Power Automate Desktop software today and look at the Win2PDF Power Automate documentation to see what it can do for you.

Win2PDF Plug-Ins Extend Features Specific to Customers’ Needs

Last month we introduced a new Win2PDF Plug-In for Slack, and this month we’re back with several new Win2PDF Plug-Ins.

A Win2PDF Plug-In is simply a small customizable program that can be created, modified, or installed that will give the user an option to automatically take some action with the PDF file after it has been created. It allows Win2PDF’s functionality to be extended to address specific customer needs or workflow integrations. For example, it has already been used by customers to upload PDF files to a content management system, automatically make archival copies of PDFs, store PDF in cloud-based services, delete blank pages, split PDF files into single page documents, use multiple watermarks, and send a PDF file to a specific email program.

Why use Plug-Ins? Why not just add these features directly to Win2PDF?

The Win2PDF Plug-Ins were created specifically to add capabilities that might be unique to each customer. Most of the new Plug-Ins were unique or very specific to a customer request, so they may not be useful to the user base at large. Rather than clutter the main Win2PDF program with these types of unique features, we allow them to be created, customized and added as needed for each customer.

As of today, there are 8 additional Plug-Ins available for download at our GitHub page. [GitHub is a central code repository for our Plug-In samples — you can download compiled Plug-Ins that are ready to use, or, if you are a developer, you can download and modify the source code to build your own Plug-Ins specific to your needs. These examples show what can be done with Win2PDF, and provide a template for future solutions.]

The new Plug-Ins are:

  • PDF Send To Outlook – Add a “Send To Outlook” option to Win2PDF File Save window to automatically attach a PDF to an Outlook email message.
  • PDF Duplicate File – Automatically make a duplicate copy of the newly created PDF file in a designated duplicate file folder which may reside on a shared network location or in a cloud based folder (OneDrive, DropBox, Google Drive).
  • PDF Print Logger – Automatically log files created by Win2PDF to the Windows Event Log.
  • PDF Archive File – Automatically archive newly created PDF files created by Win2PDF in a designated archive file folder which may reside on a shared network location or in a cloud based folder (OneDrive, DropBox, Google Drive). Files are appended to an archive PDF named based on the current date.
  • PDF Delete Pages – Automatically deletes extra pages from a newly created PDF.
  • PDF Split Pages – Automatically splits a multi-page PDF into separate one page PDFs.
  • PDF Apply Multiple Watermarks – Automatically apply different watermarks to separate sections of a PDF [Requires Win2PDF Pro].
  • PDF Image Only Flattener – Automatically merge watermark layers into a single layer Image Only PDF [Requires Win2PDF Pro].

A few other notes:

  • The samples only allow one Win2PDF Plug-In used for each instance of the Win2PDF printer.
  • If you wish to remove a particular Win2PDF Plug-In, you can use the Windows Add/Remove Programs feature to uninstall.
  • All of the Win2PDF Plug-Ins hosted on this page can be used at no charge. Some only work with licensed versions of Win2PDF. Contact [email protected] for a 30 day evaluation license.
  • An evaluation version of Win2PDF can be downloaded for free at https://www.win2pdf.com/download/

If you have any requests for Plug-Ins, let us know. We’re interested in building out this capability with more examples, so if you have a particular integration or special need, send an email to [email protected] and tell us about your requirements. If it’s something we can assist with, we’ll be happy to help.

For now, hop over to the Win2PDF Plug-Ins page and take a look.

Content-based File Naming with Win2PDF

*** NEW FEATURE ALERT ***

In our latest Win2PDF 10.0.58 update we added a new feature for content-based file naming. It allows a PDF file to be named based on a certain word or set of characters that reside inside of the document being printed.

Here is the customer situation that prompted the new feature:

A county sheriff’s department wanted to generate PDF files from a legacy AS/400 application. A secretary named the PDF files based on a document number that was listed in the original document, and because she did so manually it was time-consuming and error-prone.

An example transport order from the sheriff’s department looked like this:

sheriff1

With the content-based file naming feature in Win2PDF, however, this process is automated. It allows Win2PDF to search the text of a document being printed, find a target search word, and use the following word as the PDF file name. It requires that PDF files contain text with a common search word that exists in all PDF files. (*Note: The “word” can be numbers or any character string that has a space before and after the “word”).

In the sheriff’s example, the content search word is specified as “DOC #:” in the Win2PDF Admin Utility.

sheriff2

Then, in the Document section of the Win2PDF file save options, the “User Defined” field was enabled with “%PDFAutoNameContentSearch%.pdf” as the file name.

win2pdf-auto-name-content-based-naming

The result? When each file is printed, Win2PDF searches for the document number in the original file, and then automatically names the PDF file with this number. No possibility of manual errors or extra time involved.  In this case, the file was automatically named “118277.pdf” when the file was printed.

Again, this was a relatively simple modification that we were able to do for customer that had a particular need and had no ability to change the original AS/400 program printing the documents.

If you have a similar need, let us know and we may be able to help.

Win2PDF for the Enterprise: Integration

In our last post, we talked about how Win2PDF can be customized for the enterprise.  In this post, we’ll continue the theme of enterprise users but focus on how Win2PDF can be integrated with other applications or business processes.

img_488306First, all of the Win2PDF products make use of the standard Windows API for printers. This means other applications can print to Win2PDF automatically, without any user interaction.  It does require some level of technical proficiency in programming, but there are a variety of programming environments we have documentation for, including Visual Basic (VB), Visual C for Crystal Reports, .NET, and Microsoft Access.  For a broader perspective all all features, just visit the Developer Information section of the Win2PDF user guide.

This in and of itself is a powerful tool that allows enterprises to create PDF files with specific naming conventions, file locations, and output options automatically.

Other useful features for incorporating Win2PDF with enterprise processes are:

  • Post-action setting:  This is a registry setting that can be set to allow the PDF created by Win2PDF to be passed to another program.  This can be useful for doing a secondary step with the PDF file, like processing it into a document management, email, printing, or reporting application.
  • Command-Line interface:  This was something we recently added and dedicated a blog post to it earlier this year.  It supports simple command line access to Win2PDF for merging, compressing, extracting pages, encrypting, and a variety of other PDF functions.
  • Win2PDF Mail Helper:  This free utility provides a SMTP mail client that can be used to send PDF files via email without user interaction.

Basically, if you have the ability to modify the application you are using to generate PDF files, using the integration options described here will give you the most powerful and flexible options to link PDF files into your workflow processes.  If you do not have the ability to modify the application, then the customization options for the enterprise would be the best option.

Let us know if you have questions about these or any other integration issues.  Again, if you can think of a situation where your PDF files can be incorporated into an enterprise process, there’s a good chance we’ve already figured out a way to make it happen.