Working from Home Due to Coronavirus? Remember WinPDF Can Help

With more and more office workers now being asked to work from home, it’s probably a good time to revisit how PDF files can help with your day-to-day workflow. Here are a few tips:

  • First and foremost — Win2PDF makes it easy to go paperless! Just use PDF files for document transfers instead of printing and sharing paper! PDF is an acronym for Portable Document Format and it can be shared with any type of user using any type of operating system. If you send a Word or Excel file, a smartphone user or a coworker on an Apple iMac or Macbook may not be able to open the document if they don’t have a Word or Excel viewer installed. PDF files, on the other hand, are universal and can be read by Windows computers, Apple computers, Chromebooks, Unix and Linux computers, iPhones, Android phones, tablets, etc.
  • Second, if you’re using Win2PDF, remember to use the ‘Send file’ option to automatically attach a PDF file to a new email message. It’ll save you a few clicks each time you create a PDF file if you need to share it with others.
  • Fourth, even the free Adobe Acrobat Reader DC program (which is installed on most PCs) has basic tools to comment, annotate, and sign documents. It’s a good way to share feedback when you do send or receive PDF files.
  • Fifth, convert legacy reporting programs to paperless systems by using the Win2PDF Auto-name feature. Need to share different reports with different departments? Add separate copies of Win2PDF and configure them for users of each department. Once reports are in PDF format instead of paper, they’re easy to view and share with users wherever they are located.
  • And lastly, make sure Win2PDF is loaded on your home PC as well. Did you know that the Win2PDF end-user license agreement allows you to install the desktop software on both a work computer and a home computer at no additional charge? You do now.

Win2PDF Celebrates 20 Years!

Now that we’ve made it to 2020, we’re proud to announce that this year marks Win2PDF’s 20th year anniversary. We sold our first desktop version of Win2PDF in 2000, and we’ve spent the last 20 years expanding and improving the software based on feedback from our users. We’re proud to be an independent software creator and we wouldn’t have made it without the support of all the Win2PDF users. So to our customers we say THANK YOU!

After the initial desktop Win2PDF software was released, we introduced Win2PDF Pro (with expanded capabilities for businesses needing strong document encryption, watermarks, and other advanced features). Then we added our Win2PDF Terminal Server Edition (TSE) and Win2PDF Pro TSE versions, which supported Microsoft and Citrix terminal server environments for multiple users and server-based applications. We’ve also created and expanded developer APIs and introduced a developer version of Win2PDF that will allow other programs to distribute a special version of Win2PDF with their own applications.

Through the years we’ve continued to update and expand the features of Win2PDF, added a Win2Image printer (included with all Win2PDF purchases) that saves files in a variety of image formats, supported every major Windows desktop and server operating system at the date of its release, and provided free utilities and documentation to aid users with a variety of PDF solutions.

So what about our plans for the future? We can summarize our plans in three words: Support, Continuation and Enhancement. Our focus is on expanding the Win2PDF product line to provide continued support of all new operating system releases from Microsoft, expanding the capabilities of Win2PDF, and focusing on customer solutions and ease of use issues.

Once again, to our users… THANK YOU!

Change the default file name when saving PDF files

The Win2PDF Auto-name feature makes it easy to customize the file name and automatically save a PDF without prompting, but what if you want the File Save window to appear so you can email, print, or manually change the file name?

We just released Win2PDF 10.0.56 (available as a free update to Win2PDF 10 users), and one of the new features is the ability to customize the default file name that is used to save PDF files in the Win2PDF File Save window. For example, in previous releases if you had a Word file named “Sales Report.docx” and you went to print it as a PDF file, the default name in the Win2PDF File Save window would be named “Sales Report.pdf”. You could always change this name, but there wasn’t a way to customize this name when you first entered the file save window.

This is now customizable. If go to the Document tab after clicking on the PDF Options… button, you see some new options.

NewSaveAsOptions

When the the Auto-name Files option is unchecked, the settings in this window apply to the name displayed in the Win2PDF File Save window. You can add a fixed file name start, a date stamp, or a timestamp. Advanced users can customize the order of these items using the user defined setting.

In the screen shot example listed above, the month-day-year was added to the default “Sales Report” file name. While this option is set, the date stamp will be applied to all file names when you print to Win2PDF. You can automate your PDF workflow by creating multiple Win2PDF printers, each with different customized default file names.

The customizable PDF file name feature can save time by eliminating the need to manually type date or time information to the file name.

Download the new Win2PDF 10.0.56 software at the download page of our web site.

Start Organizing Next Year’s Tax Documents – Part II

As a followup to last week’s post, one of our readers suggested another way of using Win2PDF to create a single tax-related archival PDF file.  Here’s what she suggested:

  1. Create a copy of the Win2PDF printer that is dedicated for saving tax-related documents.  Call it something like, “Win2PDF – Tax Archive
  2. Change the Auto-name settings on this printer with the following options.
    • Set the file name to something like “Tax Archive.pdf
    • Check the option to include date and set it to “Year Only
    • Check the append option
  3. Whenever you have a tax-related document you wish to preserve (like an email confirmation for an online donation, or a medical receipt), print this document to your “Win2PDF – Tax Archive” printer.

The document you print will automatically be appended to this 2019 Tax Archive.pdf file.  When the new year arrives, it will create and start writing to 2020 Tax Archive.pdf.  And that’s it.  You’ll have one single PDF file to review before you do next year’s taxes.

Survive This Tax Season? Start Organizing Next Year’s Tax Documents Now!

If you’re like most of us, there’s nothing like the looming deadline of April 15th to rouse you into organizing your tax documents.  Every year, I think I should have a better system of organizing my files to make it easier for the following year.  While not perfect, I have made some progress through the use of a couple free Adobe apps, combined with the use of Win2PDF.  Here’s one system I use:

Adobe Reader DC

First off, I rely on the free Adobe Reader DC software for my desktop PC, laptop, and even my Apple computer.  The “DC” designation in this software stands for Document Cloud.  It requires you to sign up for a free Adobe login to access the Adobe Document Cloud, but once you do, you’ll be able to access your saved PDF files from any device.

Adobe Scan (for iOS or Android)

adc-adobe-scan-app-enhance-feature-450x500-en.jpeg.imgSecond, I’ve really come to rely on the very handy Adobe Scan app on my phone (it’s available both through the Apple App Store or from the Google Play Store).

As the Adobe introduction page points out, “Adobe Scan automatically captures and cleans picture-perfect images of anything — receipts, forms, pictures, business cards, notes. Then, using built-in optical character recognition (OCR), it transforms them into smart PDFs, available in Adobe Document Cloud. Now, they’re easy to search and share from anywhere.

With those 2 applications (plus Win2PDF) I can do a bunch of things to organize my tax documents (or any other documents).  Here’s one suggestion for storing charitable donation receipts:

  1. Scan paper receipts for charitable contributions (donation receipts, mailed letters, etc.) using Adobe Scan with your phone and save the files to the cloud.
  2. On the desktop PC, access these files using the Adobe Document Cloud (via Adobe Reader DC).
  3. Use Win2PDF to append any additional electronic documents (email receipts, other PDF files, etc.) and combine all of the charitable contribution receipts for the year in a single PDF file (e.g., to a file called “Charitable Tax Receipts 2019.pdf”).
  4. Keep this document stored in the Adobe Document Cloud (or any other cloud service like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) and keep adding to it throughout the year as you make contributions and collect receipts.
  5. When April 15, 2020 rolls around you’ll have a complete electronic file of your receipts.  Voilà!
  6. And, as a bonus, you can use the new Win2PDF command line features to extract specific pages or print specific pages if you need to in the future.

This works well for charitable contributions, but I also have been using it for non-tax purposes as well, such as:

  • Medical expenses and prescriptions
  • Home improvement expenses
  • My dog’s veterinary bills (and medical history)
  • Keeping a copy of Christmas cards we receive each year (while recycling all of the paper)
  • Recipes
  • Concert ticket stubs

You get the idea.  Just scan and save from your phone, organize everything from your desktop, and store you collection of PDF files in the cloud.  And best of all this is all FREE!  Which is a very nice thing to consider, especially after tax season…

New Auto-name features in Win2PDF 10

One of the most significant improvements to Win2PDF 10 is the enhanced Auto-name options.  The Auto-name feature allows you to save a PDF file without being prompted for the file name.  You can simply print any document and the file will automatically be saved in a location of your choosing, with a file name that you’ve customized.  This Win2PDF 10 update improves the user-defined options that are available to use for the file name.

Here is a brief video that shows how to use this new feature.

For a complete description of the Auto-name feature, visit the Win2PDF online support guide sections on How to Automatically Name PDF Files.

Win2PDF Support for Windows 10 Editions and Release Date

Microsoft has announced the following planned editions of Windows 10, with each edition serving a core device and/or type of user.

Once Windows 10 is released, Win2PDF will support these editions of Windows 10 using the familiar ‘Print to PDF’ interface as in past editions.

  • Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • Windows 10 Enterprise
  • Windows 10 Education

Win2PDF will NOT support these mobile editions of Windows 10, however.

  • Windows 10 Mobile
  • Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise

The mobile editions are designed primarily for phones and tablet devices that run on non-Intel processors, and will not have the same type of printing interface that the desktop operating systems have.

Microsoft also announced that Windows 10 will be available on July 29, 2015.  Get ready.  We’ll be posting more updates as the release date approaches.

Using PDF Software with VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) Solutions

Recently we’ve been getting some questions about using Win2PDF in a virtualized desktop environment. Specifically, how can customers license and install Win2PDF in this type of configuration.

The good news is that Win2PDF is supported and it works the same as in the traditional individual PC environment. Before we get into the specifics, we should provide a little overview to this topic. What exactly is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), or as it is also called, Desktop Virtualization?

Traditionally, a typical corporate IT department will manage a large number of physical PCs. Each employee may have a desktop or laptop PC (or both), and loaded onto each PC are operating systems, service packs, anti-virus software, office applications, printer drivers, and a host of other computer programs. For large organizations in particular, maintaining this type of computer environment can be quite challenging since the applications are installed specific to the hardware of each PC. And each user may update or upgrade applications at different rates, creating a patchwork of different versions for applications on different PCs.  And if a computer fails, the user may lose data or be offline for a period of time.

This is where VDI becomes useful. Essentially, it is a way of easily managing user desktops by using software that separates the desktop and associated applications from the physical client device that is used to access it. Since the desktops are not dependent on the physical hardware of each PC, the IT department can create a standard image that contains the desired operating system version and all of their applications.  A VDI service then connects users to virtual machines running the standard image.

Desktop Virtualization Benefits
Desktop Virtualization Benefits

The advantages of this type of configuration are numerous. Rather than trying to keep track of each individual PC with all of its changing applications and versions, IT only needs to manage the central image. When a new update or application becomes available, they can test it and upgrade all users simultaneously by updating this central image.

It is also useful for backup and disaster recovery. Again, if a particular computer hardware component fails, no data will be lost since the application data is all stored in the virtualized desktop environment. A new PC can be inserted and the user can login and continue working without any interruption or loss of data.

Now, back to Win2PDF: How does Win2PDF fit into this type of VDI environment? Basically, it works the same as in the traditional individual PC environment. Each virtual desktop will require a license of our standard Win2PDF or Win2PDF Pro software.  For large organizations, we provide volume license pricing and a volume license installer to facilitate the deployment, so it is still easy to manage many licenses.

VDI may not be for everyone, but we’ve seen a definite interest in this technology, especially with our larger enterprise customers.  If you have any specific questions about your own deployment of Win2PDF in this type of environment, let us know.

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.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered – Digital Signatures vs. Electronic Signatures

We frequently get questions about our product (Win2PDF) and its support of digital signatures.  While we have investigated adding this as a feature, there are many variations in implementation and some general misunderstandings of what “digital signatures” really are that makes it difficult to provide a universal solution to this problem.

Generally, when people speak of ‘signing a document’ they mean to apply some form of electronic signature to the PDF, and this can be done either simply (typically called an electronic signature), or in a way that is more advanced (typically called a digital signature).  A brief explanation of both:

  • An electronic signature is a general method of signing an electronic document, and it typically works by associating a marker (such as a .JPG representation of a person’s hand-written signature) to a PDF file. An electronic signature is easy to implement, but also offers fewer protections and can be easier to forge.
  • digital signature is a more sophisticated implementation of electronic signatures that associates an encrypted “fingerprint” on a PDF file. This “fingerprint” is unique to both the document and the signer and ensures the authenticity of the signer. If the PDF is changed after it is signed, it invalidates the signature.  Generally, it is a more secure method of protecting the integrity of a signed PDF file.

If you’re interested, more details can be found at this FAQ about digital signatures.

There are several different approaches to signing PDF files, and different organizations may require different levels of sophistication in their files.  A legal document sent by a lawyer, for example, may have a more stringent requirement for authentication than, say, a document that just needs an ‘sign-off’ by a manager for a particular internal process.

So, which version will you need?  That will require some more investigation on the type of solution that best fits your business needs.  One interesting recent development is that the latest version of Adobe Reader has announced some native support for “electronic signatures”.  While this isn’t an advanced digital signature solution it may suffice for many users.  And because the basic signing capability is included with Adobe Reader the implementation is easy.

Adobe acquired Echosign (a company specializing in signature technology) in July of 2011, and earlier this month they announced that the native Echosign functionality was included in the latest Adobe Reader application.  This integration will allow users to electronically sign any document in Adobe Reader (with a new “Sign” button) and then send the document out for others to sign through the Echosign web site.  Here’s a screen shot of the new Adobe Reader interface.

Adobe digital signature screen shot
Adobe Digital Signature

There are some free capabilities for a single user, but to effectively use this electronic signature capability within an organization requires a subscription to Echosign.

This is an interesting development for many users, but it still may not be the right solution for all companies.  Other companies offering digital signature solutions include IdentrustAppligent, Arx, and DocuSign.

Back to the discussion of incorporating the digital signature feature into Win2PDF?  Well, because of the variety of solutions available, and the different requirements for different organizations, we’ve found it best to provide a method to integrate with other solutions instead of trying to create a solution that will fit every user’s needs.  We do this by providing a mechanism to a launch an external application after creating the PDF file with Win2PDF.

Actually, if you are interested in this Win2PDF mechanism, send an e-mail to [email protected] and ask for more details.  We have a Win2PDF Admin Utility that can make this a little easier, but we don’t have it fully documented…  yet.

Signing off…