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The Vastly Underutilized Create PDF from Clipboard Feature

PDF from ClipboardThere are many ways to create PDF files using Acrobat, but one of the most useful might not be very well known to many Acrobat users.

I’m referring to Create PDF from Clipboard.

As the name suggests, Create PDF from Clipboard takes whatever is on your Clipboard and converts it to PDF. Amazingly, it works for just about anything you can put on the clipboard. I use this feature in Acrobat every day, sometimes several times a day.

How do I access Create PDF from Clipboard?

While it’s not hidden, you might not have run across it. The Create PDF from Clipboard feature works in both Acrobat Standard and Pro. Here’s how it works:

  1. Copy something to the clipboard
  2. In Acrobat, X, choose File > Create > PDF from Clipboard
    – or – Click the Create Button and choose PDF from Clipboard
    – or  (Windows only) type ALT-F-R-C

The instructions above are for Acrobat X, but the feature works substantially the same in Acrobat 9.

Acrobat converts the content on the clipboard to PDF and create a new, Untitled PDF document. Save the new document and you’re good to go.

How it Works and Limitations

  • Converting text on the clipboard generally preserves fonts and formatting, but not always. Results are typically like pasting text into a new word processing document and converting that to PDF. Text is laid out generically and the margins may be different.
  • If there isn’t anything on the clipboard, or if the content cannot be converted to PDF, this feature will be grayed out.
  • The content you want to convert must be in an application. You can’t, for example, select a JPEG file on your desktop and copy it to the clipboard. Acrobat won’t know what to do and the feature won’t be available.
  • Some applications don’t copy with the same quality. I noticed that while I can copy Visio objects to the clipboard, that the results are bit-mapped when converted via the clipboard to PDF.

Read on to learn about a few ways to use this feature and I’ll even tell you about a related and even more obscure way to create PDF.

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