AdobePDF Print Driver vs 1-button PDF Creators: Which to use?

You’re in Microsoft Word. You can create an Adobe PDF file using either the:

  1. AdobePDF Print Driver
  2. 1-button PDF Creators installed by Acrobat in Word’s toolbar

Which should you choose and what is the difference?

Two Ways to Make PDFs

In the early days of Acrobat, the only way to create a PDF was to “print” to the Adobe print driver. This captured the print output of any program and created a PDF.

You can still do this today. Simply go to the Print Menu and select the AdobePDF print driver from any application:


Beginning with Acrobat 6 and extended in Acrobat 7, however, Adobe offers add-ins to popular applications to make creating PDF easier:

Acrobat Standard
Acrobat Pro
Microsoft Word Microsoft Word
Microsoft Excel Microsoft Excel
Microsoft PowerPoint Microsoft PowerPoint
Microsoft Outlook Microsoft Outlook
Microsoft Internet Explorer Microsoft Project
Microsoft Visio
AutoDesk AutoCad

For example, the add-ins to Microsoft Word look like this:


The official name of the Adobe add-in to Office is “1-button PDF Creator”, so we’ll refer to it that way.

More than a button’s difference . . .

The 1-button PDF Creators do more than automate selecting the AdobePDF print driver for you.

Using the 1-button PDF creators allow the user to create more robust, more useful PDFs:

Office Add-in
AdobePDF Print Driver
Create a PDF
Control PDF Version
Add Security
Tagged PDF for Accessibility
Create PDF Bookmarks
Convert Hyperlinks
Convert TOC to PDF Links
Convert Cross References and Footnotes to Links

You can control the Office add-ins by choosing Change Conversion Settings from the Adobe PDF menu in each of the applicaitons.


Bookmarks, links and so on make the PDF easier to navigate for the user. I covered tagging and accessibility in a previous article.

Looking at the PDF Conversion Settings in Word

You may wish to change the PDF Conversion Settings in Word to better suit your workflow. Below are a few tips and techniques that I reccomend for my legal customers.

To change PDF Conversion Settings for all future work sessions in Word, make changes without a document open, then quit Word.

Recommended Settings

1) Deselect Convert Document Information.
As mentioned in my article on Metadata, virtually the only metadata passed through from Word to PDF is the information in the Title, Subject, Author and Keyword fields. By deseleting this option, only the document title is passed through.


2) Security Tab
If you’d like to ensure that every PDF you create is encrypted, you can set that in this tab. Some firms set usage restrictions on every PDF sent outside the firewall.

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