By Deane Barker on August 19, 2004

Convert PDF, HTML, DOC, TIFF and more: So, your office needs to produce simple PDFs, but you don’t want to pay $450 for a retail copy of Acrobat? First, of all, don’t pay it because their are a number of alternatives like RoboPDF that are so much cheaper. They don’t have all the options for PDF manipulation, workflow, and forms like Acrobat does, but not many people use that stuff anyway.

You could also go to PDF995 and get a PDF printer driver for free if you want to put up with some ads, and $9.95 if you don’t.

Or, you could do this that would handle everyone in your office.

OmniFormat is a free document conversion utility which allows dynamic conversion and image manipulation of over 75 file formats including HTML, DOC, XLS, WPD, PDF, JPG, GIF, TIF, PNG, PCX, PPT, PS, TXT, Photo CD, FAX and MPEG.

OmniFormat will watch a folder, convert whatever is in there to PDF, delete it, and deposit the result in an output folder.

So, if you share the folders, anyone in your office can drag a Word document (or any of dozens of formats) into that folder, wait until it disappears, then go pick up their PDF in the output folder. We tried it here and it worked beautifully — everyone in the office could just drag files into this folder, then pick up the result.

The biggest benefit? Not having to support Acrobat on multiple machines. I’ve never had a software title break as much, or had one where the only viable option for fixing it was to uninstall and reinstall. I do this to a copy at least once a week. I hate that program.

Sadly, they don’t support Microsoft Publisher, which we use a lot, so this little trick is of limited value to us (ugh — I still have to support Acrobat…). Still, a great option for a lot of people.

And as long as you’re checking this out, take a look at everything the guys at Software 995 have written. It’s all $9.95 or you can get a bundle of 10 titles for $29.95. Some great stuff over there and I’ve never had a technical problem with any of it.

Finally, while OmniFormat is nifty, if you want seriously powerful batch PDF processing, you’d be hard-pressed to beat PDFMoto since that supports directory trees (and doesn’t delete the source file) and will even generate an XML manifest with which you can building HTML menus to catalog your PDF document library.



  1. Many of the Software995 titles are actually just GPL’d software (which they acknowledge and in fact link to the soruce). Some of it seems to be made mostly by them though (such as the PDF stuff) because I didn’t see any notices about GPL stuff. It looks like you’re mostly paying for support (and $9.95 for 24hour support doesn’t seem like a bad deal if you don’t want to google for answers too much).

  2. I am in need of simply converting an HTM, HTML Doc to a .jpg file format so I can post it on the web as needed.

    In my searching, I found OmniFormat, that looked like just the program I needed to do this…WELL I FOUND THIS PAGE BECAUSE OF MY DESPERATE google SEARCHING THE INTERNET (5 HOURS LATER) TO FIND HELP TO GET THIS THING TO WORK! I’ve been using PC’s 25 years, do ALL my own Tech Support, reformatting, partitioning Hd’s, etc, reloading XP, etc, reloading Programs, etc, so I’m not a novice, so that can be laid to rest.

    I can’t do this simple conversion and I figure if I can’t get a program to work (when many of the Techies in the industry I ask for help know less than I do) I am not going to pay a penny for support. (plus this is not something I will use daily).

    Any suggestions?

  3. You want SnagIt, by TechSmith.

    It’s $40, but it will screencap a scrolling window, so you can capture an image of a huge Web page in one shot. One of the best programs I’ve ever used.

    If you want to just print to an image file, try this:

    But understand that this will be in print format — however the print driver decides to imtepret the page, plus prink quirks like no backgrounds, the silly headers and footers, etc.

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