ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Creating PDFs (K2 #16)

Question of the Week
How to convert my document to PDF?
-- Sangay Phurpa, Bank of Bhutan, Haa

First, a short introduction to PDF, for the uninitiated: PDF is an extremely popular computer file format used to display and print documents. One of the advantages of PDF is that the document looks the same on the computer monitor and when printed. Displaying and printing a PDF file can be done using a PDF viewer. The most popular PDF viewer is Adobe Reader, which you can download from

People often convert documents into a PDF file before sharing them with others. Since PDF is so popular, it can be read on almost any computer or smartphone. For example, let's say you have a Microsoft Word document and you want to send it to a friend, but she doesn't have Word installed on her computer. Or perhaps she wants to read it on her smartphone, which doesn't have Microsoft Office. In both cases, a PDF file would solve the problem. Also, this would make sure that she views the document in exactly the same way you intended. This is unlike a Word document, where your friend might change the fonts, page size, or even the content of your document. PDF is useful when you want to prevent recipients from altering your document.

Now back to the question: How to convert a document to PDF? Let's look at three solutions, starting with the easiest. If you happen to use Microsoft Office 2010, it already includes a built-in converter to PDF. After opening a file in any of the Office applications (Word, Excel, or PowerPoint), you can convert it to PDF by selecting File, Save As, and then select PDF in the "Save as type" drop-down menu. Finally click Save. The application will then create a PDF version of the document.

Office 2007 users don't have a built-in PDF converter, but luckily Microsoft offers an Office add-in which will add a Save as PDF option to the Office applications. You can download this free add-in at

Most other software applications (including the Office 2003 suite) don't have a Save as PDF option. Do not despair. An incredible piece of software will come to the rescue. This software is called CutePDF Writer - and it is definitely cute! Once installed (just follow the instructions at, a new "printer" called CutePDF Writer will be added to your computer. This new printer will appear in the list of printers when you select "Print..." in any Windows application, but it's not a real printer! To convert any file you have open on your computer, print it selecting CutePDF as your printer, and your document will be magically saved as a PDF file. Mission accomplished.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

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