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Microsoft add-ins and add-ons.

When asked by a Windows-user how they can convert their work to a PDF, i usually respond with two possible solutions – OpenOffice and PDFcreator. If they’re wanting to convert an MS Office document then they can open it in OpenOffice and use the built-in PDF-export feature to create a PDF. Alternatively, PDFcreator can be used from any program (that allows printing) since it appears as a printer and so allows you to “print out” PDF versions of your text, table, chart, image, etc.

I have, however, just discovered that Microsoft offer an “Add-in” for Office 2007 that eliminates the need any of the above  if it is just Office documents you’re interested in converting. It’s called “Microsoft Save As PDF or XPS” and, surprise surprise, it simply adds a “Save as PDF” option to the menu in Word, Excel, Powerpoint, et al. Click that and the job’s a good ‘un.

Of course, my original suggestions are valid if you don’t have MS Office 2007 (the add-in only appears to exist for that version) or you want to create PDFs from apps other than Office.

Finding this little tool reminded me of a few other “hidden” Microsoft add-ons and utilities i once discovered:

PowerToys for Windows XP – Loads of handy add-ons for XP, including slideshow generators, image resizer, calculator with unit conversion and access to extra interface settings.

Network Diagnostics for Windows XP – A tool for troubleshooting (home) network connectivity issues.

Microsoft USB Flash Drive Manager – Allows you to backup, manage and restore images of your USB flash/memory/thumb/pen drive(s).

Windows Memory Diagnostics – Create a bootable CD that’ll test your PC’s RAM for errors.

Windows XP Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel – Allows you to mount ISO images as drives on your computer, so no need to burn the ISO to CD to access it. (official MS download here)

Why these useful tools aren’t included in Windows to start with remains a mystery to me…