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Power up your PDFs with these five free tools

Mark O'Neill | July 11, 2013
There's no point to drowning in PDF features you don't want (and really, really don't want to pay for) when you can stock your toolbox with exactly what you require. These five freebies push the boundaries of what you can do with a PDF file.

There's no point to drowning in PDF features you don't want (and really, really don't want to pay for) when you can stock your toolbox with exactly what you require. These five freebies push the boundaries of what you can do with a PDF file.

Whether you long to edit, watermark, or otherwise tweak your PDF; add a Creative Commons license, or just cut your PDF down to size, one of these can make your PDFs what you want them to be...for free.

Briss
This portable app's website says "Bright Snippet Sire," but everybody calls it Briss. An open-source favorite, Briss crops a section of a PDF file and creates another PDF file of the cropped area. It's easy to use, and it's awfully handy.

E-bookworms with e-readers have a particular need for Briss. To read a PDF on an e-reader, you normally have to format and convert it, and traditional ebook converters (such as ePub converters) frequently make a hash of PDF conversion. Briss converts two-column pages into single-column pages, cuts out the unnecessary margins, and automatically removes unwanted fluff, such as page numbers and chapter headings. You can successfully pass the resulting clean PDF through an ePub converter.

CC PDF Converter
With Creative Commons licenses, you can distribute your creative work for free and specify the conditions under which it can be used. For example, you can offer your work free for use, provided you receive attribution. Or you can say that it's fine for personal or nonprofit projects to use your work, but that commercial ventures have to pay you. Attaching one of these licenses to the work removes any ambiguity or doubt as to the terms and conditions under which you share your work.

CC PDF Converter converts your Word document, Excel file, or Internet Explorer HTML file into a PDF doc...but it's no ordinary PDF. This free, open-source beta program asks you a series of questions about the type of license you want, then stamps a small but legible Creative Commons license on the pages.

jPDF Tweak
Open-source developer Michael Schierl describes his jPDF Tweak as the "Swiss Army Knife for PDF Files," and it certainly lives up to that promise. With it, you can add watermarks, change the metadata, combine PDF files, encrypt files, make printable booklets, rotate pages, and more. I love this program so much that it has a permanent place on my PC (and there are Linux editions, too).

This Java-based portable app makes a nice addition to the road warrior's USB drive or Dropbox folder. Simply double-click the BAT file to run it. Then load the PDF file from your PC in the "input tab" and choose the next tab you need. When you've made changes, go to the "output" tab to generate your tweaked PDF.

 

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