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Save any document as a PDF or image file with Free Image Printer

30 November 2012, Mike Williams

Virtual printers are a popular way to create PDFs, and with good reason. If a particular application doesn’t support exporting as PDF, that’s no longer a problem: just print it, send the job to your virtual PDF printer, and it’ll create the file for you – very convenient.

If you like this idea, though, you don’t have to limit yourself to saving PDFs. Free Image Printer also adds a virtual printer to your PC, but takes the next logical step of supporting more formats, allowing you to also save your print jobs as HTML, XLS/ XLSX, MHT, RTF, and a host of image types: JPEG, PNG, TIFF, GIF, BMP, WMF, EMF and more.

While this sounds great, the program earns itself a major black mark immediately by sneakily trying to install a couple of browser addons during the setup process. It doesn’t make this clear in the slightest – all you’ll see is an item “ & Complitly” on the “Select Additional Tasks” screen, checked by default – and if you do nothing about this then the addons will be installed. So if that’s not what you want, pay close attention during setup and make sure that box is cleared before you click Next.

Print a document from any application and it'll appear in the Free Image Printer viewer

With that out of the way, though, Free Image Printer proved straightforward and easy to use. Just open a file in your application of choice, click Print, choose the Free Image Printer driver, and within a second or two your document will appear in a simple multi-page viewer.

To save your document, all you then have to do is choose the relevant format from the Export To list, and fine-tune it by configuring whatever options are available. So if you choose PDF, say, you can decide whether you want to convert images to JPEG, and what their quality could be, as well as setting a password, applying other security restrictions, setting metadata and more.

If you want to email that document, though, you can alternatively click “Email As”, choose the same format and options, and your email client’s “New message” dialog will appear with the file already attached.

And you get a Print button, too, useful if you’d like a real printed copy of the document as well as an electronic version.

Free Image Printer won’t be for everyone, of course. The program doesn’t offer as much control over your finished PDF file as more specialist tools, for instance. And actually creating the file requires several more clicks. You’ll need to dismiss an ad for another one of the author’s programs, select the export type you need, and then choose the configuration options, each and every time (the program doesn’t save your preferences beyond the current session, so if you select Image output, say, PNG will be displayed as the default, even if you selected JPEG last time).

Still, the program’s wide file format support is a definite plus, and if your applications could benefit from a few more export options – and you can look out for, and forgive the initial browser addon sneakiness – then it’s definitely worth a try.

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