Methods of Exporting PDF compared

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[edit] Why are PDFs created by NeoOffice's "Export as PDF…" feature lower-quality than those created by Mac OS X's "Save as PDF…" (in the Print dialog box)?

The Export Directly as PDF toolbar button creates a PDF file using the quality and compression settings in the PDF Options dialogue, which is not displayed when using the toolbar button. If you have not changed these settings, the default is Screen optimized, which uses a resolution of 72 DPI.

In comparison, the native Mac OS X PDF export (using the Print dialogue) has a default resolution of 300 DPI.

While the difference in file size may be trivial for many text documents, the difference in the size of the resulting PDF is huge when there are images in the source document. In general terms, the Export Directly as PDF button is used to quickly export PDF files that are small enough to be mailed, whereas the files created using the native Print dialog are designed to print at a consistently high quality.

Experience in "real-life" suggests that, with few exceptions, NeoOffice's "Print optimized" quality generally offers the best compromise between print quality and file size, often producing smaller file sizes than Mac OS X's native Print dialogue while producing comparable print quality from most office printers. (In order to select this option, you must first follow the steps below.)

Both the built-in Export as PDF… function and the native Mac OS X Save as PDF… function offer ways of adjusting the size and quality of the final PDF, however.

[edit] "Export as PDF…" menu item and "Export Directly as PDF" toolbar button

As noted above, the "Export Directly as PDF" toolbar button uses current settings in the PDF Options dialogue when it creates a PDF (much as the Print toolbar button uses the current Print Options settings when printing and does not display that extra dialogue durring the printing process). The PDF Options dialogue is accessed through the "Export as PDF…" item in the file menu. By selecting this item, you will be able to specify one of three compression or quality settings, as well as the print range, for your resulting PDF. (Counter-intuitively, the PDF Options dialogue only appears after the Export dialogue in which you provide the name and location for saving the resulting PDF.)

In the PDF Options dialogue, you can select from Screen optimized (smallest file size), Print optimized, and Press optimized, with the latter giving both the highest quality PDF and the largest file size of the three settings. Any future use of the "Export Directly as PDF" toolbar button will use the settings you have selected after exporting the current PDF.

[edit] "Save as PDF…" button in the Print dialogue

To access the file-size and compression options of the Mac OS X PDF generator, select ColorSync from the third drop-down box in the Print dialogue. This will in turn present two other drop-down boxes; the bottom one, labeled "Quartz Filter:" allows access to the desired features. There is a built-in "Reduce File Size" filter, but you can adjust the settings, or add a new filter, by selecting the "Add Filters…" option (this will launch ColorSync Utility after most of the printing process is complete, so launching ColorSync Utility from /Applications/Utilities first and setting up your filters is often a better idea.)

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