You never know when you may need to create a PDF on the fly. After all, some documents are better sent as PDF than in their native format. Adobe CreatePDF, an iOS app for $9.99 (USD), enables you to create a PDF using your iPhone using Adobe’s Online CreatePDF service (which is part of their online service). Adobe CreatePDF, while strictly a creation tool, lets you create a fully compatible PDF file of a document.

I use CreatePDF on my iPhone when I want to create a PDF of an email attachment or from a file in my Dropbox account when I’m away from my home office. It’s a tool of convenience for me, since there are times when I might be away from my home office PC until the evening hours.

Create a PDF using Adobe CreatePDF

Adobe provides a simple and easy to use interface in CreatePDF for creating PDFs on your iPhone. You do have to be online via Wi-Fi or 3G because the PDF conversion actually takes place in the cloud, not on your iPhone itself. It supports all the popular file formats, including:

  • Microsoft Word (*.docx, *.doc)
  • Excel (*.xlsx, *.xls)
  • PowerPoint (*.pptx, *.ppt)
  • Rich Text Format (*.rtf)
  • Text (*.txt)
  • InDesign (*.indd)
  • Adobe Illustrator (*.ai)
  • Photoshop (*.psd)

There is a 100 MB file size limit on the PDFs you create with Adobe CreatePDF, but there isn’t a limit on the number of files you can convert to PDF. Additionally, you don’t have to purchase a subscription to the Adobe CreatePDF online service to make the app work.

Here’s how to create a PDF using Adobe CreatePDF:

  1. Select the file you want to convert into a PDF (it can be an email attachment or a file residing in Dropbox or other cloud storage service)
  2. Tap the file, which will open in its native application
  3. Tap Open In… and the screen will appear similar to Figure A
  4. Figure A

    CreatePDF appears on the list of applications in the Open In… list.
  5. Select CreatePDF, and the file you’re converting will appear in the CreatePDF file list, where you can see the conversion process in progress (shown in Figure B)
  6. Figure B

    You can watch the progress of the PDF conversion from the file list.
  7. Tap the file to open it, and you’ll now have a fully functioning PDF version of your document without having to open Adobe Acrobat on a PC

The Adobe CreatePDF online service doesn’t have the options you get with a full version of Adobe Acrobat or third-party PDF creation tools like Nitro Pro 7. While you cannot add interactivity or other advanced features to the PDFs you generate, Adobe CreatePDF does automatically preserve the formatting of the original Microsoft Office documents, including:

  • Links
  • End Notes
  • Foot Notes
  • Bookmarks
  • Transitions and multimedia content in PowerPoint presentations

Manage PDFs in CreatePDF

CreatePDF includes a simple file list — there’s no facility for folders or tagging — but then again, CreatePDF should be nothing more than a waypoint for your PDFs. There isn’t a lot of file management to perform within CreatePDF, except for keeping the file list down to just what you need and trying to avoid duplicate PDFs amongst CreatePDF and your other iPhone apps.

Send a file from CreatePDF

It does hardly any good to create a PDF on your iPhone if you don’t have a way to send it to other team members or even back to your PC.

There are three options for getting a PDF out of CreatePDF:

  • Email: Tap the Email button. Select the PDF(s) you want to email. Tap Email again, and the PDF(s) appear as attachments in a blank email that’s ready for you to send.
  • Print: Tap Print and follow the prompts if you have access to an AirPrint compatible printer.
  • Open In… If there are any shortcomings in this app, it’s in the Sharing options. If you have the Adobe Reader for iOS on your iPhone, it appears as a separate option besides the usual Open In… options (see Figure C). I would like to see it have more integration options for services like Evernote, Dropbox, and other cloud storage services. However, I was happy to see Coaxion and SharePlus (an iOS client app for SharePoint) appear in my Open In… options.

Figure C

CreatePDF includes options for getting your newly created PDF into other apps.

A PDF on every iPhone?

For many personal and corporate iPhone users, their iPhones are more than just a phone — they’re a productivity tool as well. Adobe CreatePDF can be a useful app addition to an iPhone for users who may need to create a PDF while they’re on the go to send back to their office or to a customer. Do you use CreatePDF in your organization? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.