CONVERTING PDFS

A reader asked us to find a free program to convert a “PDF” (portable document format) into a Microsoft Word document. We like Nitro PDF.

Most people use Adobe Reader to open PDFs, which are documents that retain their original look (all the formatting and illustrations) no matter what program they were created with. To convert a PDF back into a Word document is usually done with a costly program like Adobe Acrobat. But we’ve had no problem with the free PDFtoWord.com, made by Nitro PDF.

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WORD TIPS

Microsoft Word has lots of keyboard short cuts and here are some of the more useful:

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BALANCING YOUR CHECKBOOK ON THE COMPUTER

A reader told us his disability is making it tough to balance his checkbook with pen and paper, and he is unhappy with software like Quicken. Here’s an easy way to do it using a free program.

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READ ‘EM AND WEEP

The refined grist of hundreds of conversations has taught us that everybody wants to be a writer. Now they can. You and you and your Uncle Max can publish their fiction and non-fiction on WattPad, an online site. It also has hundreds of free classics, such as “Jane Eyre,” “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” The web site, Wattpad.com, draws15 million readers a month. And posts more than 1.5 million new stories. Some are from best-selling writers, like Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” But most seem to be from teenagers, who display an inordinate interest in sex. Who knew? Random example: “I’m the SuperModel in a BoysBoarding School.” Not only are these […]

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THE PERFECT WORD

The latest version of WordPerfect is $99 at Walmart, a big reason why people take it instead of Microsoft Office, which is $220 for the Home edition or $99 a year for Office 365. But there are other good reasons why you might prefer WordPerfect. Lawyers like WordPerfect because of its legal tools, such as redaction, “Bates” numbering, document comparisons and legal templates. Writers like it because it makes it easy to publish your book to the Kindle; the new “X7” version handles other e-Readers as well. If you choose “eBook Publisher” from X7’s “Project” menu, WordPerfect prepares your manuscript for electronic publishing to the Kindle, Nook or Sony e-Reader, saving many steps.

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GETTING A NEW WINDOWS 8 COMPUTER

Just when we thought we’d heard every complaint about Windows 8 computers, we heard a new one. A friend wondered where in the world she should save her files, because now she sees two choices: “Skydrive,” and “This PC.”

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NOTES AND NOTS

Cyberlink’s “YouNote,” a new free app at the Windows  app store, is fun and even useful. It’s a virtual notebook for collecting notes and pictures and putting them in pockets of interest. We found it fun to collect notes this way under different topics, like recipe books, travel, sports, etc. Add the pictures, cartoons and scribbles and some of our notes are cute enough to use as scrapbook pages or greeting cards. The program works with regular or touch screen PCs using Windows 8. But, alas, all is not yet perfect in this infinitely perfectible universe: There are other ways to skin Schrodinger’s cat. YouNote is missing some key features found in the older and massively popular Evernote, a free […]

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BEST PDF EDITOR

The whole point of saving a document as a PDF (portable document format) is to preserve its formatting. Anyone can open it with a free program like Adobe Reader and it will look exactly the same as the original that was sent. But if you want to make changes, you have to convert it to a form that can be edited.

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EDITING A PDF

Documents in “PDF” format normally can’t be edited. The whole point of the format is to save a file – be it a letter or a magazine – as it originally looked. But sometimes the PDF is a long boring document and you only want a couple of pages.

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LIGHT AND TIGHT

There are several free alternatives to Microsoft Word, but the simplest of all is already included in your Windows computer, no matter what version you have.

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