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Chapter 4. Creating PDFs > Using Distiller

Using Distiller

You must use Acrobat Distiller to change PostScript and Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) files into PDF documents.

To start Acrobat Distiller:

Double-click the Acrobat Distiller 5.0 icon on your desktop to launch Distiller (Figure 4.3).

Figure 4.3. Double-click the Acrobat Distiller icon.


If Acrobat is running, choose Distiller from the Tools menu.

The Acrobat Distiller window appears.

From the Job Options pull-down menu, choose eBook, Press, Print, or Screen, depending on where the PDF will be viewed (Figure 4.4).

Figure 4.4. Choose a job option from the pop-up menu.

The choices in the Job Options menu let you pick a balance between file size and text/graphic resolution that's just right for your needs. See the Acrobat documentation for details on the parameters for each setting.

  • Choose the Press option if your PDF will be printed on a high-resolution imagesetter. This option produces the highest quality but enormous file sizes.

  • Choosing Print produces a distilled file with text and graphics at medium resolution, suitable for printing on desktop printers. The file size will be moderate.

  • The eBook setting produces a relatively small file while maintaining graphics at a moderate resolution so they can be viewed at a range of screen magnifications.

  • Choose the Screen option if the file will be viewed only on a computer screen (as part of a Web site, for example). This setting produces the smallest files but sacrifices quality.

    The main Acrobat Distiller window remains in the center of your screen (Figure 4.5).

    Figure 4.5. The Acrobat Distiller window.


  • When Distiller creates a PDF file from a PostScript file, it also creates a log of the action. You can use the log file to view the files that were distilled to identify any problems Distiller had in creating the PDF document. If you do find problems in the log, you can correct the error and try distilling again.

To distill a PostScript file into a PDF file:

Choose Open from the File menu (Ctrl+O/Command-O) to display the Open dialog box (Figure 4.6).

Figure 4.6. Choose Open from the File menu.

Navigate to the PostScript file you want to distill and then click the Open button (Figure 4.7).

Figure 4.7. Select the file to distill.

The Save dialog box appears (Figure 4.8).

Figure 4.8. Name the file you want to distill and choose a location to store it.

Type the file name in the Save As text box and then click the Save button.

The Acrobat Distiller window shows the progress of the distillation (Figure 4.9).

Figure 4.9. The progress bar shows you how the distillation is going.

When the process is finished, you can close the window or choose Quit from the File menu (Ctrl+Q/Command-Q) to exit Distiller.


  • You'll notice that as a PostScript file is being distilled, notes show up at the bottom of the Acrobat Distiller window below the Progress bar. These notes include the name of the file, when the distilling process started, the location of the original PostScript file, the destination folder or directory of the new PDF file, and font substitutions (if any).

  • You can distill any PostScript file quickly by dragging its icon on top of the Acrobat Distiller icon. The PDF file is named with the .pdf extension automatically and saved in the same folder or directory as the original PostScript file.

To change Distiller preferences:

Choose Preferences from the File menu (Ctrl+K/Command-K) (Figure 4.10).

Figure 4.10. Choose Preferences from the File menu.

The Preferences dialog box appears (Figure 4.11).

Figure 4.11. The Distiller Preferences dialog box for Mac (top) and Windows.

To turn each option on or off, click the appropriate check box.

Some of the options are available only in a single platform:

  • Notify When Startup Volume Is Nearly Full lets you know when not much space is left on the startup volume. Distiller uses the startup volume as virtual memory while it creates PDF files.

  • Notify When Watched Folders Are Unavailable says that a dialog box will pop up to let you know if a “watched” folder is not available. Unless Distiller is being run on a server, keeping this option checked is a good idea. (Watched folders are discussed later in this chapter.)

  • Delete Log Files for Successful Jobs means that Distiller will remove the log file for jobs that were distilled with no errors.

  • Restart Distiller After PostScript Fatal Error lets Distiller restart automatically if it reads code within a PostScript file that interrupts the distilling process. It's best to enable this option if Distiller is being run from an unmanned server (Mac OS only; in Windows, the program asks you whether to restart).

  • Ask for PDF File Destination tells Distiller to prompt you for the location where it should save the PDF file (Windows only).

  • Ask to Replace Existing PDF File makes Distiller ask you for permission before overwriting a file with the same name (Windows only).

  • View PDF When Using Distiller causes the newly created PDF to be displayed as soon as Distiller finishes its job (Windows only).

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