How do I create and distribute Secure Documents without Adobe Distiller and PDF?

You want to make a secure document that your recipient can't change, and everyone tells you that making a PDF file is the way to go. However, creating Adobe PDF files isn't always that easy and PDF files can be a big hassle for your recipient.

Here are some reasons why PDF files are not the best choice for your short quotes, contracts, and multi-page documents: Some people have computers that are so old that they can't run the Adobe Reader software that is required to open the PDF files. Some of your recipients have mail filters prevent PDF files from being delivered, at all. On slower computers, Adobe's PDF Reader software takes forever to load and it constantly bugs users to update at the Adobe website. I'm sure I can't be the only one who hates large Adobe PDF files cluttering my e-mail inbox!

PDF is an acronym for “Portable Document Format” and it is a proprietary format developed by the Adobe Corporation. Don't get me wrong; PDF is a great solution if your document has a lot of pages, needs a linked index, needs to be searchable, or needs to clickable Web links. I've written and published a couple of ebooks using Adobe's PDF format precisely for those reasons.

However, if you're simply sending a secure quote or a contract, a TIF file is a better choice, and here's why:

TIF files are just as secure as PDF files. Just like PDF files, your recipient sees your document exactly as you designed it, with your precise layout, fonts and color graphics. Like PDF files, the recipient can print a secure TIF document but your recipient can't change the content of the TIF document that you send them.

TIF documents are HALF the size of PDF documents, so e-mail with TIF documents attached are usually delivered more quickly and are more likely to be delivered successfully than PDF files. Your mail recipients won't need the Adobe Reader or special software since TIF files are automatically displayed in the “Windows Picture and Fax Viewer,” which is part of the Win

dows XP operating system. Your mail recipients will appreciate that they won't need the clumsy, slow, Adobe Reader program, anymore.

TIF (or TIFF) is the most widely supported graphic file format in the world and is compatible Mac, Unix, and Windows and more other computer platforms than Adobe's PDF. It's primarily because of Adobe's powerful marketing efforts that most people continue to use Adobe's proprietary PDF format when the public domain TIF, which is *already* built-in to Windows, is usually better choice for creating small, secure, documents.

Okay, so I've convinced you that the TIF format is better for your and your mail recipients than PDF. But how do you create a TIF document? Making a TIF file is usually easier than making PDF files, the software is free, and it is sometimes already installed on your Windows XP computer.

1) In Windows XP, click the “Start” button, then click “Control Panel”
2) Click “Add or Remove Programs”
3) Click the “Add/Remove Windows Components” button. It's sometimes displayed in the left column.
4) Make sure the “Fax Services” checkbox is enabled, then click the “next” button to complete Windows Fax Services installation.

That's it! Now here's the secret: the TIF file format has been used for more than 20 years for fax files. So, when you install the free Microsoft Fax services program in Windows, you can easily make a secure TIF (fax) document file from ANYTHING you print in Windows.

Note: You may need your Windows Install CD to complete these steps.
1) Select “Print” from *any* Windows application.
2) Select “Fax” as your printer.
3) Enable the “Print to File” checkbox.
4) Click the “Ok” button, then name your output file with the extension, “.TIF”
5) You're done! Attach your .TIF file to your outgoing mail for a free, easy, fast, secure alternative to PDF files.

Wouldn't it be great if you could send this same secure document from your e-mail to your recipient's fax machine? I'll tell you about e-mail-to-fax in an upcoming article.