Software: Working with PDFs and Windows

Keith White
24 December, 2010
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Keith White takes a look at some handy new software for PDF creation and running Windows on your Mac.

PDFpen/PDFpen Pro

($63.80; Pro upgrade $42.57)

What is it? A PDF creation and editing tool. Available in standard and Pro versions

Who is it for? Frequent users of PDF documents. Also useful for collaborative document and web design

How does it work? You can create a PDF file from scratch, from a Pages or Word PDF export, or from a website. In thumbnail view you can rearrange, insert or delete pages.

To edit text, make your selection and then use the Correct Text tool to insert, delete, amend. PDFpen will attempt to match the font in the original, although with varying degrees of success. You can also highlight or strikethrough selected text. New text boxes can be created and positioned exactly where you want them.

In addition to the usual find-and-replace of the Search function you have a Redact option which erases or obscures confidential or embargoed items.

Images can be added, deleted, resized and cropped. Standard imaging tools allow adjustments to brightness, contrast, colour and sharpness. To sign a document simply scan your signature and drag it into place.

You can create PDFs directly from scanned documents on which PDFpen first performs OCR to render the text editable. Skewed pages can be straightened.

Amended documents can be uploaded to the Evernote cloud for storage or collaborative tasks, and a range of markup tools includes a useful library of proofreading symbols which are simply dragged into place.

The Pro version enables you to build detailed interactive TOCs, to create interactive PDF forms and to create multipage PDFs from websites. I converted the AMW site (94 pages) in around two minutes.

The wrap. PDFpen/Pro offers a wide range of features for PDF creation and manipulation at an affordable price. Version 5 requires OS 10.6. Earlier versions are available, compatible back to OS 10.2.5 An e-book Take Control of PDFpen5 is available.

Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac

($109; upgrade $69)

What is it? The latest version of the popular virtualisation software which provides the ability to run Windows, Linux and other systems concurrently with the Mac OS. Apple’s Boot Camp included with OS 10.5/6 can only run one system at a time

Who is it for? Primarily people who need to run Windows software on their Mac, obviating the need to have a separate PC. I use Parallels to check that files created on my Mac look right and run properly on Windows. And also to run Windows software without a Mac equivalent.

How does it work? I was upgrading from v. 4 which took very little time. Activate, register and I’m away. For those installing for the first time, Parallels creates virtual machines on your Mac to run almost any variety of Windows or Linux you may have. Parallels Transporter is included, which enables you to create virtual machines from other computers, Boot Camp partitions or other virtual machines.

All your Mac files are visible on the Windows desktop and can be opened by available Windows software or by Mac software if there is no equivalent – such as Pages. It’s all beautifully seamless.

Parallels 6 boasts a raft of new and improved features. I found speed increases particularly noticeable in booting and operating in Windows XP. Graphics are enhanced, 64-bit systems are accommodated and there are big improvements for gamers in 3D graphics and 5.1 Surround Sound support.

For mobile folk there’s an iPhone/iPad app for remote access to your Windows applications. You can even launch Windows applications via Spotlight on your Mac.

The wrap. Parallels was good, but is now better. Mature, stable software now runs faster and is even better integrated with the Mac side. The $149 Switch to Mac Edition has extras to simplify PC-to-Mac transfer.

This article originally appeared in the December issue of Australian Macworld magazine.

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