When you don't really need to print, PDF instead

Share on Nextdoor

I have a habit of doing a lot of shopping online. There's better selection, better prices, and with the convenience of tracking your credit card charges online- the only issue I'm usually concerned with is a slip-up between placing my order and receiving it. Most places will email you within a few minutes and include your receipt or confirmation, but not always. And when it comes time to pay my credit card bill or some other recurring charge (I pay online, of course), there's the confirmation number that pops up after you click "Accept." I've only been stung once or twice over the years by not printing those confirmation numbers, so my attitude toward assuring I have that number somewhere has turned a little more precautionary.

There's been a big push in the recent past for "going paperless," so it seems counterintuitive, as well as obviously wasteful, to print out every receipt and confirmation as these websites suggest. I'm also a little lazy and don't like turning on the printer for something I probably won't need (it's usually off, no need to waste energy doing all this non-printing!). My boyfriend suggested I use CutePDF to replace non-essential printing, and I've been very satisfied with it. It's FREE, and once it's installed, it is incredibly simple to use.

On the website I linked, you can download the installer and an additional piece of software CutePDF needs to run, a converter. Both are found along the left side of the page, but I think if you just download the installer, during the install process it will prompt you to download the converter at that time automatically. Once installed, you won't even notice it's there until you go to print something. When the Print window pops up, you'll be able to select CutePDF from the drop-down box of printers available to you. You select it there, and then hit OK. CutePDF works its magic here, and a moment later a Save window appears. Select where you want to save it, what you want to call it, and hit OK again. Congratulations, you just saved some paper! Unfortunately this is a Windows-only application, but it wouldn't surprise me if other operating systems already had this functionality built in.

You might be thinking that those few pages you'll save from the printer aren't a big deal, but if you're shopping and paying bills online, you're probably pretty comfortable with using your computer and the internet effectively. So I ask that you consider your parents or your grandparents and think about how much paper they use. If a website tells them to print something for their records, they likely will since they are used to keeping paper records of their transactions. If you can get them to "print" PDFs at least some of the time, that will help save more paper, too. If the paper-saving angle isn't enough to convince them, tell them they won't have to buy expensive ink as often. Everyone can see the benefit of saving some money these days, and saving the paper doesn't hurt, either!

If you're like me and use the internet for pretty much everything you can, you'll find this application to be very satisfying! For all those online payment confirmations and web store receipts asking you to "print this page for your records," you can ease your green conscience. CutePDF will let you hit "print" without queueing up another piece of paper to be tossed into the recycling bin two days later!

Scroll to read more Florida News articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.