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Adobe Acrobat Toolbar Worse than Malware? 504

Phr3n3tik writes "Adobe Acrobat has long included a toolbar plugin to automate PDF Making from Office Products. Those who found the toolbar an eyesore, or just used it infrequently could always hide it from view. Not so in their new versions, (6, and 7 apparently.) Their new take on the PDFMaker toolbar is getting some users riled up, since it is harder to Move/Hide/Delete/Uninstall this new toolbar than many forms of malware!"
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Adobe Acrobat Toolbar Worse than Malware?

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  • Simple answer: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sheetrock ( 152993 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:40PM (#12027207) Homepage Journal
    Don't install it if you don't want it? I don't think you need to add the toolbar.
  • by Kimos ( 859729 )
    ... Between legit software and malware? You don't want the toolbar, it's hard to get rid of the toolbar, it's an eyesore that you never use and don't remember asking for. Sounds like 'XXX Teen Search Buddy' to me!
    • by m50d ( 797211 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:45PM (#12027265) Homepage Journal
      If it can't be uninstalled through the standard add/remove programs thing then it's malware. Plain and simple. The only reason not to let your users remove you is if you're deliberately doing something they don't want.
      • by mOoZik ( 698544 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:49PM (#12027320) Homepage
        I disagree. The only thing it's doing is making it difficult for the user to remove the toolbar, which is contrary to malware, whose sole purpose is to do some sort of *actual* harm, not simply perceived harm from one's inability to get rid of it. Maybe it's annoyware? ;)

        • by justforaday ( 560408 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:51PM (#12027354)
          Keep in mind that this isn't a "toolbar" along the lines of the Yahoo! toolbar or Google toolbar. This is one of the toolbars that only appears in Office apps. It provides three "Convert to PDF" buttons. It doesn't log anything. It doesn't track anything. It simply converts documents to PDF when you click it.
          • Frankly I think anything that doesn't provide an easy means of uninstalling should be considered malware. And even if you don't consider it malware for the fact it won't uninstall, it's a pain in the neck when you try to hide the toolbar and it reappears each time you start word, or it positions itself wherever the hell it likes.

            And another gripe with Acrobat is that it wants to leave a service running all the time. I might create a PDF once every three months. Why should I need a service running in the b

          • by Sgt_Jake ( 659140 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @07:22PM (#12029969) Journal
            It simply converts documents to PDF when you click it.

            Oh no no no... it does plenty of things.

            Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded -- with what caution -- with what foresight, with what dissimulation, I went to work! I was never kinder to the registry during the whole week before I killed it. And every night about midnight I turned on the back door and opened it oh, so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my edits, I put in a dark comment, commented so that no bits came out, and then I thrust in my command. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly, very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the backups. It took me an hour to place my whole script within the opening so far that I could see the library as it lay within its folder. Ha! Would a madman have been so wise as this? And then when my script was well in the folder I executed it cautiously -- oh, so cautiously -- cautiously (for the hard drive creaked), I launched it just so much that a single thin electron fell upon the vulture toolbar. And this I did for seven long nights, every night just at midnight, but I found the toolbar always closed, and so it was impossible to do the work, for it was not the toolbar that vexed me but this Evil Icon. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into my applications and spoke courageously to them, calling them by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how they had passed the night. So you see it would have been a very profound program, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon the toolbar while it slept.

            I had my head in, and was about to open the folder, when my pinky slipped upon the enter key, and the program sprang up in the toolbar, crying out, "MAKE PDF?" And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses? With a loud yell, I threw open the script and leaped into the registry. It err'd once -- once only. In an instant I dragged it to the trash, and emptied it quickly. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done.

            Yet, upon the next reopening, first and formost it mocks me. It was open, wide, wide open, and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness -- all a dull grey with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones, but I could see nothing else of document's font or margin, for I had directed my sight as if by instinct precisely upon the damned spot.

            I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury, but the toolbar remained. O God! what COULD I do? I foamed -- I raved -- I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and bounced upon my cube, but the toolbar arose over all applications and continually increased. It spawned over -- over -- over! And still the office chatted pleasantly , and smiled. Was it possible they saw not? Almighty God! -- no, no? Adobe saw! -- Adobe suspected! -- Adobe KNEW! -- they were making a mockery of my horror! -- this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical responses no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! -- and now -- again -- hark! louder! louder! louder! LOUDER! --

            "Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! -- tear up the registry! -- here, here! -- it is the beating of his hideous icon!"

            With profound apolgies to Poe, this is the truth of that toolbar.

        • Yes it is malware (Score:3, Informative)

          by emarkp ( 67813 )
          It was causing Word to crash on me on exit. I couldn't get rid of it. Finally I uninstalled Acrobat. And I won't go back.

          Of course I don't need it so much now that I've switched to OpenOffice anyway.

    • by dicepackage ( 526497 ) * <> on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:46PM (#12027290) Homepage
      But people use XXX Teen Search Buddy whereas they don't use the Acrobat toolbar.
  • Not just 6 and 7 (Score:5, Informative)

    by SdnSeraphim ( 679039 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:40PM (#12027212)
    I haven't used Acrobat 4 for quite a long time. However I cannot find a way to remove the PDF toolbar even after I have removed the software completely from my machine.
  • Versions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AzBats ( 666888 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:41PM (#12027213) Journal
    I'm trying to stick with 5 since it works and the other versions are getting too feature rich.
    • 7 is much faster then 6, and at least I didnt notice any toolsbars/ect after installing, but otoh, i dont click on every "l337 xtras here" checkboxs in setup programs.
    • 6 was/is garbage.

      5 was causing IE to crash every time I closed an IE window that had a PDF in it.

      I removed 5 at work and 6 at home, installed 7 in both locations, and have been much happier. It's far more responsive and seems to work better overall.

      Just make sure you do the Custom install so you don't get the junk you don't want.
  • Who cares? (Score:3, Informative)

    by bogie ( 31020 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:41PM (#12027215) Journal
    I mean geez I try not to bitch about the dupes and crappy stories that get posted here, but man is this a non-story.

    btw a good free pdf creatore for windows. or/
  • by mOoZik ( 698544 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:41PM (#12027218) Homepage
    By asking whether or not it is worse than malware, you are implying it is harmful. However, in the very end, you suggest that it is only worse in the sense that you can't get rid of it. That is very misleading.

  • Is this news? (Score:5, Informative)

    by flynt ( 248848 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:41PM (#12027225)
    I can remove the toolbar (Acobat Pro 6) from all the office products I just tried (only word and excel). The first link in this story is something about Visio, which is an add-on to office i think. I don't have that product, so I can't say. The other post is for office for mac osX, so I can't say there either. But the problem doesn't seem to be as big as the write-up suggests, surprised?
  • How to remove... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Golgafrinchan ( 777313 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:42PM (#12027226)
    Here's a page that provides instructions for how to remove the Acrobat Toolbar from Word.

    Instructions []

    Worked for me!

  • OS X (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mrs. Grundy ( 680212 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:42PM (#12027235) Homepage
    One of the nicest features of OS X is the ability to turn just about any darn thing into a PDF. Rather than spend the money on this just go out and buy a Mac. Of course you can't turn this feature off in OS X, so maybe my OS is malware too.
    • It isn't a feature you can turn off as a user. Quartz itself is based on the PDF imaging model, so spitting out PDF documents from views is naturally inherent.
    • Openoffice too (Score:3, Informative)

      by CdBee ( 742846 )
      lol. OpenOffice also can export to PDF without Acrobat present.. I'm sure most people don't know that, else why do they buy Acrobat?
      • Acrobat uses (Score:3, Informative)

        by Vandil X ( 636030 )
        Acrobat is used extensively in commercial prepress print publishing workflows that use PostScript.

        That's essentially every newspaper and magazine with a circulation of 40,000 and up.

        And most of those publications use Macs for the final pagination & printing, yet still purchase Acrobat for the fine-tuning features of Distiller.

        Also, Acrobat allows you to set document security attributes that's "Export to PDF" and Mac OS X's native "Save as PDF" don't support.
    • Re:OS X (Score:4, Interesting)

      by nunchux ( 869574 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @04:01PM (#12027481)
      Acrobat does have features that the "print" funtion doesn't. Lots of them, actually. One that I use frequently is the ability to merge many small documents in a binder to create a larger PDF. It's a clunky program, far from intuitive and a bit of a pain in the ass to use but Acrobat is essential for creating professional PDFs.

      Also, OSX PDFs aren't print quality... They're low resolution and the colors get wacky. If you're dealing with graphics that are going to be printed you need to export the PDF from Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark etc., not simply hit the "print" button.

      Not that OSX PDF creation isn't a Godsend... I use it all the time, for example it's a great way to save a web page. But it doesn't replace the higher-end document creation programs.
    • Re:OS X (Score:4, Informative)

      by micromoog ( 206608 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @04:09PM (#12027597)
      Rather than spend the money on this just go out and buy a Mac.

      Puh-leaze. Instead of spending money on Apple's overpriced wares, just use one of the many free alternatives [], available on all of your favorite platforms.

    • Nice as the Print to PDF feature in OS.X is there are a few things it can't do that Adobe can. Another problem that I have heard people gripe about who use Adobe Acrobat alot is that the OS.X PDF functionality lags a little behind the Acrobat suite in terms of features. That means you sometimes have trouble with files you get sent from people running the latest Acrobat suite. I dont use PDF's often enough to be irritated by this but I know some people who use Adobe products because of it.

      If you have any tr
  • Worse than malware? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by s4m7 ( 519684 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:43PM (#12027238) Homepage
    How can you tell in the MS office suite? The whole thing's got so many sliding panels, animated dogs saying "it looks like you're trying to get some work done." and other crap too numerous to list... I can't imagine one more toolbar being noticable.
    • by l810c ( 551591 ) * on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @04:13PM (#12027647)
      The built in toolbars can be turned on/off, moved around and organized just how you like. Restart the program and your settings are remembered.

      I actually would not mind this toolbar being there. I even used it occasionally. But this thing does not behave like all the other tool bars. Turn it off or move it, restart program and Bam, there it is right back on the top row of toolbars pushing all the others down one line and reducing my view of the document.

      It is a very annoying POS, so I just uninstalled it.

      • OT, but I have to say this. Excel has problems. I hate the reviewing toolbar. I just don't use it. It takes up valuable real estate. Whenever I open up a .xls that was saved by somebody who had the reviewing toolbar turned on (which is 98% of the rest of the world), the toolbar appears again, completely overriding my settings until I turn the toolbar off again. Fricking POS.

  • by bonch ( 38532 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:43PM (#12027240)
    Adobe toolbar, what's that? I just hit "Save to PDF" on any print dialogs...
  • Version 5 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Flave ( 193808 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:43PM (#12027243)
    I refuse to use anything newer than version 5 of Acrobat. They completely and totally fucked up the product after this release.
  • by TJ_Phazerhacki ( 520002 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:43PM (#12027244) Journal
    I guess youre stuck with it.

    On the other hand, it really shouldn't be this difficult to remove valid programs - MS should really step in here and mandate a total-removal tool. Something that wipes ALL THE BLOODY FILES and icons from the HDD.

    Of course, unless its IE, MS has never really believed in standards for the good of the end user - just for the good of the bottom line (WMA anyone???)

  • Isn't it as simple as right-clicking the toolbar area and unchecking PDFmaker? I did this in about 2 seconds and it's gone.
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:43PM (#12027247) Homepage
    ... Adobe has taken the Real approach to software.
  • What's worse is that basically 'infects' word and excel using the plugin system, and will 'reinstall' itself if it disappears, but if it's in there but broken, it will just spam errors to the users.

    We have licenses for 7.0 standard, but I've uninstalled and gone back to just reader. But I had to do a complete reinstall to get rid of entirely. (didn't hurt that I have a new laptop so... heh)

    Good news though: Reader does not do the plugin stuff, nor does it do it on my Solaris workstation.

  • Easy fix (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BlizzyMadden ( 814008 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:46PM (#12027279)
    I guess the best way to avoid this is to not install MS Office and use OpenOffice instead :-)
  • OS X (Score:4, Informative)

    by nottsp1 ( 854247 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:46PM (#12027281)
    Its annoying in Word 2004 for Mac.. always there in the toolbar. Also, its shit becuase if you've got Acrobat 7 installed, any pdf's you view in Safari have to open Acrobat first, no matter how many times you tell it to 'always open with preview'. Bugger.
  • Adobe or Microsoft? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lynx_user_abroad ( 323975 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:47PM (#12027295) Homepage Journal
    Why should Adobe be held to any different standard than Microsoft? If we've decided that Microsoft can't (at least in the U.S.) be forced to remove IE from Windows (even after they have been proven to posess market "monopoly" power) then why should we now demand that an "integral part of Adobe's product" be removable, hidable or whatever.

    Or maybe it was a mistake to allow Microsoft to get away with that?

  • by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:47PM (#12027296) Homepage
    Adobe seems to have partnered with Yahoo! to get Adobe Reader users to install the Yahoo! toolbar. When you go to to download Adobe Reader, they try to bundle a lot of other junk with it as well (Yahoo! toolbar, Adobe Download Manager, etc.) It's getting really annoying.

    I hate the way Acrobat loads in my browser window when I click a link to a PDF file, instead of simply opening Acrobat outside of my browser window. I end up with half the screen taken up by toolbars. It's ridiculous.
    • Yep, saw that... if you're not paying attention after the Adobe downloader finishes getting the three different install files (Adobe Photo Album, Yahoo Toolbar and of course the Acrobat Reader) and you answer Yes suddenly you've got stuff you never wanted or needed on your system and it's hard to get rid of.

      Someone else mentioned that Acrobat products after 5 have sucked bad and from what I've seen I'd have to agree.

      This is really getting out of hand, next thing you know there'll be sneakwrap / EU
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:48PM (#12027305) Homepage Journal
    For the longest time, the Malware market has been massively underexploited. Users have had to put up with low-grade, destroyable, self-sharing malware. In today's fast-paced marketplace, this is clearly unacceptable. Consumers need robust Malware with a quality brand-name behind it and technical support that speaks Ancient Egyptian only.

    Adobe is clearly filling a market need with their product. As pioneers they can, of course, charge premium rates for their commercial-grade Malware. They have to recoup the costs of conducting psychological studies on the most brain-corroding toolbar scheme imaginable. These things cost money, you know. It is wholly unreasonable to ask Adobe to develop such brain-mangling software and shoulder the research costs involved.

  • I'm confused (Score:4, Insightful)

    by plj ( 673710 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:48PM (#12027310)
    Does this mean that even uninstalling Acrobat itself won't remove the said toolbar?

    If does, then I understand whining about it. Not otherwise.
  • by bigtallmofo ( 695287 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:48PM (#12027312)
    This article is ridiculous. I've been a user of (BUY ADOBE ACROBAT []!!!!) Adobe's toolbar and I have never seen any (BUY ADOBE ACROBAT []!!!!) evidence of being infected with any sort of adware (BUY ADOBE ACROBAT []!!!!) or malware.
  • by Delilah Jones ( 852061 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:49PM (#12027316)
    True, not being able to get rid of a simple toolbar is not exactly malware-worthy.

    But let's face it, not being able to customize your own personal environment can be pretty frustrating.

    Imagine having a stack of papers on your desk that could never be removed, no matter what you did. Dang man. That'd drive me nuts!

    BTW, this discussion of permanent toolbars kind of reminds me of the invasive qualities of AOL. Ever try to get that junk off your PC? It's worse than a virus!

  • Geez, the first link from the article is to a visio problem [] that really is only obliquely related to Acrobat. The second does make reference to problems in disabling the Toolbar.

    But to call this malware is really rather much. Can't posters and editors make a little more effort to do more than whine?
  • by michaelbuddy ( 751237 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:51PM (#12027349) Homepage
    I wouldn't mess with it anyway. You can use Ghostscript. And you can used the modified primo pdf from active pdf. it's a free PDF creator.

    works great. one time it will ask you for personal info after you make like 25 pdfs, but you can just push the cancel button if you don't want to give them any statistical information. It appears as a printer on your computer. I use it, it's great.
  • Solution (Score:5, Informative)

    by MagPulse ( 316 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:51PM (#12027353)
    Search your hard drive for "" or probably anything else withe PDFMaker in the name. On my machine it installs it here:

    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\STARTUP

    That will get rid of it in all your Office apps including Outlook.
  • Well, what's the difference between using a tool like Adobe Acrobat and printing to a PostScript file and converting that *.ps file into a PDF document? Unless you need features such as links between the documents, for many uses, the PostScript -> PDF route is a much easier route. Besides, there are plenty of alternatives to converting Office files directly to PDFs, too, and I bet you that some of them have some of those extra capabilities that PDFs provide, too.

    Well, it doesn't really solve the toolb

  • by khrtt ( 701691 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:54PM (#12027388)
    Uncheck this:

    Edit>Preferences>Startup>Show Messages and automatically update

    The banner goes away, and, as a bonus, if you have auto-update disabled, the stupid app stops tickling the network too.

    C'mon gentlemen, this is not worth a slashdot article. Next time start your engines before flooring the pedal.
  • Next up (Score:5, Funny)

    by justforaday ( 560408 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @03:59PM (#12027466)
    Next on Slashdot, how to remove the MSNMessenger icon from your system tray!
  • by PingXao ( 153057 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @04:02PM (#12027503)
    Adobe is a company that just doesn't care that its products fail to adhere to common WIndows GUI guidelines *. I doubt they care about this. One example is their brain-dead "Save A Copy" function. That's just not "Windows", and what it does could have been handled with "Save As". Maybe it's Mac-like and they're trying to retain cross-platform look-and-feel but it just doesn't "feel" like WIndows and that goes for Acrobat, Photoshop, Premiere, etc. When it comes to the user interface they don't care so I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for them to "fix" something they don't feel is broken.

    * other offenders: Macromedia, Autodesk products. You realy notice when a program requires your UI neural pathways to shift gears.
  • by TheGuano ( 851573 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @04:13PM (#12027651)
    For Windows:

    For Mac:

    Annoying, but at least they show you how to get around the reappear/reinstall/undeletable garbage the toolbar usually subjects you to.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @04:23PM (#12027761)

    (posting anonymously to save my ass)

    This article is 100% bullshit.

    If you actually search [] the support documents, you can find instructions [] for removing PDFMaker. Or, if you're doing a first-time installation, you can just do a custom installation and *gasp* tell it not to install PDFMaker to begin with!

    What made version 6.0 and 7.0 annoying is the "self-heal" feature that would put the PDFMaker files back after you deleted them. However, if you use the custom install approach, the self-heal will not put PDFmaker back.

    Trivia: I personally have spoken with people who either want PDFMaker gone or want it back. The latter grossly outnumber the former.

  • by antdude ( 79039 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @04:23PM (#12027763) Homepage Journal
    If you guys didn't know, Adobe released its Reader v7.0 for Linux/Unix recently: /e nu/

    I don't think this port has the toolbar though. I don't remember and cannot check from work.
  • Old & busted: programs that had Windows systray icons you couldn't turn off, nor did you need

    New hotness: programs that have a web browser toolbar you can't uninstall.
  • Too integrated (Score:4, Informative)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @04:35PM (#12027985)

    Recent versions of Acrobat reader and writer which have come with other Adobe products and which I use for testing are really annoying. They hook into Word. They hook into Safari. They integrate with numerous apps by adding buttons and toolbars. It is really bothersome. On OS X, why do I need an extra button in Word That tries to sell me Acrobat Writer. It's not like Word on OS X can't already make PDFs. Also, Acrobat reader is much slower than Preview and grinds the browser to a halt while trying to open PDFs inline. That is half the reason PDFs suck so badly on Windows. Worse yet, recent version of reader on OS X silently fail to open some PDFs. Adobe needs to get their act together.

  • by liveevil ( 814109 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @04:48PM (#12028132)
    This is a symptom of the overall personality of the Adobe software. You install it on your machine and it throws it's weight around like an 800 lb gorilla. It's disgusting the number of files folders and registry keys it creates. You'd think the the sole purpose in life of your computer was to be the home of this software. At least Adobe seems to think so. Well, being that pdf is an open standard format, there are many many free implementations of readers, editors, converters etc. out there. For plain old viewing of pdfs I use and recommend Foxit pdfReader: It's very handy, fast, and not bloated. I for one will never let adobe get its meat hooks into my computer again.
  • bad, but not fatal (Score:3, Informative)

    by drteknikal ( 67280 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @04:53PM (#12028196) Homepage
    Prior to Acrobat 6, if you said not to install PDFMaker, it didn't. Starting with 6, it does it anyway. However, we've found that simply deleting the templates placed in the Office startup folders is enough to remove the integration and toolbars.

    The program installs things you specifically exclude. That is bad. The effect on end users is somewhere between confusing and aggravating. But at a support level, we've had very good luck removing the templates before creating workstation images, and we've been able to mostly avoid the problems as a result.
  • by megalomaniacs4u ( 199468 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @05:09PM (#12028379)

    Yes the visio version of the bar is right PITA.

    The toolbars are dead easy to remove.

    1. Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs
    2. Find Acrobat Professional
    3. Click "Change", wait a little while
    4. Click "Next"
    5. Make sure the modify radio button is selected and click "Next"
    6. Expand "Create Adobe PDF"
    7. Expand "Acrobat PDF Maker"
    8. For each toolbar you want to remove click the drop-down icon and select "This feature will not be available"
    9. Hit "Next"
    10. Hit "Update" & wait a while...
  • by teknokracy ( 660401 ) <teknokracy.telus@net> on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @05:52PM (#12028884)
    This is why I use Acrobat 5. No bloated features, but still lots of functionality. Does anyone else love the fact that Mac OS X can produce PDFs without having to install ANY Adobe products?

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"