5 Easy Steps: How to Convert Google Docs to PDF

The beauty of creating digital documents is the ability to create universally accessible files. However, choosing which document format platform to use depends on the unique characteristics of your needs, budget, safety standards, or compliance regulations.

Many factors go into this decision, such as whether or not you have the software for a particular platform, the security of the data, formatting choices, accessibility, and much more.

Two of the most popular document formats in use today are Google Docs and Portable Document Format (PDF).

Google Docs is a free web-based program that lives on Cloud servers, providing convenient features, such as auto syncing, Research Tool, and Real Time. PDF is a standardized and secure document format for file sharing, saving, and storing.  These features are just a few reasons why Google Docs and PDF make a perfect match!

Google Docs & PDF: Better Together

The beauty of Google Docs is that your document can be digitally shared easily and securely. The same can be said of PDF, with the added benefit of reliability and versatility across different platforms. PDF is known for accessibility through any operating system that has a PDF viewer installed. Another advantage of PDF is having the option for centralized control, as well as many security features.

While both applications have their benefits, there are times when using one or the other is more efficient. In some instances, it is best to convert Google Docs to PDF.

In this Learning Center article, we will go over precisely what a Google Doc and a PDF each are, compare them to each other, and then provide you with five simple steps using Google Docs to convert the file to PDF. Once you learn how to convert Google Docs to PDF, you can optimize your uses with both formats. Let's get going!

What is Google Docs?

Google Docs is a web-based application through which the user can import, create, update, and edit documents. The data is formatted bringing together texts with images, tables, lists, and formulas. Google Docs has become a wide-spread file format because of it's ability to save online (freeing up hard drive space) and sharing with others (as long as the shared party has a browser and internet to open it in).

In comparison to the popular Microsoft® Word documents, Google Docs can be utilized fully without the purchase of any software and offers a wide variety of options, allowing the user to work with more complex documents.

Another benefit of Google Docs is that the application is web-based and accessible from any computer with any browser including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Chrome OS. It is also available to access on IOS and Android devices. The user simply needs a login and from there can access a document with many detailed features.

In collaborative projects, Google Docs works wonders because it's easily shared between individuals with viewing and editing options. Google Docs makes it possible for multiple people to collaborate on the same file on Real Time.

However, users do experience some common flaws. With glitches in web services, such as a disruption or an outage, users may not be able to access the online files, apps may not load, or file syncing may lag. These glitches require the user to prepare for these cases taking precautionary measures like downloading copies or printing copies of the material, defeating the convenience of auto-saving and syncing on a cloud.

Although many of features offered in Google Docs are helpful resources for projects such as articles, collaborative projects, and blogs, there are particular reasons, such as security, formatting, and variable permissions that may lead you wondering how to convert Google Docs to PDF.

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Why PDF?

PDF is a document file format that contains data, images, text and independent from any operating system, application software and hardware. Shareable across many platforms, PDF files are already a compressed file, and larger PDF files are easy to downsize if necessary. A PDF file can be made up of multiple files with the content bundled into one single file. Anybody who has a PDF reader installed can view these files identically across many different devices.

PDF is known for centralized control and security abilities. There are options for censorship, passwords, access to edit and print, and are a legally accepted form of a document. PDFs are even used by the Government agencies, which proves they will stand the test of time.

PDF files offer advantageous form-fill options in which the users (granted permission) can fill out information or even provide a digital signature on an electronic document. These options save valuable time allowing for a higher volume workload and accuracy at a faster pace.


Google Docs vs. PDF

Before we learn how to convert Google Docs to PDF, it's helpful to understand the reason for the conversion. With both document formats having advantages and disadvantages, here are vital differences between Google Docs and PDF files. 

Web Based vs. Viewer Based

Google Docs is web-based which can be beneficial for many aspects, including working in collaborative projects for school or work in Real Time. However, Google Docs can be detrimental if unprepared for a service malfunction. PDF is viewable by any recipient who has a PDF reader. Both types of documents are available offline if downloaded previously; although auto syncing will not occur with Google Docs until online again.

Basic Security vs. Advanced Security

Because your files live in your Google Drive account, Google Docs are password secured. However, these documents are still susceptible to data leaks from internet hackers or from the user merely forgetting to log out in a public space. PDFs have exceptional security mechanisms for more sensitive and discreet material. PDF files enable the user to redact, password-protect, and disable the print option. Electronic footprints ensure nothing is alterable without leaving a trace.

Easy-Access Edits vs. High-Security Edits

With access to a Google Docs file, the users can add text and data directly into the shared and auto-synced copy via their web browser. Real Time editing in Google Docs is an original feature for group projects and evolving data. However, editing in a PDF is optimum for a finalized variation of a document that will not need any foreseen edits. PDF files can only be edited in PDF software and only if granted permission.


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How to Convert Google Docs to PDF in 5 Steps:

Listed below are two different methods of how to convert a Google Docs to PDF using Google Drive in five simple steps.


Method 1 (Guide to saving and re-uploading data)

  1. Log into Google Drives with your user account information and open the Google Docs file you to want to convert to PDF
  2. Go to File
  3. Select Download As
  4. Select PDF Document
  5. Re-upload the new PDF file to your Google Drive

Method 2 (Guide to converting Google Docs to PDF without involving downloading)

  1. Log into Google Drive with your user account information and open the Google Docs file you to want to convert to PDF
  2. Click the Print icon
  3. Select the Change button in the Print Destination box
  4. A dialog box will pop up that prompts you to select a destination. Under Print Destinations, click Save to Google Drive.
  5. Go back to your Google Drive, and you will now have a PDF


In Conclusion

With a better understanding of the two different document formats, you can decipher which type is best for your needs. It may not always be the same. As we've seen in this article, using your Google Drive to convert the pertinent Google Docs to PDF is straightforward. It is a quick and useful tool in taking a prudent step to protect your data.

While Google Docs is efficient and reliable with such simple ability to access from any web browser on most devices, it is not the best choice to keep essential data such as financial records, sensitive health records, or government documents. Also, since relying on the web for this document type, you may occasionally run into inevitable malfunctions with the server.

Remember, PDF offers a higher level of security and functionality that allows centralized control and a trace of any alterations. Most computers are equipped with a PDF viewer program, and if not, there are many others that are easily accessible online. As for top security measures, PDF allows censorship, password protection, encryption, form-fill options, and many more features.

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