FAQs > Technical

Frequently Asked Questions - Technical

What are .pdf files?

How do I view .pdf files?

How do I print/save .pdf files?

How do I view media files?

How do I view documents in formats such as .doc, .xls and .ppt?


What are .pdf files?
"PDF" stands for "portable document format."  It is a product of Adobe® Systems. It's used for electronic distribution because it faithfully preserves the look and feel of the original document complete with fonts, colors, images, and layout. It also can be used across many different types of computers and browsers. It is commonly used for government publications, leaflets and forms.

How do I view .pdf files?

To view and print a PDF file, you need a software program called Adobe Acrobat Reader®.  Adobe makes this program available free of charge. You can download it from Adobe.com. Acrobat Reader will work automatically with your browser as a plug-in so you can view and print PDF files. Please note that the download is large – typically between 8MB and 16MB.

Get Adobe Reader


  1. Problems with viewing pages can occur if an older version of Acrobat is being used, specifically 3.0 or older. Most of our PDF files view and print with versions 4.0 or 5.0, but we recommend using the latest version available.
  2. Problems viewing on screen (blank pages) may occur if you have recently upgraded from Internet Explorer (Version 4 to Version 5) without reinstalling a newer version of the Acrobat Reader.
  3. Because many of the PDF's on our site have photos or other graphics, file sizes can be large. Not only will this slow download times, but the file may not show on your screen at all (especially with a dial-up connection). Sometimes, just clicking on the "refresh" button on your browser will reset the connection and bring the file up.
  4. Internet Explorer security settings may be set so Active X plugins won't run -- Acrobat Reader uses Active X.

If you are encountering any of the above problems, you may still be able to save the PDF file to your personal computer (PC) and view or print from your PC using your current Acrobat Reader software.

Alternatives to Adobe Acrobat Reader
Adobe Acrobat Reader is by far the most popular PDF viewer but there are several other viewers available for download that will allow you to view and print PDF documents on a variety of platforms and systems. The following sites may help:

Online Conversion Tools for Adobe PDF Documents
You can visit the Adobe Acrobat website, type in the address of a PDF file and get it to translate the file into a more readable format while you wait. Or you can email the address of the file (or the file itself) to Adobe, and they will email a translation back. The translations of the files may not be as clearly formatted as the original PDF file.The link is http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/access_onlinetools.html

How do I print/save pdf files?

When printing Adobe PDF files from within your web browser, do NOT use the web browser print facility options.This will NOT print the PDF file and usually results in a blank page being printed. Note that when viewing a PDF file, a 2nd toolbar appears on your computer screen. The toolbar will be directly above the page or document. Click on the print icon on this toolbar, it is usually the 2nd button on the left, to print the PDF file (see graphic below - use the icon circled in green, do not use the icon or menu option with the red "x").

Image showing which icon to use to print a .pdf file

Problems may occur if your printer and/or the memory capacity of your personal computer cannot handle large PDF files. If you encounter problems when printing a PDF file, try printing one page at a time. More solutions are given in the adobe site - http://www.adobe.com/support/techdocs/316508.html

Printing the PDF file as an image may enable the file to print, but it doesn't identify the source of the problem; proceed through this document to identify the source.

Note: When you print a PDF file as an image, it may take longer to print.

To print a PDF file as an image:

Acrobat 7.0 and 6.x:

  1. Choose File > Print, and then click Advanced.
  2. Select Print As Image and any other desired printing options.
  3. Click OK to close the Advanced Print Setup dialog box, and then click OK.

Acrobat 5.x:

  1. Choose File > Print.
  2. Select Print as Image, and then click OK.

You can save any of the PDF documents to diskette and take them away to view again or print on your own PC (assuming you have/get a copy of Acrobat). The way you do this depends on how the PDF document was opened.

  1. If the PDF document was opened in an Acrobat window then go to File|Save As at the top of the Acrobat window.
  2. If the PDF document was opened in the browser frame then go to File|Save As or File|Save Frame As at the top of the browser window. Note if the File|Save As or File|Save Frame AS are grayed out, then click somewhere in the frame displaying the PDF document and try again, it may be that the browser doesn't know which frame is active.
In either case you should then be presented with a Save As window and you should select the drive/location to save the file.

How do I view media files?

HartfordInfo.org has two different formats of media files - .mp3 format and .wmv format. To view them, you need to download plug-ins/viewers. The following are some of the available free viewers.

RealPlayer allows users to view video and hear audio files on the Internet. Users can choose between the free player or an enhanced paid version. It doesn't support .wmv files. To find out more about its supported formats, go to http://home.real.com/product/help/rp10v8_ts/en/Media_Formats.htm

Get RealPlayer

Microsoft Windows Media Player
Windows Media Player allows users to view video and hear audio files on the Internet. It supports both .mp3 and .wmv file formats. To find out more about its supported formats, go to http://support.microsoft.com/kb/316992.

Get Windows Media Player

How do I view documents in formats such as .doc, .xls and .ppt?

Microsoft Word(.doc)
Microsoft Word is a word processing application. Viewers for Word documents are available from Microsoft. Viewers allow users who don't have Microsoft Word to view Word files.

Get Word Viewer


Microsoft Excel(.xls)
Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application. Viewers for Excel are available from Microsoft. Viewers allow users who don't have Microsoft Excel to view Excel files.

Get Excel Viewer

Microsoft PowerPoint(.ppt)
Microsoft PowerPoint is a presentation program. Viewers for PowerPoint are available from Microsoft. Viewers allow users who don't have Microsoft PowerPoint to view PowerPoint files.

Get PowerPoint Viewer

Back To Top

Back To FAQ Home Page

| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
Powered by Hartford Public Library  

Includes option to search related Hartford sites.

Advanced Search
Search Tips

Can't Find It? Have a Question?