What Is a PDF File Used For: A Helpful Guide


Are you wondering exactly what the purpose of a PDF file is? What is a PDF file used for?

PDF documents crop up all over the place. You find them at work, you find them at school, and you find them in all sorts of emails in your personal life. But they are not documents that we deal with as much as, say, word processor documents.

So, what’s the deal with the PDF file format?

what is a pdf file used for

Well, in this article, we are going to answer that question once and for all. If you want to know all about the PDF document, read on!

What Is a PDF Document?

Before we answer the question ‘What is a PDF file used for?’, let’s get some background information on what a PDF document is. Then, we’ll start working out exactly how it works and what it is used for.

PDF stands for Portable Document Format.

The PDF file format was developed in 1993 by a software company called Adobe. This company is still around and still makes all sorts of different software for doing things like editing photos to editing videos.

But the PDF file format may very well be the kind of file that they will always be most remembered for.

Technically, the PDF is referred to as ISO 32000. This just means that the ISO organization has designated the file type a specific code for classification.

What is the ISO. Well ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization. It’s a massive institution that helps with standardizing all sorts of different things across all sorts of different industries. Now you know.

What Are the Features of a PDF Document?

The name of the file type—portable file document—tells you a little bit about what a PDF file is good for. The main feature of PDF files is that they are mainly designed for being moved, rather than editing.

But let’s look at this a bit more closely.

Text and Images

The first feature to be aware of with PDF documents is that they support both text and images. However, they don’t support dynamic material like videos.

They can, however, support hyperlinks, which means that the file can contain buttons that will allow a user to visit a particular website.

So, in sum, the PDF file is a basic file type with the most common features found on most documents, text, and images.


The next most important feature of PDF files is that they are extremely versatile. By this, we mean that PDF files can be accessed on virtually any device.

There are many file types that can’t be accessed by different operating systems. Some file types can’t be accessed on Macs, but can be accessed on PCs. The same thing goes the other way.

But PDF files can be used on both systems. This is one of the reasons why PDF files are used so often by so many different organizations. They are just universal!

If you are wondering how to open a PDF file on a Mac, this is very easy. PDF files on macs should actually open automatically with the program called ‘Preview’.

If the file doesn’t open automatically, you have two options:

  1. Open Preview manually, then press ‘File’ and ‘Open’. Then, choose the file you wish to open.
  2. Go to the file, right-click, then press ‘Open With’. You will be given different software options. Scroll until you find Preview.

On a Windows device, it is easy to open a PDF document using the Adobe Reader program. This should come automatically installed on your device.


Another very useful feature of the PDF file format is that they are great for displaying content. What this means is that the document can be used to send text and images in a format that is not able to be edited.

Of course, it is possible to edit PDF documents. If you’re wondering how to combine pdf files or to add text or images to them, this is all possible. You will find many tips for using PDF files on the internet to perform virtually any task.

Although, sometimes it is necessary to use specialist software to perform more complex tasks. The Mac program Preview, for example, is extremely basic and so it’s not that easy to edit a PDF document with it.

The best PDF editing softwares are the ones provided by Adobe.

However, the fact that PDF documents are not easily edited is actually a good thing in many circumstances. It means that people can receive documents without accidentally editing or altering them in some way.

This is why they are used for a lot of official documentation.

What Is a PDF File Used For?

Well, you’ve probably already now got a reasonably good idea of what a PDF file is used for. But, basically, PDF files are used for almost anything!

However, as we have made clear, the preference for PDF files exists when someone wants to display content rather than edit it.

One good thing about PDF files is that they can be partially editable, which gives you the best of both worlds. For example, official documents are often sent in PDF format, with certain text boxes available for information to be added.

This allows you to add some content to the document without changing the existing content.

Don’t Stress with PDF Files

Hopefully, you can now answer the question ‘What is a pdf file used for?’ yourself. Basically, it’s a very versatile document found everywhere!

But as some parting advice, make sure you don’t get hung up when using PDF documents. When you understand how they work, they are not really all that difficult. This is particularly the case if you are trying to edit them.

Just learn how to use simple editing tools or to convert the file and you will be fine. Other than that, it’s a great file type for producing beautiful presentation documents!

If you’ve found this information useful, why not check out some of our other great articles on tech topics?