Mac Links LIVE!

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Ha, “I’ll explain.”

For I think 10-15 years now I’ve been using the Office suite on PC to make PDFs of Word, Powerpoint, and Excel files and never gave links a second thought. You embed links in text like this in the source file and they’re live in the PDF. Fonts and layout are identical to what you created in the source file.

Not on Mac.

Oh, if you simply type out links as text, e.g., https://www.crunchbase.com/person/jeff-cotrupe, they do save as live links in PDFs. But it is self-evident why that is sub-optimal. Pretty much everywhere in all applications people embed links in all content like this, and that is the standard.

Create a file in Office on the Mac, save as PDF and you’re presented with two choices:

  • Saving your PDF as “Best for printing” preserves fonts/layouts but kills the links.
  • Saving as “Best for electronic and accessibility (uses Microsoft online service)” gives you live links, but is also dependent upon which fonts Microsoft has loaded on those servers. In any file I’ve ever tested, this method massacres fonts and layouts and is unworkable.

After much experimentation and testing, here are the only two ways you can use Word on a Mac to create PDFs with embedded live links AND the fonts and layout of your choice:

[1] Use Word for Mac to create your doc. Save as Best Print Quality. Your embedded links are dead. Buy Acrobat Pro DC for $450 or license it for a year for $180. Open your PDF and the source Wordfile. Copy link locations for all links in Wordfile and paste them in into new link boxes you create over those same words or phrases in PDF.

[2] Buy Parallels, Windows 10, and Office for your Mac. Parallels virtual machine frees Word to do on Mac what it does on PC: save embedded live links in PDF. Not sure what it cost my company to buy Parallels and Windows 10 licenses, and the new separate license for Office to use in Parallels. 

Long way and lot of money to go just to create live links AND not demolish your fonts and layouts when saving Word to PDF on a Mac, right? But those are your choices.

I bet Microsoft, Apple, and Adobe could get together and fix this in a New York (or Seattle, or Silicon Valley) minute. But there’s a lot of money changing hands in #s 1 and 2 above, so…

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