We’ll cut to the chase: if you use a Mac to prepare PDF documents for filing on ECF, take note of these special instructions to avoid problems with your electronic filings.

While PDFs have certainly made life easier in most ways, some lawyers and law firms – specifically those that are creating PDFs on their Macs –  run into trouble with converting documents into PDFs and properly formatting PDFs.

In this blog we want to help all our Mac-loving lawyers ensure that your PDFs are always converted and formatted correctly. Florida has their own specific requirements for submitting PDF documents, as do most states, but this blog will cover the basics for most Mac-related PDF conversion.

PDF creation step by step

Creating PDF documents with certain settings on Macs may result in PDF documents with internal errors that will prevent access to the PDFs once they are filed on the court’s electronic court filing (ECF) system.

1. Creating Documents Using a Mac

When creating a document using MS Word on a Macintosh computer, at the step where you convert the document to PDF format, choose the option “Best for electronic distribution and accessibility.” This will create a PDF document free from internal errors.

2. Editing Forms Online Using a Mac

Please don’t use the Safari web browser to download and electronically complete court forms from the court’s website to produce a document for filing on ECF. The Google Chrome web browser has been tested and proven to create PDFs free from internal errors.

Additional PDF Conversion Options and Tips

If you have Microsoft Word 2008 on a Mac:

1. Choose File > Save As

2. Change the File Type to PDF
3. Save. Fonts are automatically embedded in Word 2008. (Note: This version is not fully PDF/A compliant. Also, previous versions of Microsoft Word do not automatically embed fonts).

Online Converters

Another option you have is to use an online PDF converter. These are website that can take your original file in many forms and turn it into a PDF. The main pro to this is that it’s system independent, meaning you can use it the same whether you have a PC or a Mac. The main con is that some of these online converters have file size limits that won’t allow them to convert large files.

Here’s a PDF converter from Adobe.

One of the most reliable online PDF converters is CometDocs. While it’s not true PDF/A conversion, it will embed all fonts used in your document. It’s a simple process:

1. Click ‘Browse’ and choose your file (they’ll accept .doc and .docx files, among others)

2. Choose PDF Create
3. Enter your e-mail address
4. Click Send

5. In a few minutes, you’ll receive an e-mail with a link to go to the site and download your file. It will say: “Here is your file converted by CometDocs:”

Luke Kumanchik

Entrepreneur, programmer, backyard farmer & Dungeon Master Extraordinaire.