One Step Closer to Paperless: WWF File Format

Geek Culture


Cartoon: Jonathan Liu

You probably know somebody like this, somebody who still prints out emails and websites to read. Okay, sometimes it’s nice to have a hard copy of something but it’s becoming less and less necessary. With web-ready devices and smart phones, the cloud and gigabytes of online storage, there’s really little excuse for printing out a document just so you can read it later.

wwf iconwwf iconWith that in mind, the German branch of the World Wildlife Fund has created a new file format: the WWF. Using free software available at the site (currently for Macs, with a Windows version coming soon), you can now “Save as WWF”—basically it’s a PDF with printing capabilities disabled. It tacks on a page at the end with a brief explanation, but the site explains that you can open WWF files with most programs that open PDFs.

There are a few problems, though: the Mac’s Quick Look feature doesn’t work with WWF files, and neither does Preview, which I typically use instead of Adobe Acrobat. The WWF software does include its own viewer, but I tend to read a lot of PDFs in Quick Look. One other disadvantage: I tried saving the above cartoon as a WWF file, but WordPress wouldn’t let me upload it because it doesn’t meet security guidelines. Photoshop didn’t want to open the file, either.

So it’s not a perfect solution and I don’t know if it will become widely adopted—but if you’re sending a bunch of PDFs to somebody that you know tends to print everything out, maybe it’s time to switch to WWF and encourage them to go paperless.

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