What Is Adobe Acrobat DIstiller?

By Kammy Pow

Distiller belongs to the Adobe Acrobat family of software products. It is included in full versions of Adobe Acrobat, and must be installed on any computer system used to generate PDF files from PostScript files.


Adobe Acrobat Distiller is the primary engine used to convert PostScript (*.ps) files to Portable Document Format (PDF). Distiller can be accessed from certain software applications, or on its own as a standalone product.


Distiller serves as one method for creating a PDF file. The other is by using PDF Writer.


Distiller generally produces higher quality PDFs than PDF Writer. Distiller can reproduce graphics and complex text on a document more precisely than PDF Writer. In addition, Distiller allows customization of print jobs, as well as the option to import print jobs from other sources.


Adobe Acrobat Distiller made its first appearance in Adobe Acrobat 1.0, released in 1993 for Macintosh, and then later for Windows 3.1 and DOS. At that time, as no printer driver was included, all PDFs were created using Distiller. The Distiller printer driver appeared with Version 3.0 in 1996, and was renamed to Adobe PDF Writer with Version 6.0 in 2003.

Fun Fact

When PDF files are created from software applications, such as from Excel or Word, the file gets converted first to PostScript and then to PDF by Distiller.