April 21, 2011, 9:26 AM — Whether you call yourself green or just a good-old-fashioned miser, saving energy and resources usually means saving some money too. But how does that apply to using computers? In honor of Earth Day, we polled Macworld's readers to find their favorite tips for green computing. Here are the results.
1. Use PDFs whenever possible
Paper products represent the largest portion of the United States' trash, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 2007, they made up roughly 68 million tons (or a little over a quarter) of all materials in the municipal waste stream. But even if you don't feel ready to go all the way to a paperless workflow, you can still cut back on your paper use.
It's easy to take advantage of OS X's built-in support for the PDF file format in small but significant ways. Reader ckasper called out the ever handy Save As PDF feature as a paper saver. For instance, instead of printing receipts for every online purchase, press Command-P and in the Print window that appears, click on the PDF button. Choose Save PDF To Web Receipts Folder and a copy of the receipt—images and all—will be saved to a pre-made folder in youruserfolder/Documents.
If you want to save PDFs in a different folder you can do that too. (For instance, make one for "Donations.") Create your new folder where ever you'd like. Then, next time you need to save a PDF, press Command-P, click on the PDF button, choose Edit Menu from the bottom, and then click on the plus (+) button to add your folder. The folder will appear in the PDF menu from then on.
Reader Matt Clement also vouched for the power of PDFs. He e-mails reports to himself so he can view them on his iPad instead of printing out hard copies. "I send them in PDF and them open them in iBooks, so I've got them all week in one handy place," he said. (We recently shared an Automator workflow that simplifies moving PDFs onto an iPad or iPhone.)
2. Make the most of your paper