ReadingOnlineDocs - MRC CBU Imaging Wiki

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Finzd thee wrang lelters ino eacuh wosrd

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Reading Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) documents

Adobe Acrobat format provides highly compressed documents retaining text formatting and graphics. Files in this format usually have the extension .pdf (portable document format). For more information see the Adobe site.

Your web browser may already be set up to read these files. In this case, clicking on the link to the document will load the Adobe Acrobat Reader, with the document displayed. From thence you can scroll through, print, etc. No need to read further, you lucky people.

If your browser is not set up to cope with these files, then when you click on a link to a .pdf file, you will be offered the option to save the file to your local machine. Do this. Next steps are:

  1. Do you have a copy of Acrobat Reader? First check whether you have a copy of Acrobat Reader installed. On a Unix machine, type 'acroread' at the Unix prompt to run the program; no dice? - you may need to install it. On a Windows 95/8/NT machine, the usual install will have put an entry in the programs menu: Adobe Acrobat - leading to a link to Acrobat Reader. It will also have told Windows that it will read .pdf files, so that files ending in a .pdf extension, such as the one you have just downloaded, will have a .PDF logo icon in the Explorer, and will open up from the Explorer in Acrobat Reader. No? Then see install below.
  2. Installing Acrobat Reader

    If you are attached to the CBU network, we have local copies of the Acrobat reader. If not, then follow the links to Acrobat Reader from the Adobe site.There are instructions for installing there, as well as the program to download (which is free). When you have installed, you can (I hope) start the program, and then open the document that you have just saved. Wonderful.

Postscript (.ps) files

Postscript is a page description language which again allows the inclusion of text formatting and graphics. Postscript files usually end in .ps or .eps. They are often large, and therefore usually compressed to reduce download time. If they are compressed they will usually have an extension with a Z in - .zip or .Z or .gz or .bz2. To uncompress see below.You will most likely a) not be able to read the postscript file direct from your web browser, and b) have a postscript reading program installed somewhere. The approach then would be, from your web browser, to click on the link to the (compressed or uncompressed) postscript file. Save the file to a local disk. If it is compressed, then uncompress it (see below). Now you should be able to read the file with a postscript reading program. A common program for this is ghostview. On the Sun machines, either pageview or imagetool are useful.


Ghostview is an extremely useful and free viewer for postscript files. Ghostview works on top of ghostscript, a program, or rather a suite of programs, for manipulating postscript files.To check if you have ghostview / ghostscript installed: On a Windows 95/8/NT machine, the usual install will have a) put an entry in the programs menu - GS Tools -> GS view, and b) have told Windows that it will read .ps files, so that files ending in a .ps extension, will have the ghostview icon in the Explorer, and will open up from the Explorer in ghostview. On a Unix machine, type 'ghostview' at the unix prompt. No? You might consider an install: if you are on the CBU network, we have a local copy of ghostview, otherwise see the instructions at the ghostview website for details.

Uncompressing files

Many internet files are compressed. There are various different types of compression: on Unix, common compression programs are 'gzip' (files usually ending in .gz, or .tgz) and the older 'compress' (files ending in .Z). You may come across the newer 'bzip2' (files ending in .bz2). To uncompress on Unix, use the relevant program in the table below:


File extensions

To uncompress type:


.gz .tgz

gunzip <filename>



uncompress <filename> or gunzip <filename>



bunzip2 <filename>

To uncompress in windows, you can use use EasyZip, (which is freeware) or the shareware program, winzip. Both programs will uncompress .gz, and .Z files, as well as the most common windows compression format, .zip files (compressed with a version of the pkzip algorithm). Winzip may well already be installed on your system (an entry in the start menu - WinZip; files ending in a .zip, .gz etc, will have a clamp icon). If not then you can download it from the winzip website.

Matthew Brett 11/10/99