Adobe Acrobat Distiller is a software utility that converts PostScript page description language files into Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) documents. It is included within Adobe's Acrobat Professional package.
All Adobe Creative Suite software applications support native export of PDF directly without the need for Adobe Acrobat Distiller, as can an expanding variety of competitive design applications, including QuarkXPress. Installing Adobe Acrobat Professional provides the functionality to produce PDFs from any software application using the Adobe PDF virtual print driver.
Historically, Acrobat Distiller was the only way of producing high-quality Adobe PDFs for prepress from graphics software: first you would 'print' the pages to a PostScript file using a PostScript printer driver, the resulting postscript file would then be processed with Adobe Acrobat Distiller to convert them to PDF. Many publishers and design studios still feel this is the best way to ensure that 'clean' PDFs are created, especially when using non-Adobe design software applications.
Acrobat Distiller offers a hot-folders feature that automatically generates PDFs according to specific settings when PostScript files are dropped in marked folders. As a result, Acrobat Distiller forms an important component of certain automated prepress workflows, and it's likely that Adobe does not wish to break these by failing to include the utility with each new release of Acrobat.
In version 8 of Acrobat Professional, Acrobat Distiller is launched from the Advanced > Print Production menu, or it can be launched as a standalone utility from its own program icon.