SEARCH

How-To Geek

Convert PDF Files to Word Documents and Other Formats

Most of us know easy ways to turn a Word or other text document into a PDF, but what if we need to convert a PDF to Word?  Today we will take a look at some methods to turn a PDF document into a Word or other text document.

Online Solutions

The first couple of solutions are web-based, so you don’t even need to install any software to convert your files… keep in mind that with these web sites you are uploading your data to a third party, so consider the privacy implications if you are converting sensitive documents.

Zamzar

Arguably the most popular online file conversion site is Zamzar.  This free service allows you to convert files up to 100MB for free.  Just browse to the PDF, select the format to convert to, then enter your email address.  When the document is ready Zamzar will send you an email with a link to the document to download.  Zamzar will also convert a PDF to HTML, ODT, PCX, PNG, PS, RTF, and TXT.    

Zamzar

Use Zamzar Free Online File Conversion

PDF Online

Another great online service is PDF Online.  This service is powered by BCL Technologies Easy Converter software which you can download a 30 day trial of if you or your company wants to convert a large number of documents.  Currently you can sign up for a BCL Premium Online account which allows you to convert 20 documents per day with a 10MB (per document) size limit.    

PDF Online

After conversion you simply Right-Click on the link to “save link as” an RTF Word document on your PC.

PDF to Word for Free

Use PDF Online Free PDF Services

Free PDF Converter

The final online service we will check out is Free PDF Converter.  This is similar to Zamzar but the free version is much more limited.  I submitted the same 4 page PDF document for all tests and this service cut my document off after 2 pages.  Also, they only let you convert one PDF every 30 minutes.  The cheapest membership is $9/month where conversions are basically unlimited.  In a pinch this site may come in handy.

Free PDF Converter

Use Free PDF Converter

Software Solutions

The next set of solutions are software-based, applications that can be installed on your local computer and used offline. These would be a better choice for converting sensitive documents.

BCL Easy Converter Desktop 1.0

Since PDF Online impressed me the most with their online conversion service I decided to take their desktop software for a spin.  BCL Easy Converter Desktop 1.0 is a very simple yet powerful utility to convert PDF documents to Word.  It works basically the same as the online service but on your desktop.  It converts PDF documents to RTF only, but for twenty bucks it might be more useful than wasting time online.  You can download a trial of Easy Converter Desktop or the purchase price is only $19.95.   

BCL Easy Converter

 Download A Free Trial of BCL Easy Converter Desktop 1.0

DocSmartz

Sometimes you might want to convert the PDF document to other file formats such as Excel, HTML, or Postscript.  DocSmartz Pro is a great affordable desktop application to get the file format you want.  Choose the PDF you want to convert and DocSmartz Pro walks you though different settings with an easy to follow wizard.

DocSmartz

Download DocSmartz Pro

ABBYY PDF Transformer 2.0

Another software solution that converts PDF documents to multiple formats is ABBYY PDF Transformer 2.0 which is capable of converting PDF’s to Word, Excel, RTF, HTML, TXT, and a searchable PDF document.  In my tests ABBYY did a fine job of converting PDF’s into each format.  For a full license of ABBYY Transformer it will set you back $99.

ABBYY PDF Transformer 

Download PDF Transformer 2.0

Free PDF to Word Doc Converter

Finally we get to the good part, the (sort of) FREE  version.  Free PDF to Word Converter 1.1 is also basic and simple to use like BCL’s Easy Converter but actually has a few extra options such as choosing a font and selecting page numbers.  Conversions were quick and easy even with large documents with a lot of images.

Free PDF to Word  

There is a catch however.  After the first few conversions you are asked to download a registration code from the site every time you want to convert a document.  To never have to enter in a registration code you will have to pay $15.

Registration Code

Download Free PDF to Word Converter 1.1

Conclusion

After testing the online services it seems that converting a PDF to RTF (Rich Text Format) seems to work the best.  When converting to a Doc the format can get pretty messy.  PDF Online was the fastest, easiest to use,and produced the best quality conversions over the other online services.

Out of the two multiple file format converters, DocSmartz Pro was much easier to use and was faster than ABBYY’s PDF Transformer 2.0.  If you just need to convert a PDF to Word then Free PDF to Word Doc Converter will work a few times until the annoyance of getting a code for every document kicks in.  If you want to be able to convert PDF to multiple formats DocSmartz Pro is the best and cheapest.  If you only need to convert PDF to Word then BCL Easy Converter Desktop 1.0 is the best bet.

These are only a few of the services and software utilities available, what are some of your favorites?  Let us know!

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 03/5/09

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!