24 May 2008

Converting Files (doc to/from pdf)

A couple of weeks ago I needed to convert doc's to pdf's and vice versa for a project that WEMTA's Battle of the Books/Golden Archer Award committees have been working on. After doing a simple google search, I discovered many, but didn't know which would be better and easy to use. So I asked for help via our organization's listserv. What a great group! Within an hour I had many answers. Here are some of the answers and my experience.

  • I do it via scanner. My Epson scanner software offers a setting to save as PDF. I too have a scanner and hadn't thought of using it. I wanted to convert a pdf to doc and be able to edit. I've tried to use OCR scanning and found it to be lacking (or maybe it was user error) so I didn't try to use my scanner or check out whether it could save a scan as pdf.
  • This site is free and I have used it numerous times. It’s called Zamzar. I had already heard abou Zamzar and I think I had even used it once before for something, so I gave it a try. It's an easy online tool, no signup needed. One just needs to upload the file, select the format to convert to, enter your email address, and convert. Zamzar converts your file. As soon as this is done you receive an email to let you know where you can download your file from. The file will only be available for 24 hours once you have been notified. It took about 30 minutes to receive my email. After downloading I had trouble editing the document. The original formating came thru but I found it difficult to change. So I moved on to another suggestion.

  • Here's an excellent article which links to two main tools: pdf995 (download and run) and Zamzar (online service). Both have free and non-free versions. I found this article by searching on Google for "convert from pdf to word" without the double-quotes.
    I've used pdf995 very successfully and finally paid for it (a whole $9.95) to be able to easily convert any document to a pdf.
    I read the article and began to understand a little bit. But I was converting pdf to doc, so I continued to look at more of the suggestions.

The rest of the suggestions, however, were all for converting doc to pdf :

So, I did another google search on pdf to doc. I examined a bunch of sites, but didn't want to buy any software and I was leary of downloading even if it was free. I was really looking for an online site that would convert for me and be free. I finally found PDF2Word Online. It is really easy, but a little strange. At the site browse to find your pdf file. No signup is necessary, nor will the converted filed be emailed. The Word document will be immediately pushed back to your browser. A popup, Enter Network Password, opens in another tab, which I just cancelled. The converted document appears in the browser window. Do a File, Save As and cancel the Enter Network Password popup again. I could then save the document to my machine after changing the extension rtf to doc. It only took about 5 minutes, however, there is a limit of 3 pages only. This online service worked without any hitches after I figured out I needed to deal with the popup. After my experience with this online conversion I think that Zamzar would probably have worked if I had converted to rtf or txt instead of doc.

I did go back and download PDF2Word Conversion. After some experimenting with the desktop conversion tool's general options, I was able to convert and edit w/in Word. I found it easiest to remove the checkmarks from the boxes on the right.

By the way I went back and tried Zamzar again, converting pdf to both rtf and txt. It worked, but I didn't find it any easier to edit than when I had converted to doc. It's much harder to convert pdf to doc than it is to convert doc to pdf when using online or free tools.


On to converting doc to pdf. Now I could go back and try some of the other suggestions. In the meantime I had gotten an email from a peer (thanks Liz) in which she recommended PDF Creator. It required a download and installation. PDFCreator is an open source application that can create pdf's from just about any program that prints using windows printers. One just opens the doc file, prints, and when the print dialog appears, change the printer from your default printer to the PDFCreator printer. And wah la...you have a pdf file.

Final summary: Use PDF2Word Online or download PDF2Word Conversion. In the reverse process I only tried the one tool, PDFCreator, but it works quickly and easily.


Maria said...

I use pdffiller.com to fill my documents. I love this tool.

ArborVitae 2.0 said...

I'll have to check it out. Thanks 4 sharing.

Richard said...

You might like to try our free PDF-to-Word service too -- http://www.pdftoword.com.