One common question I often ask these days is how to convert a PDF file to Microsoft Word (doc), Excel (xls) or JPG image format. Usually people want to know how to convert a file to PDF, but it’s also nice to be able to convert back.
There are several ways to convert your PDF to any of these three formats, but I’ll stick to the easiest ways, requiring the least software. You can pretty much do all the conversions online using free tools these days.
Convert PDF to JPG – online tools
Go to ZamZar.com and click the Select Files button to get started. Go ahead and select your PDF and then click OK. Now in step 2, select the file type you want to convert the PDF file to. By default, this field will identify the type of the selected file and provide a list of possible output file types.
You can convert a PDF file like doc or docx file, bmp, jpg, gif or png file, etc. In our case, we will choose JPG from the list. Now enter your email address and click the “Convert” button.
That’s all! In a few minutes, you should receive an email with a link to the converted file. People have complained of significant time lags between clicking the Convert button and receiving the email.
The site seems to be quite busy and if you try to perform the conversion at a very busy time, it may take several hours or even a day or two to receive the converted file.
If that’s not acceptable, they have monthly plans, but if you don’t have to constantly convert PDFs, it’s not worth buying. If you are having problems with Zamzar, you can try another free online PDF to JPG converter:
The end result on both sites was very good, but again, not much needs to be done to convert from PDF to image. It gets more difficult when you need to switch from PDF to Word or Excel.
Convert PDF to JPG – desktop program
The first thing you need to do is download free software (the only one I could find) that will automatically convert PDF documents to JPEG image format.
Go to Omniformat download page and download Omniformat v8.3 and PDF995 app. Before installing Omniformat, you need to download and install PDF995. After installing both programs, go to the Start menu, find the Software995 program group and click Omniformat.
The only annoying thing about this program is that it requires you to watch ads for about 30 seconds! However, this is better than paying $ 20 or $ 40 for a program just to do a simple conversion!
It opens another copy of your browser window for each sponsor’s website, but does not install any spyware on your computer (no pop-up ads).
After downloading the program, you will see that it has a “Watch Folders” section, and then a button at the bottom with the headings “Start Monitoring” and “One-Pass”.
Basically it works like this, that you need to copy the PDF files you want to convert to JPG format into the C: omniformat watch folder and then click Single Pass. The program scans this directory and converts each page of each PDF into a separate JPG file.
If you click “Start Monitoring”, you can keep dragging and dropping PDFs into this folder and the program will automatically convert them to JPEG while the program is open.
Please note that the program is REMOVING the original PDF it is using, so you need to COPY the PDF to the viewing folder, not move it! You should now see the converted files as shown below:
Another desktop program you can use is Free PDF to JPG, which also allows you to convert PDF to BMP, PNG and TIFF formats.
Convert PDF to Word
Again, Zamzar does a great job with this treatment. Select the file and then select DOC or DOCX from the list of options in step 2. Enter your email address for step 3 and click Convert.
Within minutes, you will receive an email with a link to download the converted file. I tried this service out on some fairly complex PDFs with multi-column text, multiple images, etc. and was very impressed with the conversion accuracy.
Again, there are other ways to convert your PDF to Word format. Here are some good free online tools:
If you need a desktop PDF to Word conversion program, you can download it here:
Convert PDF to Excel
For Excel, this is the same process as with Zamzar, which is great if they’re not busy. Previously, you had to convert a PDF file to TXT file and then import it into Excel and save it as XLS or XLSX file. However, it is now updated and Zamzar fully supports the Excel format, so you can select it right in step 2.
Apart from Zamzar, another popular choice is Nitro PDF software, which is also the same company as pdftoword.com mentioned above:
If you have a very complex PDF and the formatting is not converting properly with these free tools, you may need to invest in a commercial software package that could possibly perform better.
For example, there is Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, which lets you convert PDF files to Word, Excel and even Powerpoint files. Of course, this is quite expensive ($ 15 per month) and is probably only worth it if your IT department pays the bill.