PDFs are standard documents because they’re readily viewed the same way by all parties. Due to their specific design, they aren’t edit-friendly. Of course, in some cases, the sender doesn’t want them edited.
To make life easier, you can convert your PDF to a Word document format. Luckily, you don’t need Microsoft Word to make the conversion. In this guide, we’ll walk you through a few of the ways you can convert PDFs to Word documents.
Converting with Adobe Acrobat
Using Acrobat is the best way to make sure your conversion’s formatting is as accurate as possible. However, you’ll need the paid version of Acrobat to use this method. Adobe currently offers a free, seven-day trial of Adobe Acrobat Document Cloud (DC), which you can use for one-time conversions.
Note: This trial is designed to prevent you from signing up for it repeatedly, so think of it as a one-time-only option.
If you need to make conversions on a regular basis, you’ll want to pay for the full version, which runs approximately $15 a month with an annual commitment, or as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud package.
Step 1: Open the PDF you’d like to convert in Adobe Acrobat. Depending on your preferences, PDF files may automatically open in Acrobat.
Step 2: In the right-hand pane, look for Export PDF. Click it.
Step 3: Click on Microsoft Word, which will currently present you with format choices: Word 97-2003 (.doc) and Word 2013-2016 (.docx). If you go with a .docx file, you can hit the settings cog and set additional options, such as the ability to retain flowing text or the PDF format. Choose your ideal format and settings, and click the Export button.
Step 4: Adobe will automatically run text recognition for any scanned text during this step. The text recognition doesn’t always work, but for most legible text, it’s an ideal solution. Keep in mind that you may need to do some quick reformatting in your new Word doc afterward.
Step 5: Name your new Word file and save it in your desired location.
Converting with Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word is a great, free way to convert PDFs to Word documents — if you have Office already. The formatting doesn’t always line up and the text may not be exact. If you have Acrobat or don’t mind trying a web-based converter, we suggest trying another option if the formatting is unusable. After all, other solutions may be more accurate.
Step 1: To begin, launch Word and click File. This will launch a new window: Look at the menu bar on the left, where the File options are. Select Open.
Step 2: At first, the Open screen will only show you the recent Word documents that you have accessed on that computer, and will not show any PDFs. If you look below Recent, you will see options to look for documents in Personal (OneDrive files) and Other locations (your local hard drive, etc.). Select one of these, and now Word should show you both Word and PDF files found in that location. You can also just select Browse to locate your PDF.
Step 3: Select the PDF you want to convert, just like opening a Word file. Word will then bring up a notification that lets you know it’s going to convert the PDF to an editable Word document. It may take some time, and it may not look exactly like the PDF due to formatting differences, etc. If all that is all right, select OK.
Step 4: Word will then transfer the document into a Word file and open it. Take a look at the formatting and make sure you can edit the document as you want without graphics or text behaving strangely. If everything works, you’re good to go!
Although they don’t all have conversion tools, these are the best Microsoft Office alternatives.
Converting with web apps
There are a number of web-based services that you can use to convert PDF files to Word files. If you don’t have immediate access to Acrobat or Word, then you may want to try one of the freemium programs listed below. Simply upload your file, pick your preferred conversion method, and start the process. These apps can send the PDFs to a variety of places, from email to cloud storage.
This converter will email the Word file to an address of your own choosing, which may be useful when collaborating on projects for business or school. There is a free online service you can use to get a Word file emailed to you, but you can also download the software and use the 14-day free trial.
FormSwift PDF Editor is easy to use. You can use this editor to open a PDF and export it as a DocX file. The editor will let you make changes to your document before converting it if needed. If you’re happy to sign up for a free trial account too, you can even email the resulting files to yourself or a collaborative partner.
Smallpdf is fast, simple, and free — all things you want in a handy web app. Smallpdf also lets you upload from, and export directly to, cloud storage solutions like Dropbox or Google Drive. Smallpdf deletes any uploaded file from the servers after one hour for privacy.
LightPDF is your one-stop shop for all your document conversions. Not only does it convert your PDF into a Word file, but it also can convert it into a PNG, JPG, PPT, and TXT. It will also convert your doc back into a PDF. LightPDF is a great option because it’s free and user-friendly. LightPDF guarantees total security of your uploaded documents.