If you want to turn a FLAC into an MP3 or a PDF into a Doc, you don’t need to download fancy software. Just fire up your browser, head to one of these websites, and you’ll be done in a jiffy. And completely free too!
Web apps are far safer than installing software that can carry malware with it. Plus, by avoiding installations, you don’t need to decrap your computer or uninstall stuff from your Mac. So if you need to convert a file, here’s the ultimate list of sites you should turn to.
Convert Anything to Anything: Zamzar
One of the oldest and most popular tools for online conversions, Zamzar supports over 1200 different conversion formats. You can safely convert audio files, video files, documents, images, and much more. Just make sure it’s under 100MB in size.
When you add a file, it will analyze the extension and then show you the different file formats it can be converted to. Conveniently, Zamzar also lets you add a URL to directly convert a file.
Zamzar’s interface is simple and it also has the option to send you an email notification, which is a handy way to send the file’s link to a friend. And all of it without having to sign up!
Convert Cloud-Based Files: Cloud Convert
There are two limitations in Zamzar that make Cloud Convert worth a dekko. First, if you sign up for the free account, you can convert files of up to 1GB. Second, you can hook up Cloud Convert to cloud storage like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box and OneDrive to automatically upload and download files from those accounts. It’s a good way to make use of free cloud storage space.
While Cloud Convert supports only 208 file formats compared to Zamzar’s 1200+, it covers most of the formats you will use regularly, including common image, audio, video and office-suite formats. The interface also looks modern and more appealing than Zamzar.
If you live on the Internet, then Cloud Convert is the tool to sign up for, while using Zamzar when your file formats aren’t supported.
Advanced Media Conversion: Online-Convert
Both Zamzar and Cloud Convert would be the preferred choices if you want a quick conversion. However, if you have specific needs while changing your media file formats, Online-Convert is a better resource.
It supports all of the major audio, video and image formats as other services, but while converting, it gives you several options to refine your needs. For example, you know that audio bitrate is important for quality, but when you’re turning a FLAC file into an MP3, it defaults to 128kb/s or 192kb/s — significantly lower than the higher quality of a FLAC file. If you want to specifically convert that FLAC file into a 320kb/s MP3, then Online-Convert is the way to go.
You can even change the sampling rate, audio channels, or trim the file. Similarly, the service offers granular controls for videos (including rotation and mirroring) and images. Plus, you can upload files directly from Dropbox or Google Drive.
The only catch is that the free account supports file uploads up to 100MB. For anything more, you’ll need a paid Online-Convert account.
Convert To and From PDF: Small PDF
PDF files can be difficult to handle. You usually can’t edit them, so you need to convert them to formats for programs like Word, PowerPoint and so on. You also can’t combine two PDFs into one easily, or just take out one page or so. All of these actions usually need specialized software, but Small PDF dispenses the need for that.
At Small PDF, you can convert a PDF into JPEG, a Word file, an Excel file or a PowerPoint file. Similarly, you can convert all those into PDFs too.
Importantly, you can also convert the PDF into PDF, so as to compress the PDF and reduce file size. Small PDF also supports splitting and merging two different PDF files. And it does it all with the simplest user interface possible.
Convert Images to Text: Google Docs
OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, is the ability for the computer to “read” an image and turn the words written in it into editable text in a simple Doc file. The best tool to convert images to text online? Good old Google Drive!
Head to your Google Drive, click the cog wheel icon, click “Settings”, and tick the box for “Convert Uploads”. As the box explains, this converts uploaded files to Google Docs. Upload an image or PDF to your Google Drive, right-click it in your Drive, and choose Open With > Google Docs. You’ll now see the image, along with its OCR transcript below it.
It’s one of the best tips for PDF files in Google Drive, but it only works for files up to 2MB and with the first 10 pages. With images, again, you get up to 2MB and the image has to be JPG, GIF or PNG.
In case you need to convert a larger file or more than 10 pages, I suggest you compress or split your PDF using the aforementioned Small PDF. Google Drive’s OCR is the best out of all the free online options.
Convert Fonts: Online Font Converter
Your Mac vs. Windows vs. Linux hatred is irrelevant, but three operating systems use very different file types. While you can’t use an EXE on Mac or a DEB on Windows, at least you can get your favorite font in the operating system of your choice. All you need is a free font converter.
Now, Cloud Convert offers to let you convert a few basic fonts, but not all. In fact, the most difficult thing is to get a font in a PDF format from a designer and turn it into a usable font. That’s where Online Font Converter comes in.
The service is completely free and converts fonts to/from: pdf, dfont, eot, otf, pfb, tfm, pfm, suit, svg, ttf, pfa, bin, pt3, ps, t42, cff, afm, ttc, woff, woff2, ufo. Just select the output format you want, upload your files, and you’ll get a zipped download that you can then extract to install fonts on Windows, Mac, or Linux.
Word of advice: Go with Open Type or True Type as your output. Those are recognized perfectly by all operating systems; Open Type is even supported by Android and iOS!
Convert Subtitles: Subtitle Fix
We’ve told you how to rip your DVDs and Blu-Rays, but what about the subtitles? You won’t get a perfect SRT or SMI file each time; and while you can find subtitles online, those might not perfectly sync with your movie. Yet, apps like Plex and Kodi will only accept subtitles in certain formats.
Don’t worry, Subtitlefix will do the heavy lifting. In fact, even if you find subtitles online and want to change them to fit your video’s frame rate, shift their timing to better sync with your movie, or turn two-disc subtitles into a single file, this is your go-to resource. It does it all and it’s ridiculously easy.
Convert GPS Codes: GPS Babel
The world of GPS is a lot more complicated than you think. Did you even know that there are several different GPS file formats? The file that a dedicated GPS device uses is different from what you would need to do cool things with Google Earth.
GPX and KML are the two most popular file formats, but there are several others. GPX is a globally accepted standard with a vast amount of information stored in the file. KML is what Google Earth uses for its readings. And when you want to convert one to another, GPS Babel is your friend.
GPS Babel gives you file formats for specific GPS devices, which is the coolest part, so you know it will definitely work on your hardware. The mother site, GPS Visualizer, also offers more tools for specific purposes:
- If you want advanced control, try GPS Visualizer Converter.
- If you want Google Earth output, try the Google Earth mapping form.
- If you want Google Maps output, try the Google Maps mapping form.
Horses for courses, folks.
Convert to Animated GIFs: EzGIF, Imgur VidGif
If you want to speak the Internet’s language of GIFs, you will need to learn how to make your own animated GIFs. Whether it’s a video on your hard drive or a GIF you want to compress, one of the best places to create GIFs is EzGIF.
Just upload your file, set the animation speed and size of your GIF, and the service will do the rest. You can then download the GIF to your computer and use it anywhere. EzGIF also lets you add text, optimize or compress the GIF (so it fits on Twitter), crop and edit it, and much more.
However, EzGIF doesn’t have a way to let you directly take an online video clip from YouTube or Vimeo and turn one section into a GIF. For that, you need VidGIF, one of the new features in Imgur.
VidGIF is dead simple. Copy-paste your link, choose a start and end time, add text if you desire, and create a GIF. However, you have no control on the size or speed, so you might need to download the GIF you create and then run it through EzGIF for advanced editing.
Any Other Good Converters?
Which other good online converters do you know? There are probably file formats for specialized software that aren’t covered here. For example, I couldn’t find an online convert to turn a QXD QuarkXpress file into a PDF. Or for that matter, a converter that lets me upload large MKV files of 3 gigabytes or more.
Do you know of a good converter that we missed? Share it below!