Sometimes however, the format you’d hoped would be available isn’t. Microsoft recognizes this and has made it possible to convert PDF to Word since Office 2007. Adobe also has this feature available in Acrobat X Pro, but unlike Office, Acrobat isn’t software that most users have access to. Fortunately, some free utilities have stepped in to fill the void.
This lightweight conversion tool is quick to download and install and only takes a hair over 5 megabytes of disk space, which means it will easily fit onto portable drives. Converting files is quite easy, as they can be dragged-and-dropped into the utility’s window. Press the convert button and presto! You have yourself a Word document.
The accuracy of this converter is adequate when handling simple documents, but more complex PDF files with images aligned close to text can trip it up. For example, the manuals that we publish will have some errors when converted with this tool. Still, its tiny size makes it a handy portable utility.
If you have access to the Internet you can try Nitro PDF to Word, an online tool that can be accessed through your web browser. Like many online conversion tools, it’s simple to use. You only need to provide Nitro PDF to Word with the document and your email address, and Nitro will then email the converted document to you.
I found Nitro PDF to Word mostly accurate. It sometimes did not convert all text in a paragraph to the same font or same font size, but actual text errors were few and images came through without issue. The email containing the converted DOC file arrived within 30 seconds of my submission.
Just one note – I’d be leery about sending anything through Nitro PDF to Word that’s supposed to be confidential. I’m not saying the site is known to be untrustworthy, but care should be taken when supplying any third party with private data.
Part of gDoc Fusion, gDoc Creator is a file conversion tool that has supported PDF to DOC conversion for years. Although gDoc Fusion isn’t free after the 30-day trial, you can keep using gDoc Creator for PDF to DOC conversion free of charge.
Of the numerous utilities I tried, gDoc Creator was the most accurate overall, though it just barely beat Nitro Word to PDF. It handled all three of the documents I used to test the conversion utilities with virtually no errors, and those that did slip through were minor. In addition to this, gDoc offers three different types of conversion, placing emphasis on different priorities such as text flow or page layout.
However, the gDoc download came in at a beefy 102MB for the zipped file, which makes this utility a bit of a heavyweight. Of course, this is due to the fact that we’re using just one feature of a much larger and more complex suite. There are also several optional features that can be selected during install, such as a Word toolbar. I suggest foregoing these unless you plan to use the software’s other features.
These three utilities provide a good range of options. Free PDF to Word seemed the least accurate, but it was still usable and it’s very light. Nitro PDF to Word is online and accurate, so it will be handy if you’re not on your regular PC. Then we have gDoc, which is large download, but very accurate.
It’s your choice. They all do the job, but are better for different situations. As always, let us know in the comments if you know of a great tool to convert PDF to Word that isn’t listed here.