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PDF files are the digital equivalent of the paper document: made to be shared and read, and occasionally filled in like a form, but not really intended to be easily edited. You could argue the format is outdated in our increasingly post-paper world, but PDF documents aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Happily, there are a number of tools that make working with PDFs a lot easier. You can print to PDF to create these files from almost any program, and use your PDF files on Google Drive to make all sorts of features easy.
Next to the industry’s gold standard, Adobe Acrobat Pro, you’ll find a number of free online tools.
Today, Cool Websites and Tools features five sites most people haven’t heard of that make life with PDFs just a little bit easier, starting with a simple way to convert these files. Let’s get started.
Small PDF (Web): Free Convert PDF to Word and More
There is a wide collection of sites out there for modifying and converting PDF files, but many of them are ad-riddled nightmares (that occasionally, shudder, require Java). Small PDF stands out because it’s clean and doesn’t require any plugins to run.
This isn’t going to replace full-featured solutions like Adobe Acrobat, but great if you just need to accomplish one-off tasks quickly. Common tasks like compressing, splitting and merging PDFs are simple. But perhaps more interesting are the conversions
Some things are easy; some are complicated. Converting a static PDF to an editable Word file, for example, is way more complicated than you might assume (and basically impossible if you want everything to look exactly the same). Knowing this, I decided to try my hand at converting an old MakeUseOf manual. The results weren’t perfect, but way better than I expected.
You can see a few inconsistencies, but for the most part everything is where it should be. So if you need to turn a PDF into a Word file, give this site a shot.
I Love PDF: Various PDF Editing Tools
Small PDF offered lots of tools for converting PDFs to other file types; I Love PDF specializes in the opposite. You can turn Word, Powerpoint, and JPG files into PDFs quickly.
There’s also tools for adding watermarks and page numbers to PDFs, and a compress option if you need to shrink PDF files. Bookmarking this site and Small PDF gives you a pretty complete PDF converting toolkit with a few editing tools, so keep them both in mind.
PDFy: Quickly Share Any PDF File, Complete with Previews
There are a few ways to publish your PDFs online, but most of them require an account for uploading. If you’d like a simple upload-and-share alternative, sort of like Imgur but for PDFs, PDYy is a great go-to.
The upload button on the site doesn’t work as of this writing, but you can submit PDFs by email. The site is free and doesn’t have ads, meaning it needs donations to keep running.
Paperjet: Fill In PDFs Online
Have you ever been sent a PDF to fill in, only to realize it’s not a form? The expectation may be that you’ll print the form and fill it in with a pen, like some sort of 1500’s peasant, before scanning it back in.
That’s not how you want to do things, of course, which is why Paperjet is here to save you from that indignity (and save other humans from your handwriting). Upload any form to Paperjet and you can fill it in with your computer, as God intended. You can even add your signature.
Basically, this brings all the features Mac users get in Preview to Windows and Linux users. The service is free for up to 10 uploads a month, after which you’ll need to pay $5/month or $50/year.
Uberflip eBook Generator: Turn PDFs Into an Interactive Online eBook (Uses Flash)
You made a beautiful PDF document; now you want to embed it on your website, in a way that’s more interactive than a file download. There’s even a neat page-turning function.
There’s a pretty big downside here: Adobe Flash. The page-turny flip books you get from this service seem like a natural fit for mobile devices, but Uberflip’s mobile interface was kind of underwhelming and tiny in our tests. So this is in many ways a gimmicky relic of a bygone era, but a somewhat enjoyable relic I’m sure a few of you will like.
What Are Your Go-To Online PDF Tools?
What great online PDF tools do you use and love? Let’s compile even more resources in the comments below, okay?