Ever been frustrated by a PDF file? It’s funny how the PDF file format is so prevalently used, yet for most of us, it causes a lot of undue stress. Reading a PDF is easy enough. Creating and editing a PDF file is a big harder since the process isn’t as straightforward as it could be. But if you want to do anything more than that, you may find yourself stuck.
Fortunately, the Web is full of awesome little tools that can help you alter PDF files without breaking a sweat. We won’t be covering any of the common PDF tasks, like creating, editing, or printing. Rather, let’s look at lesser known PDF tasks that may come in handy for you.
Are you diligent with your PC security habits? It’s a known truth that viruses and malware can hide inside common file formats such as EXE and ZIP, but many people overlook the fact that PDFs can also be malicious. All it takes is for you to open an infected PDF with an unsecure reader. Sounds annoying, doesn’t it?
That’s where Jotti shines. Upload your file to the website and it’ll scan through the file with 20+ different malware scanners, looking for any potential threats hiding within. The process is simple enough that it only takes a few seconds, making it fast and convenient to use for every PDF you ever encounter.
Suppose you want to extract a passage of text from a PDF file. Some readers can handle that with ease, but sometimes, for one reason or another, text extraction can be a real nuisance.
One option is to use an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) tool, which scans each letter in the file and converts it into text – it sounds similar to directly converting a PDF into DOCX but it’s a slightly different process.
With Online OCR, you simply upload the file (5 MB max size), select the language of the file, and select an output format (TXT, DOCX, or XLSX). The result is a file that’s stripped of most extraneous details, leaving nothing but text.
Without an account, only the first page of the PDF will be scanned. If you register a free account, you get a few more features: multi-page text extractions, extra output formats, extra recognition languages, and more. By default over 40 languages are supported, including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
If Online OCR isn’t enough for your needs, you may find better luck with these three free OCR tools instead.
Have you ever had two versions of the same file and wondered what exactly changed between the two? Inspired by the DIFF utility on Unix systems, Diff Now is a web tool that lets you upload two files and compare the differences between them on a line-by-line basis. Differences are categorized as Added, Deleted, and Changed text.
In addition to PDF files, the tool also supports Microsoft documents, source code for dozens of languages, and even some archive formats.
There are many tools out there for saving a webpage locally so that you never lose it, even when the webpage itself goes down. However, one fast and simple way to do that is to use HTML to PDF, an online tool that takes a URL and converts it into a downloadable PDF.
Unfortunately, this tool may be blocked on some networks for its ability to act as a web proxy and avoid certain web filters. (If a certain site is blocked, HTML to PDF could be used to download the page and see what’s on it.)
If you need to quickly limit access to a PDF, PDF Protect makes it easy to encrypt files with a password. What’s great about this tool is that the protection isn’t limited to simple password-protection; you can set varying permission levels to limit what users can do with the file.
Can users insert, delete, or rotate pages? Should users be able to copy or edit text and images in the file? Do you want to limit printing quality? Should the file’s metadata be encrypted? It only takes a few seconds to set up these options. PDF protection has never been this easy.
PDF Unlock claims to “remove passwords and restrictions from secured PDF files,” though that may be a bit misleading depending on what you want. If you have a password-protected or otherwise restricted PDF file, PDF Unlock will remove those passwords and restrictions from the file but you’ll need the proper passwords to do it.
If you’re looking for a tool that will blindly strip away restrictions without needing the passwords at all, this is NOT the tool you want. In other words, it will revert a protected PDF into an unprotected PDF as long as you have the clearance to do so. Don’t get me wrong, though: this is still a nifty tool to know and it removes the nuisance of repeatedly keying in a password.
This last tool is one that will save you a lot of hard drive space over time. PDF Compress takes an uploaded PDF, performs a number of optimizations on it, then offers the compressed version back to you for free download.
If you’re wondering about its effectiveness, just know that it reduced one of the PDF ebooks in my library from 1.5 MB to 1.0 MB for a savings of 33%. The tool will save more space on image-heavy PDFs than text-heavy PDFs, though it will save you space either way.
Did you find these helpful? How often do you tinker around with PDFs? Will you be using these online tools in the future? If you know of any others that are similar, please share them with us in the comments below!