PDFs 101: How to Convert PDFs Into Word Docs Easily

how to convert pdfs into word docs easily pdf guide

Converting a Word document to a PDF is one of the easiest things you can do. Converting a PDF to a Word document, though? Not so much.

If you've ever tried to do this for yourself, you know exactly what we're talking about. For the best results, you may have resorted to copying and pasting your text line-by-line from the PDF file into Word. Even this is hardly foolproof, though. Paragraphs and words get split. Graphics and fonts go wonky. 

Sometimes, though, the only way to get what you need is to convert a PDF to a .docx (aka Word) file. How do you work around these formatting issues, then? What is the best way to convert PDFs into Word?

1) Use Adobe Acrobat's Export Tool

If you use Adobe Acrobat as your main PDF program, you're in luck. The new versions of Adobe Acrobat have an "Export PDF" function that makes integrations with Word so much simpler. The only hitch is that, like most of the coolest tools available in Adobe, you need Acrobat DC or Acrobat Pro to access this functionality. Adobe Acrobat Reader won't cut it.

To convert a file in Adobe Acrobat DC or Adobe Acrobat Pro, complete the following steps:

1. Start your Adobe Acrobat program

2. Under Recent, My Computer, or Document Cloud in the left pane, locate the PDF file you want to convert to .docx format

3. Select the Export PDF icon in the right pane

4. In the pop-up window, select Microsoft Word, then select the radio button to the left of Word Document

(Note: If you want to convert your PDF to an older version of Word, then select the radio button to the left of Word 97-2003 Document.)

5. Select the Settings icon (shaped like a gear) to the right of Word Document 

6. In the new pop-up window, select your desired settings
  • If you want the text move so that it better fits the Microsoft Word program defaults, select the radio button to the left of Retain Flowing Text
  • If you want the text to stay exactly where it is, select the radio button to the left of Retain Page Layout
  • Check the boxes to the left of Include Comments and Include Images if you want to retain them in the Word document
  • If you're worried that some of the text in your PDF file may be illegible, check the box to the left of Recognize text if needed
7. Select the Ok button at the bottom of the pop-up window

8. Select the big blue Export button at the bottom of the first pop-up window

9. Save your file

If you want to practice this skill before you try it with your own documents, the Adobe website has some helpful test resources. You can also ask Adobe any questions you have about file conversion.

2) Use an Extension

Machines that don't have Adobe Acrobat or some other PDF file reading software pre-installed will automatically open PDFs in a browser window. Most browsers, including Safari for Macs, have an installable extension you can use to work around the lack of Adobe functionality. 

For example, Google Chrome has the PDFfiller extension. This robust little tool allows you to convert PDF files to other formats, edit PDF file text, and scan in-text codes all from the convenience of Chrome. It also comes with 24/7 tech support.

The only catch is that most of these extensions and add-ons—PDFfiller included—aren't free. You can use the free trial version, but, once the 30 days (or whatever other specified time limit) is up, you'll have to pay the full price.

3) Use an Online Tool

If you don't want to get a paid version of Adobe Acrobat (and you don't want to risk paying for an extension past the free trial deadline), there are numerous other alternatives on the web. A quick Google search of "how to convert PDFs to Word" will yield hundreds of thousands of results. 

We recommend the website PDFtoWord as one of the simplest free tools. It is a one-click solution—all you do is upload your file, and the website does the rest—and it includes a very simple how-to guide for customers with advanced needs. Such needs include image formatting, form controls, and special fonts.

These apps aren't just PC friendly, either. You can also find a plethora of options for converting files on Macs.  

4) Convert PDFs into Word Directly

If all else fails, you can also convert your PDF directly within Microsoft Word. This is the simplest method for PDF conversion, but it's also the messiest. Like copying and pasting, using Word's conversion function can easily lead to twisted formatting and disappearing text. If you don't have internet access or a paid version of Adobe Acrobat, though, this may be the only option you have.

To convert a PDF file directly within Microsoft Word, complete the following steps:

1. Start Microsoft Word
2. Select Open in the left pane
3. Select Browse from the options on the left
4. Select All Files from the bottom-right drop-down menu
5. Navigate to the PDF file you want to convert
6. Select Open
7. Select OK in the pop-up window that appears

Newer versions of Microsoft Word also have an Acrobat tab in the toolbar that integrates with Adobe for even more PDF file functionality. If you already have Adobe Acrobat installed, though, you probably shouldn't take this route for file conversion.

Business Help, Admin Guides, and More

It doesn't take an enormous effort to become a pro at basic office skills. Whether you need to learn about file conversion, web development, digital marketing, or just how to use Microsoft Word, it's all a matter of knowing where to look. Find the right info, and you can be a PDF pro in no time.

For a good headstart on anything else you might need for your business, explore some of our other tech and IT posts. We have got information on everything you need, from computers and software to business equipment.

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