PDFs Made Easy

March 1st, 2004 APC, Software, Tech

Unlock the magic and mysteries of PDF files at the touch of a button.

In order to properly extract everything out of a PDF file with more or less 100% accuracy, you need Acrobat Professional. That’s an investment of more than money. It won’t only cost you between seven and eight hundred dollars, you’ll have the hassle of learning a new piece of software.

Coming somewhat to the rescue, US Developer Scansoft has released a single-click solution to recreate a PDF with the world’s most used piece of software — Microsoft Word. PDF Converter is their new productivity tool/plug-in that ‘converts’ PDF files to fully laid out, editable Word documents.

It works in four ways. Through Microsoft Word’s Open dialogue, you can open a PDF like it were any other text file and it’ll start converting. You can also right-click on a PDF somewhere on your system and select the ‘Open in Word option’. Right clicking on a link in your web browser that leads to a PDF bring up the same option. And if you receive a PDF attachment through Microsoft Outlook (not Express), a handy button sets the conversion in motion with one click.

It all sounds great for less than a hundred bucks — including the ability to covert foreign languages — and in only minutes instead of hours or retyping or cutting and pasting.

As you usually get what you pay for however, there are limits. Big, complicated PDF that had been produced with page layout programs weren’t handled well, in most cases producing no result apart from a text extraction error message. It also doesn’t like tab characters very much — anything graphical done with the text in a PDF (as opposed to separate graphic elements) like mathematical equations came out a jumble.

But when dealing with straight, plain text in paragraphs of columns with nothing fancy, PDF Converter worked a treat, putting pictures mostly in the right place, ably recreating text and paragraph formatting and indeed saving you time and money spent retyping documents.

If you work in a field where you access a lot of legal, academic or corporate documents with a minimum of design flourish, it’s well worth the price tag.

Verdict ”’

Full client and publication list:

  • 3D Artist
  • APC
  • AskMen.com
  • Auscam
  • Australian Creative
  • Australian Macworld
  • Australian Way (Qantas)
  • Big Issue
  • Black Velvet Seductions
  • Black+White
  • Bookseller & Publisher
  • Box Magazine
  • Brain World
  • Business News
  • Business NSW
  • Campaign Brief
  • Capture
  • CHUD.com
  • Cleo
  • Cosmos
  • Cream
  • Curve
  • Daily Telegraph
  • Dark Horizons
  • Dazed and Confused
  • Desktop
  • DG
  • Digital Media
  • Disney Magazine
  • DNA Magazine
  • Empire
  • Empty Magazine
  • Famous Monsters of Filmland
  • Fast Thinking
  • FHM UK
  • Film Stories
  • Filmink
  • Follow Gentlemen
  • Geek Magazine
  • Good Reading
  • Good Weekend
  • GQ
  • How It Works
  • Hydrapinion
  • Inside Film
  • Internet.au
  • Loaded
  • M2 Magazine
  • Marie Claire Australia
  • Marketing
  • Maxim Australia
  • Men's Style
  • Metro
  • Moviehole
  • MSN
  • Nine To Five
  • Paranormal
  • PC Authority
  • PC Powerplay
  • PC Update
  • PC User
  • PC World
  • Penthouse
  • People
  • Pixelmag
  • Popular Science
  • Post Magazine
  • Ralph
  • Reader's Digest
  • ScienceNetwork WA
  • SciFiNow
  • Scoop
  • Scoop Traveller
  • Seaside Observer
  • SFX
  • Sydney Morning Herald
  • The Australian
  • The Retiree
  • The Sun Herald
  • The West Australian
  • thevine.com.au
  • TimeOut
  • Total Film
  • Video Camera
  • Video&Filmmaker
  • Writing Magazine
  • Xpress
  • Zoo