Two Free Ways To Make Your PDF Files Editable [OS X Tips]

Two Free Ways To Make Your PDF Files Editable [OS X Tips]

Great options for free PDF document conversion.

PDF files are pretty much just pictures of documents. In point of fact, many of them are just that – scanned paper documents that are put into the PDF format, as it’s a fairly common one with free tools on all platforms. But what if you want to edit those PDF files? Or save them in a format that makes them easier to manage, like .doc or .docx files? There are many expensive options, like the fantastic Abbyy Fine Reader Express, available in the Mac App Store, but there are also two free, relatively painless ways to do this as well. Here’s how.

The first way is an online option. Head on over to ZamZar.com with your PDF in hand, well, on your computer. Step one, choose the PDF file from your computer. Step two, choose the document format you want to convert to. Notice there are many options to convert to, including epub and html. Choose doc or docx for this example. Step three is to enter your email address, and Step four involves clicking on the Convert button. You’ll get a nice email with a link to download your file in the format you specified in step two above.

The second way to convert your PDF file to something more editable is with Google Docs. Login to your Google Docs account (yours may now be called Drive), and click on the upload icon next to the orange Create button. Choose Files from the resulting pop up menu, and then select the PDF you want to convert. You may need to click on the Settings for uploads in the window that appears. Be sure to check both Convert uploaded files and Convert text boxes for best results.

The file will now show up in your list of Google documents. Click on the name of the document and let it open. Once open in the Google Docs editing windwo, click the File menu, then Download as. Choose the format you like best, including .doc, .docx, .rtf, or even just .txt.

As with any scanning option, the layout of the resulting file will be closer to the original the less complex the original document is, so be sure to try it out on something before you’re rushing off to that important meeting with a converted PDF file that has tons of funky fonts and pictures.

Related
  • mr_bee

    Considering, as you say, that PDF’s are mostly just a bunch of scanned pages, the only “editing” you can do is re-ordering the pages or deleting/adding pages or merging two files in one etc. All of which is both possible and easier to do right in Preview on the Mac. You might have included instructions for that as well.

    You also can’t really convert those same PDF’s into word documents in the way you describe. It’s not like it’s going to do OCD on the images inside the PDF. It will just save it as a word doc with giant pictures for pages.

  • Rob LeFebvre

    You also can’t really convert those same PDF’s into word documents in the way you describe. It’s not like it’s going to do OCD on the images inside the PDF. It will just save it as a word doc with giant pictures for pages.

    I think it does, in fact, OCR the pages, especially if you check the option in Google Docs to convert text boxes. Give it a try and see.

  • dcj001

    Considering, as you say, that PDF’s are mostly just a bunch of scanned pages, the only “editing” you can do is re-ordering the pages or deleting/adding pages or merging two files in one etc. All of which is both possible and easier to do right in Preview on the Mac. You might have included instructions for that as well.

    You also can’t really convert those same PDF’s into word documents in the way you describe. It’s not like it’s going to do OCD on the images inside the PDF. It will just save it as a word doc with giant pictures for pages.

    Have you tried doing it yet, or are you just guessing?

  • ElwoodP

    “PDF files are pretty much just pictures of documents.”
    Are they?! This seems like a terribly inadequate description of what a PDF is.

  • lutsen

    We created a free online tool to create editable PDF’s. If you put square brackets around the text you want to make editable and upload the PDF, anyone you want can edit the text between the square brackets. Its called PDF Panda: http://www.pdfpanda.net

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Games and Tips Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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