We love tools. And tricks. And treats. Oh wait, that’s a different post! Seriously, we’re messing with documents on a regular basis (or at least I am, since my job is to keep everyone else – and our clients – not only looking good, but sane). And one thing I’m asked about on a regular basis is for resources that that make working with PDF documents easier.
Most small business owners don’t need the full all-access Adobe software enough to justify the $449 price tag, so other, less expensive solutions, are always in demand. Sound like something you’ve encountered before? Read on …
Sometimes what you need is simple – like needing to extract a page from an existing PDF file, merge several PDF files into one or to convert a PDF into a Word document so edits can be made. Here are some tools that you’ll really like.
Extracting Pages from a PDF
For the simple task of extracting a page or range of pages from an existing PDF document, the tool that we like best is SplitPDF. The end result of the process will give you a new document with only the pages you enter in Step 2. If you have pages that are not in sequential order, then you will have to re-merge them.
- Upload desired file
- Enter in page(s) to be extracted
- Download the file
Merge and Combine PDF Files
This free tool to combine PDF files operates in exact reverse of the one listed above. The steps are nearly identical to merge your two (or more) PDF files into one.
- Select the desired files from their location (hold down the CTRL key to select multiple files at one time)
- Merge PDF
- Download the new file
Converting a PDF to a Word (or Excel) Document
Adobe Pro used to allow you to convert for free but always had mixed results, which is what led us to seek – and ultimately find – another, better solution. Now Adobe charges for this service and, although not very expensive, without knowing if the paid version is better than what was previously available at no charge, it’s hard to justify forking over money. If you’re using the paid service and like it, do let us know!
There are a number of free tools out there that will allow you to do these kinds of conversions, but they don’t all deliver the same results. Each of them has nearly identical features, but there are vastly different conversion results. For instance, some of the services convert text to images, which isn’t useful if you’re looking to make actual text edits.
Our favorite, because they have the most reliable conversion results, is Nitro’s PDF to Word. Nitro’s service is cloud-based so there’s no software to download and no need to worry if it’s Mac or PC compatible. You simply upload the desired file, provide an email address where you can have the finished results delivered and you’re on your way. In most instances, you’ll have the converted file in your inbox within about 10 minutes.
Nitro’s PDF to Excel tool will work to convert a PDF into Excel. However, it’s pretty much only useful if the document you have is in a table format, as images and graphics in the original document do not seem to come over.
One important note, if the PDF document you’re wanting to convert is secured with a password, forget about it. In most instances, none of these tools will help and you’re on your own!
Hopefully these free resources for manipulating PDF files will be useful for you. If you know of others that work well, we’d love to have you share them in the comments below.