Last updated: Jun. 7, 2017
There are many ways to convert a PDF document to any file formats you want, such as by using online conversion services or desktop PDF converter software.
While online PDF conversion services are handy and convenient, they are without drawbacks — primary concern is security, followed by inefficiency.
That's why we prefer to use desktop software for this purpose. In this article, we're going to review the best PDF converter software that runs on Windows PCs (the 2017 edition).
Whether you need to convert a PDF into Word or any other formats, or you want to convert scanned PDF files and make them editable, you can also use software to boost productivity.
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**Below, you'll find our expert reviews of these best PDF conversion tools. But you can also click the links above to learn more each software or get it directly.
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When & Why You Need a PDF Converter Software?
PDF, short for Portable Document Format, offers many advantages over other file types. Viewing them is one thing, being able to work with them is another. The reason why PDF files are usually difficult to deal with is that they are basically images and look familiar. In short, there are a lot of restrictions if you want to tweak them around. Chances are you receive many PDF files and when you use a PDF reader to view them, you may want to make some changes such as extract a data graph, add a few words, insert an image, etc. to the source files. This is how things become a bit troublesome.
Fortunately, there is a broad range of great PDF conversion solutions available in the market that make working PDFs much more pleasant. In general, these solutions fall into the following two categories:
- Online PDF conversion services: basically such online tools allow you to upload a PDF file to their server, and in a few seconds or minutes, an exported version will be available for download. This option is quick and convenient. It's best to use when you only need to convert a few PDFs and the content in the files are not super private or confidential. Disadvantages include: you don't know where your uploaded files are stored, conversion quality is relatively low compared to that of desktop software, etc.
- Desktop PDF converter software: you'll need to download and install it on your computer before using it. Once installed, you can use it without Internet connection (unlike online tools). That means your converted documents are more secure, and you're in control of all of them. Also, the conversion quality tends to be higher. Plus, you get customer support for any questions you might have.
In this article, we are going to take a further look at some of the best software. But first, read out the factors we use to narrow down the choices.
Best PDF Converter Software in 2017: Evaluation Criteria
File Formats — PDFs are sometimes stubborn to deal with, that's why you want to convert them into other formats. The PDF converter you chose should support exporting source PDFs into all common file formats such as Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, text, image, etc.
Conversion Quality — This has something to do with how accurate the software is in handling different objects in a PDF file. The PDF converter you choose should be able to retain all the formatting from the source PDF files, so you won't lose any data and everything is intact and editable.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) — The ability to apply OCR technology is extremely important if your PDF files are scanned images. OCR is capable of extracting the text in the scanned PDFs and exporting them into actual, readable texts. Then you can search for or edit any text in converted files much like you would be using a word processor.
Conversion Speed — Obviously you don't want to spend half an hour simply waiting for the conversion process to complete. A powerful PDF converter program should be able to quickly handle your conversion requests and export converted files instantly.
Batch/Partial Conversion — Sometimes you may just want to convert a few pages in a PDF files, other times you may have a bunch of files to be converted to different formats. In these situations, the PDF converter you choose should have batch and partial converting related features.
Overall Design — Working with PDF files is tough enough as it is. The PDF converter you go for should offer a clean user interface with easy to understand instructions so that you can complete your work easily and efficiently.
Compatibility — The software you choose should also run on all PCs with modern Windows operating systems, including latest Windows 10. Also, it should allow you to export PDFs into file formats that can be opened in third-party apps.
Price — The price range for PDF converters is very broad, ranging from free of cost to hundreds of dollars. Adobe Acrobat is great, but the price you need to pay is a bit to the extent — $300 flat fee (or you go for the subscription model). You need to consider price when balancing the features a software offers against your individual or business needs.
Help/Support — Last but not least, you should also consider if the provider offers quality customer support. This is important because it's inevitable you can have questions or concerns while using the software. It would be ideal if you can reach out to their customer support and they get back to you quickly with desired answers.
The Best PDF Converter Software in 2016: Our Recommendations
We've got three great options for your choice. The programs below have been tested by our team, and they are 100% clean and virus-free. Also, all of them are compatible with latest Windows 10 and previous OS versions. Note: if you are on a Mac, see our reviews of PDF Converter for Mac.
Wondershare PDF Converter Pro
Wondershare PDF Converter is an all-in-one program that allows you to convert PDFs to a variety of other files including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, EPUB, HTML, and images (in JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, TIFF format). The PRO version integrates OCR technology that allows you to convert any scanned PDF files that are basically images. Besides, you can use it to create PDF documents from almost any formats. There are a few more features like PDF combine/split, add/remove the password to PDFs, etc. which you'll find useful as well.
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Soda PDF 8 is another great PDF converter software for PCs. Its interface is quite similar to the Microsoft Office PowerPoint style — with every feature being clearly laid out in the pane, extremely easy to use. We are impressed by the long list of features it has, comparable to what Adobe Acrobat offers. But it's way more affordable than Acrobat. Also, what's unique about the software is that it has a convenient online browser-based version, that means you can drag any PDFs to the plugin and convert them quickly.
Nuance Power PDF
Nuance is more than a PDF converter, but a great PDF editor as well. That's why it's priced higher than other alternatives. What impressed us most about Nuance is that the program is extremely sleek and easy to use. You can drag and drop any PDFs file to the pane and convert it into Word, Excel, Powerpoint, JPG, TIF, XPS pages, and more within a few clicks. By the way, its PDF collaboration and editing features are solid. The voice-controlled note taking is unique and really cool.
Chris is a computer geek for a decade. He loved talking to computers via codes, and now he finds it more interesting communicating with the real people. He now writes everything related to computer issues and loves helping people solve problems.