There are many ways to convert a PDF document to your desired format, for example, using an online conversion service, or a desktop PDF converter software.
While online PDF conversion services are handy and convenient, they are without concerns, e.g. content privacy/security as you need to upload your files to the developer’s server.
That’s why we prefer to use desktop software. In this roundup review, we’re going to show you a list of our recommended PDF converter software for a Windows PC. Whether you want to convert a PDF into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or you want to make a scanned PDF file editable, they should help.
Our Top Recommendations
Below, you’ll find our detailed reviews of the best PDF conversion tools. But you can also click the links above to learn more about our recommendations.
Using an Apple Mac machine? You can also check out our Mac PDF converter app review.
Do You Need PDF Converter Software?
PDF, short for Portable Document Format, is probably the most popular file format used for business purposes. While viewing and opening a PDF is one thing, being able to work with it is another. The reason why PDF files are difficult to deal with is that they are basically images — meaning there are many 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 also want to make some changes to the file such as extracting a data graph, adding a few words, inserting an image, to the source files. This is when things can become a bit troublesome, and why you may need a PDF converting program.
Fortunately, there is a long list of PDF conversion solutions available in the market that can make working PDFs much more easier. In general, these solutions fall into two categories:
1. Online PDF conversion services: they are basically web tools that 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. Online conversion is quick and convenient. It’s best to use when you only need to convert a few PDFs and the content in the files is not so private or confidential. Disadvantages include: you usually don’t know where your uploaded files are going to be stored or whether it will be erased properly without leaving traces, conversion quality is relatively low compared to that of desktop software, etc.
2. Desktop PDF converter software: first of all, you’ll need to download and install such software on your computer. Once installed, you can use it without an Internet connection (which is a pro compared to online conversion services). That means your converted documents are more secure, as you’re in control of the content. Also, the file quality of converted files tends to be higher.
Below, we are going to take a further look at some of the best PDF converting software. But first, read out the factors we use to narrow down the choices.
Best PDF Converter for Windows 10: What to Consider?
Supported File Formats
PDFs are stubborn to deal with, that’s why you want to convert them into another editable format. A great PDF converter should support exporting original PDFs into common file formats such as Microsoft Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, text, image, etc.
This is important because the quality of converted files should be as high as possible, content in the file ideally being identical to the original PDF. The best 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 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 are using a word processor.
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.
Sometimes you may just want to convert a few pages in a PDF file, other times you may have a hundred files to be converted to different formats. In these situations, a powerful PDF converter must have batch and partial converting features.
Working with PDF files is tough enough as it is. The converter software you choose should offer a clean user interface with easy to understand text/visual instructions so you can complete your work without much learning curve.
Windows 10 Compatibility
Most PCs run the latest Windows 10. So if a program can’t be installed or run on our Windows 10 PC, we remove it immediately from our list.
The price range for PDF converters is broad, from free of cost to a few hundred dollars. Adobe Acrobat is great, but for most people, it’s on the pricer side. We recommend you consider the price of a program while balancing the features it has to offer. You know your needs the best.
Not all PDF conversion software is created equal. Some are powerful but difficult to learn. So just in case you have questions while using the software, it would be ideal if you can reach out to their customer support and they get back to you with a satisfying answer.
Best PDF Converter Software for Windows 10: Our Picks
Note: all the programs below have been tested on our PC and they are compatible with the latest Windows 10. Some are free to download or use, some are commercial software that requires you to pay. Those programs are mostly used for converting purposes, read our PDF editor review if you also have editing needs to your PDFs.
1. Adobe Acrobat PDF Converter
If you need to quickly convert your PDF files into Word documents or start a new project, Adobe Acrobat is one of the best options. Widely viewed as the industry standard, Acrobat allows you to spend less time on busy work and more time getting projects completed once you get familiarized with its powerful features. Acrobat can be used from mobile when you’re out of the office. You can also choose to export a small selection of text instead of an entire document. The best part is that when you convert scans (which are basically images) in Acrobat, the original formatting also gets converted, with no need to waste time making adjustments. While this tool is very versatile, it isn’t inexpensive and comes with a high number of options and what might be considered a deeper learning curve for beginners.
2. ABBYY FineReader
ABBYY FineReader allows you to convert scanned paper documents, images, and PDFs into Word, Excel, and other file formats without needing to retype a single word. Utilizing a special technology called OCR (Optical Character Recognition) you can convert all your scanned documents into editable file formats. Boasting a 99.8% accuracy rate, this tool preserves document layout and structure with superior conversion results. In our opinion, FineReader is best for firms that need to produce many documents and convert regularly.
PDFelement is a powerful program with a user-friendly interface. If you need to convert your PDF into multiple formats, it is another great choice. Not only does it have flexible output options, but it also allows you to convert separate files with different formats into a single document. You can create converted files with the original formatting without altering the way the fonts or images appear.
4. Soda PDF
Soda PDF allows you to access features from wherever you are, on any device. In many ways, it serves as a low-cost alternative to Adobe Acrobat. It offers free functionality read to PDFs with simulated page-flipping, so you can create PDFs from any files, and convert them back into all the expected file formats such as Word, Excel, and PPT. This tool can help your business go paperless by easily allowing you to send and collect legally-binding e-signatures. You can protect the security of sensitive materials with a 256-bit AES password. You can also use Soda PDF to easily back up your content to cloud services such as OneDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox.
5. PDF Architect
PDF Architect is another converter boasting valued features at a very competitive price. With a helpful user interface, navigating the application is a breeze, as you can easily determine where you need to go with just the 12 tabs of the front page. Every printable file format is available, with batch creation and scanner integration for searchable, editable documents. This PDF converter is a good choice for a small business that handles sensitive data as you can use it to enable password encryption, redactions, permissions, and digital signatures. The sending and tracking of e-signatures can be achieved from right inside the application.
6. SmallPDF Converter
Small PDF Converter is an online PDF converter service for quickly and easily getting your documents into the format you’re looking for. To use it, all you have to do is drag and drop your files into the toolbox and it’s ready to go. This tool has a free version that allows you to try the features before you fully commit. All file transfers through Small PDF are secured with an advanced level of SSL encryption. No files are stored on any servers, so you don’t have to worry about your data falling into the wrong hands. One thing you might enjoy about this tool is that there is no requirement to register or install an app before using it. You can simply open your browser and use Small PDF on any device with an internet connection.
7. Nitro PDF Converter
As one of the leading alternatives to Adobe Acrobat, Nitro provides PDF productivity tools and electronic signatures through a browser-based service. This tool allows you to retain your layouts when converting into other formats. The original fonts, images, everything will remain where they were in the original files. You can also use Nitro PDF to turn email attachments and media into PDF files and archive them for easy access. Other attractive features that come with this converter include the ability to convert several files at once, and the spell-check feature to promote professionalism.
8. Power PDF
If you’re a small business that requires a PDF converter for your individual needs, the flexibility of the Kofax Power PDF may be what you’re looking for. Power PDF was formerly owned by Nuance, who was just acquired by Kofax, a company excelling in the areas of collaboration, security, and enterprise deployment. Power PDF Standard is the most basic version in their suite of products, it also has an Advanced version. With some of the most accurate PDF to Word or Excel conversions on the market, this tool also allows you to edit, combine, and assemble files with ease.
9. PDFmate Converter Pro
With OCR technology to assist you in converting and editing scanned documents, PDF Converter Professional is perfect for daily usage. This tool is a 6-in-1 PDF converter that includes uncommon formats such as EPUB for ebooks. You can merge documents by specifying any page selections that you wish to convert. You can also easily split documents into separate files in a folder of your choice, password protect your files from being seen or edited by third parties, while you can set page formats in your desired orders and sizes. You can run PDFmate on Window 10/8/7/XP/Vista.
Chris is a lifelong tech enthusiast with a broad range of interests including coding, data analysis, traveling, and more. He used to work as a software programmer immersing himself in the world of codes, now he finds it more interesting talking to real people.