Converting ‘image only’ PDFs to Word

How to convert a PDF into a Word document, even when Word 2013 can’t do it.

Since Word 2013 can’t properly convert ‘image only’ PDF’s or you don’t have Word 2013 at all, how can you convert PDF’s?

There are many options available including free and paid online services, OCR software or even paying someone to retype the document.

For us, the first place to try is … Google Docs. Yes, Google’s online office suite has some nifty tricks and PDF conversion is one of them.

Go to http://docs.google.com and login with your Google account.

Upload the PDF to Google via the upload button.

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/PDFs%20convert%20in%20Google%20Docs%201.png image from Converting ‘image only’ PDFs to Word at Office-Watch.com

Select the uploaded PDF, right-click and choose Open with | Google Docs (not Google Drive Viewer).

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/PDFs%20convert%20in%20Google%20Docs%202.png image from Converting ‘image only’ PDFs to Word at Office-Watch.com

Wait while Google’s servers convert and OCR the PDF into an editable document. When the document appears it might not seem that anything has changed because all you’ll see is the page image. But if you scroll down you’ll see that Google makes a converted document with each page image followed by the text extracted or OCR’d from that page.

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/PDFs%20convert%20in%20Google%20Docs%203.png image from Converting ‘image only’ PDFs to Word at Office-Watch.com

It‘s not the standard way to present a converted PDF but it makes sense. You can compare the page image with the converted text, edit the text and when it’s correct, delete the page image.

You can do that editing in Google Docs or in Word.

Go to File | Download as | and choose a document format.

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/PDFs%20convert%20in%20Google%20Docs%204.png image from Converting ‘image only’ PDFs to Word at Office-Watch.com

Once downloaded you can open the document in Word or any other program you like.


Your mileage ….

Converting a PDF to editable text is rarely perfect. The originals need to be clear, in a recognized font and evenly formatted. Check the converted text carefully and edit where required.