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Overcoming the PDF Barrier

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in The Office Tech Pro

Most of us create PDFs with two expectations: That they will not be modified, and that nearly anyone can read one without paying anything for software. The truth is that PDFs can be deconstructed relatively easily. If you have a legitimate reason to edit PDF content in another application, there are some tools you should know about.

1. Office 2013 – If you are lucky enough to have access to the new Office suite, you already have this capability. Office 2013, natively, allows you to open a PDF right in Word. If you bought Office 2013 (or the newest version of Office 365), you already own it.


2. Adobe® ExportPDF – This relatively inexpensive piece of software is available right from Adobe as a subscription service. For only $19.99/year (as of this writing), you can convert limitless PDFs to Word documents. This service also includes an OCR (optical character recognition) component that lets you process scanned documents into editable text. Of course it depends upon the quality of the scan. Still, not bad for a nickel a day!
3. The old “copy and paste.” Provided the PDF was created in Adobe Acrobat and through a reliable converter such as Word (Save and Send, Create PDF), a copy and paste will at least give you the text to work on. You do lose most of the formatting, but you do get the content.

I have experimented with quite a few free, free-to-try and cheap third party applications. Without exception, they have all failed me in some simple ways. Either the software is buggy and doesn’t accurately convert the PDF or, recently, as I found to my dismay, the installation of this free-to-try software installed all sorts of extra things on my computer that I didn’t want. The opt-out selections for some of these weren’t obvious enough for me to catch them. And, I do look for those things. So, it is truly caveat emptor (buyer beware) with third party freeware/free-to-try ware.

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