Saturday 24 July 2010

Converting Adobe PDF Files to Text or HTML

Chances are that you come across a lot of PDF files everyday, at work, school or home. PDF (which stands for Portable Document Format by the way) files are great as they often preserve the formatting of the text even if you don't happen to have a font installed. They also preserve the layout and images in the document. Also, it's free to create PDF files from several applications like OpenOffice, Microsoft Office and you can usually even print web pages to a PDF file.

However, one big problem with a PDF file is that you need a PDF reader to view it. Although Macs, and GNU/Linux based PCs come with individual readers, and Adobe's reader is a free download for windows users, other platforms sometimes don't have readily available or free readers.

For instance, BlackBerrys, iPhones and many other portable devices don't have a full fledged PDF reader built in. So, ironically, the PDF file isn't so portable after all, since you're out of luck when it comes to a mobile device.

However, sometimes there are files where the content is more important than the layout, and the content is mostly text (like ebooks or project instructions or a letter). In such cases it is often more desirable to just have a text file or a html file instead.

Luckily, Adobe provides some really easy ways to convert the PDF documents.

Option 1: Email To convert a PDF to text, simply email the document to! After converting the document, the service will email you back with the text file attached. Similarly, you can also email a PDF to and you'll receive a html file attached in the returned email instead.

Option 2: Online Link to the document Alternatively, if the document happens to be online, you can visit Adobe's online conversion tools page, and convert the documents from there.
This way, if it's something simple like a file full of text, you wont need a PDF viewer to view the information in it. Plus, if you happen to need raw data (for a program that you may be writing, say) from a PDF file, this in a great way to convert the file!

Got a question, tip or comment? Send them to and we'll try to answer it in a blog post!

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