Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Turn PDFs into documents, spreadsheets & presentations with Able2Extract

If you’ve ever tried to get text or images out of PDF files so you can edit them, you’ll know that it is an unreliable process. The more complex the PDF is, the less likely you are to end up with something usable after conversion. Further, most tools only help you turn PDFs into text documents, even if their contents are better suited to other formats. This makes it quite difficult to liberate those old teaching materials or resources trapped in PDF files!

I was recently approached by to road test the newest version of their PDF extraction tool, Able2Extract. After putting the product through its paces, I was pleased to discover that it really works! Able2Extract converts PDF files to documents (Word and Open Source formats), spreadsheets (Excel, CSV and Open Source formats), presentations (PowerPoint and Open Source formats), images, supported AutoCAD formats and Microsoft Publisher format. The product also lets you create PDF files, allowing you to add security features (such as a password) in the process.

The level of data and formatting retained after conversion is extremely high. I used Able2Extract to convert an 18-page image-heavy recipe booklet to PowerPoint, a 20-page text and image information guide to Word and long multi-column tables to Excel. In all cases, the converted files retained and accurately displayed all data and almost all formatting. The only loss I experienced was that of the page numbers in one file.

So, if you’ve got PDF files that you’d like to turn into editable documents, spreadsheets, presentations or more, read on to learn how Able2Extract can help.

How do I get it?

Able2Extract is available as a desktop application for Windows, Mac and Linux. It has both standard and professional versions. You can see a comparison of the versions here (the professional version includes OCR capabilities).

I suggest you begin with the 7 day free trial. If you’re happy with the product you can choose to purchase a 30 day licence for the standard version for US$34.95 (great for once-off big-batch conversions) or a full, permanent licence for US$99.95. 

To get Able2Extract:
2. Click the Free Trial button at the top of the page. 
3. Select your Operating System to begin downloading the install file.
4. Once the file download is complete, launch the file to instal Able2Extract on your computer.

How do I use it?

Able2Extract shows useful help tips to guide you through using the product. Here’s my quick guide for converting a PDF to another format.
1. Click the Open button. Browse for and select the PDF file you want to convert.
2. Select the content you want to convert. You have a few options:
     - Click and drag with the left mouse button to highlight content.
     - Use the Select All or Select Area buttons in the top toolbar.
     - Use the options on the Edit drop-down menu.

3. Once the content is selected, click the button for your desired file type in the top toolbar.

4. Choose a location to save the converted file and click Save.

Don’t forget Copyright

Before converting a PDF to an editable format, always consider the copyright status of the file you are converting. Depending on the Copyright or Creative Commons licence associated with the file, it may be illegal for you to edit or distribute the content.

Learn more

To learn more about Able2Extract, check out their support centre.

Note: In the interests of transparency, I’d like to let you know that I was provided a free licence for Able2Extract as a result of publishing this post. However, I only recommend products on this blog that I am willing to use myself and are comfortable personally recommending to colleagues, clients and family. 


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