Convert them back

I don’t know who said it but I remember someone saying once that “PDF Files are where good ideas go to die”.

The meaning and you’ve probably done it yourself is that you take a document, say Microsoft Word and save or print it to PDF format.  It’s a common way to share a document with others and guarantee that everyone will be able to read it.  There’s another advantage – once it’s in PDF format, nobody can change the contents of the document.

But suppose you wanted to?

There are lots of ways; I know that I have a copy of Adobe Acrobat handy to do the deed.  There are other tools and typically you have to have a copy of some piece of software on your computer to help with the task.

But in the world of the Chromebook, software installation may not be an option.  What to do then?

Turn to the web.

Here’s one solution – Free Online OCR

It’s a simple concept.  Upload your PDF file and get a .docx file back in return.


There are other alternative that you can find in the FAQ.  The ability to change the language may be helpful as well.

When I tested it, I didn’t get a completely perfect conversion but the resulting .docx file was easily edited to put it back in its original form.

I did have a practical need for this; I had a PDF file that I created a long time ago and actually needed to get the original.  Not having it available, the service was of immediate help.

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: Follow me on Twitter: I'm bookmarking things at:

One thought on “Convert them back”

  1. Good morning, Doug!

    I’m fairly certain that you need to attribute the “where ideas go to die” quote to Will Richardson (@willrich45).

    PDFs are a great file type for ensuring print-ready, cross-platform formatting of information and ideas. I’ve never fully understood the “where ideas go to die” concern. Before fancy eBooks and while web-publishing was still moving from basic HTML towards the then-far-off world of CSS, the PDF emerged as a great format for publishing and sharing online. I’d suggest that it still is.

    On a rare instance I will encounter a PDF file that has been locked by the publisher to prevent editing. Usually PDFs like that are provided for a fee by an entity looking to recoup the time/cost involved in preparing the content. In the majority of instances, however, PDFs are usually very accessible, as their intent is to make their content openly available to the reader.

    PDFs have their place in the world. I say they belong in the “snapshot in time” category of documents, as is the case with a published book. There’s nothing to say that the ideas in them need to die.

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