Free PDF to Word Converter: desktop app offers excellent PDF to Word/Doc conversions

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Smart Soft’s Free PDF to Word Converter is a free program that offers one-click PDF to Word (DOC) conversions. It performs conversions locally on your desktop (i.e. it is not a web service) and offers excellent fidelity to the original document.

I’ve written about PDF to Word/Doc conversions before (see the previously published comparative test); and while there are a handful of excellent conversion options available for free, the best are usually web services where you upload or email your PDF and receive the converted file back via email.

The handful of local, desktop PDF to DOC apps have typically been more “lightweight” contenders offering far less sophisticated conversions than their web-based counterparts.

Which is why Smart Soft’s Free PDF to Word Converter is a very welcome addition to the field; it is a very capable app that can hold it’s own against some of the best PDF-to-Word web services (although still outclassed by PDF to Word Free web service, which is still my favorite).

To test this app I performed 4 conversions (1) the US Form W-4 Tax forms; (2) a typical “read-me” type PDF containing text, images, and links, (3) a table with embedded images and other formatting, and (4) a PDF that is entirely generated from an image source. Here is a summary of the results.

  • General layout: this just may be the best desktop PDF to Word conversion app in terms of faithfully recreating the “general layout” and “look and feel” of documents. The only desktop app to output a reasonable Word conversion of the (very complicated) W4 tax form.
  • Image handling: is very good in general. MOST of the images in my conversions were imported and placed correctly, with the exception of two images that were inside of tables, which came out blank (although a third such images was inexplicably imported correctly).
  • Handling of tables: recreates the “look and feel” of tables but does not create actual Word tables I will say that is more or less the standard treatments of tables in most PDF to Word converters. The only exceptions are web service PDF to Word Free which actually produces Word tables, and PDF to Excel Free (also a web service) which will convert tables to Excel sheets.
  • Handling of text boxes: no continuous text; each line of text will be rendered in its own text box, making editing a rather complicated and labor intensive process.
  • Handling of text formatting: very good in general; font style, shading, bulleted points, and numbered lists were well preserved.
  • Hyperlinks: no working hyperlinks were generated in the output DOC files; this is also standard for most such converters.
  • Handling of special characters: I frequently get asked about a PDF to DOC converter that can handle foreign characters (such as Russian) correctly. I did not test for this myself so please let me know how this service fares in this respect if you test it yourself.
  • Fast performance: each page within your document takes mere seconds to convert.

The verdict: this program’s PROS include a sleek, well design user interface, and simple, fast, one-click conversions. It also is truly free and is devoid of nags and distractions. A few changes could have made this program much better, including the option to merge text boxes together to create large, editable blocks of text, and better treatment for images inside tables.

Nonetheless, for a desktop freeware PDF to DOC converter this one is probably the best out there. Although as mentioned above you could get better conversions using some of the free web services, there are times when you might prefer to use a desktop program instead (e.g. if you have too many files that may not be practical to upload to a web service en-mass, if the file(s) are too big to email or upload, or if you have privacy or security concerns about uploading or emailing your personal or business PDF documents, just to name a few examples). If you prefer to use a desktop based app rather than a web service Smart Soft’s Free PDF to Word Converter is probably the best freeware option.

Version Tested: 4.2.3.183 (I think).

Compatibility: Windows  XP, Vista.

Go to the program page to download this program (approx 3.82 megs).