PDF to Word Free: web service that delivers free, high quality PDF to DOC conversions


PDF to Word Free is a free web service that offers high-quality conversions of PDF files to DOC or RTF formats that can be used in Microsoft word or other Rich Text Editors. It lets you upload PDF files through a web interface and will then send the converted file via email as an attachment.

I have looked at a number of free PDF to DOC/RTF conversion options (see the previously published comparative test). I will say straight off the bat that this is the most impressive free conversion service that I have come across; their slogan “the most accurate PDF to Word converter”, at least when it comes to free conversion services, is right on the money.

I will qualify this statement a little but by saying that this is still in private beta and therefore it is hard to determine whether it will eventually suffer from some of the reliability and/or server overload issues that afflict some other similar services (such as Koolwire which I have recommended elsewhere).

Please note that the developers have generously offered to make private-beta invites available for Freewaregenius readers. Check the “registration” section at the bottom of this posting under “Compatibility” for the invite code.

I used this service to convert a number of documents that contain a number of elements: images, tables, hyperlinks, bullets, numbered-lists, and various text formatting. Here are more notes on this service (as well as results):

  • Max uploadable file size: is 10 megs. For larger files you might want to split these into manageable parts using something like PDF Split and Merge or PDFTK Builder.
  • Performance: very fast. The email with the converted file arrived in a manner of minutes. It would be interesting to see if this will change once the service is out of private beta and is handling a higher level of traffic and conversion requests.
  • Privacy policy: I am paraphrasing their privacy policy which can be found here. It promises that your files will not be looked at by a human at any point and that they will be deleted as soon as they are converted and emailed. Also promises that your email would be used solely to send your files and for no other reason.

Conversion results:

  • Image handling: was excellent. The images were imported and placed correctly within the document (even for images inside tables). No non-image elements such as tables or formatting were converted to images (which sometimes happens in other programs/services).
  • Tables: handles tables perfectly; the DOC file actually contained an editable table in the right place. This is the only free service/program of its kind that does this as far as I know.
  • Handling of text and/or text boxes: produced a continuous text uninterrupted by carriage returns at the end of each line and without being dispersed into random floating text boxes (all of which may be encountered in other conversion services). The resulting text is perfectly suited for editing with MS Word or a similar editor.
  • Handling of text formatting: easily the best I have ever seen. Shading in tables was handled correctly, as was font style and color. Most bulleted points and numbered list were correct, although there were some discrepancies here but they were few and far between. It even correctly created working hyperlinks that correspond to the original PDF.
  • 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.

Freewaregenius 5-Star Pick

The verdict: in terms of conversion quality this is hands down the best free PDF to DOC/RTF converter that I have seen; there is simply nothing that comes close. What remains to be seen, however, is how reliable the service will be once it is officially launched and inundated with conversion requests. I am hopeful that they will handle the logistics with the same care and attention that they have poured into the product itself. Simply terrific!

Version Tested: beta.

Compatibility: browser based.

Registration: use the invite code “nitro” and a working email address to register (you may need to wait up to an hour or so). If the invite code does not work then it is probably because they’ve maxed out on beta invites they are giving out and you may need to wait for the official launch.

Go to the PDF to Word Free page to use this service.

  • FredThompson

    These types of sites are nice (so are online image editing, etc.) but there are 2 significant weaknesses. Anything you upload is available to an unknown, untrusted external source. Don’t use this for anything proprietary. The other weakness is the need to be online. Not so great during travel or somewhere that you can’t get a net connection. Sure wish these sorts of things would be released as full executable packages.

    • Samer

      They do offer a desktop-based standalone converter, but it’s not free.

  • That’s right, we do have our Nitro PDF Professional product, which is an alternative to Nitro Pro.

    This is brand new technology that hasn’t made its way into our desktop product yet. It will be included in our Nitro Pro 6.0 release, due in Q2 of this year.

    Our online infrastructure is very scalable and we’re confident there will be little problems as the site becomes more and more popular.

  • One of the good things about this tool is that it is free. But since it is web based application, it is totally dependent to your internet bandwidth. Unlike its desktop-based counterparts which depend on the processor speed and other hardwares. This tool is advisable for those who have high internet speed only. Because dial-up users will surely cursed this service.

  • Conversion of an English PDF file seems to be great – but a double-byte character language such as Japanese is converted to an image file. An application called PDF to Word does Japanese PDF conversions to Word pretty well. I hope support for double-byte languages are also on the drawing board.

  • Hitendra

    Tried it out … absolutely brilliant

    My document had English and Viet, worked fine…this is very very good

  • Tried out the PDF to Word Free service: it works great! I was especially pleased with how it handled tables. 😉
    Thanks for the private Beta codes. 😉

  • Would you have any idea how the service (and pricing) will evolve once this thing is out of Beta?

  • Samer

    @ Dodot: with a name like “PDF to Word Free” I think it unlikely that they will eventually switch it to a paid service. Their thinking is obviously to charge for the desktop-based software and to provide the online service free of charge.

    @ Macobeth: I don’t see this as being too taxing on internet bandwidth, unless you are converting dozens of files. If you want a desktop service this is the one that I would recommend: Some PDF to Word Converter


    The quality of the “PDF to Word Free” web service, however, is much better.

  • I like the interface. I saw this on Lifehacker earlier today. But once again your review is much more in depth. Looks like a pretty solid product. It’s about time we begin seeing a lot of options for this.

  • Scott Y

    I just tried this free PDF to Word (Nitro) online conversion. It was very fast — less than a minute turn-around time — and very good results almost identical to the original (although it was only a two-column text with several different paragraph formats in the title area, so not a very demanding test).

    It was _much_ better than “Some PDF to Word” on the same simple document. The latter had a number of serious format errors, including multiple copies of the title, run-on italics (didn’t return to normal text), and the start of some paragraphs overlapped onto the end of the preceding paragraph (again triggered by italics in the original).

    The most awkward and disappointing thing about low-powered converters like “Some PDF” is that they use text boxes to corral the text and force it into the original layout. But the results are very difficult to work with if you want to adjust anything later.

    By contrast, the output of Nitro PDF to Word is much more like a native Word file. See http://www.pdftoword.com/features.htm, especially the section “What Our Technology Doesn’t Do”. I’m skipping “Some PDF” for Nitro from now on.

  • Transcontinental

    Nice discovery, thanks! – Invite code “nitro” is accepted at this time, waiting for confirmation…

  • CT

    I happened to be on a local TV station’s website to check the weather conditions (Snow!), and thought the mix of columns, fonts, graphics, and what-not would be a challenge, so I ‘Printed’ the page with “CutePDF”, uploaded it to Nitro’s webservice, and the results were ALMOST perfect – The 2 page PDF came back as a 3 page Word document, with the middle (second) page blank, which I attributed to coincidence of the page break – Impressive!

    Thanks, Samer!

    btw, “nitro” still works, as of 3 March, 1:32am

  • Scott Y

    Nitro PDF-to-Word came out of beta on March 15, 2009 so it’s now available free to everyone — no password required.

  • Scott Y

    Oops! According to the title graphic, the service is still beta, but anyone can participate.

  • linky

    i did try a lot free converter.
    i really didn’t feel they work.
    it always broke down before i got something.
    now i am using Tweak pdf to word.
    a very cheap one but helpful.
    if you need a converter too,you can try it in http://www.tweakpdf.com/

  • Michel

    I never receive the translated file ! I try many times but never I receive the conversion file in my email

  • Opps, it failed to convert for me, because my pdf files are protected.
    i searched for a while, finally i find this. AnyBizSoft pdf to word.
    it helps me to convert protected pdf files. you may have a try.

  • Wow that service is very great, I tested some pdf files and had great results, I love it, hope it will develop in the future.
    Thank you.

  • I love freeware!
    If you want to convert word document to PDF it is very easy. you can create it with Openoffice, Kingsoft WPS, Google Doc and so on.

  • I rather freeware than paid software to fit my budget, I love the conversion rate of this tool for creating such professional pdf’s.

  • useful software

  • That’s nice.PDF To Word be a converter is very convenient.
    Nemo PDF Converter 4.0 converts PDF to Word/RTF and Word/Excel to PDF for uses of different situations with speed and 100 accuracy. It keeps intact of the original files and supports batch conversion. You can either batch convert files from the converter or from the button integrated in your documents with ease. Moreover, its user-friendly interfaces will make you a veteran from a new user in minutes.

  • Amox

    Recommend a site for u:

  • Murray

    Surprised to see this quality of conversion free.
    Your software picks out tables and graphics and converts without flaw, unlike other and more known competitors.
    Is this software available to buy and if so what will the cost be ?

  • MarcusG

    Excellent service! I just converted a couple of complex pdfs with multiple types of page elements and the conversion was flawless unlike many others I’ve tried. Thank you!

  • shakira

    Advanced PDF to Word 5.0 is a pretty useful tool to convert PDF files to Word Documents,Converted quality is fairly good: with text content, page layouts, images,and text hyperlinks preserved.what’s more,it only costs you $19.95,so why not have a try.http://www.advancedpdfconverter.com

  • james

    UPDATE: Feb 8, 2010

    Service must be overwhelmed and now as slow as Zamzar and the rest. 40 minutes and still no response.

  • zhuismile

    If you would not like to extra install Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat or Acrobat Reader,how about Advanced PDF to word 5.0,it is a standalone application.It is the only product which is able to convert Password-protected PDF files to word documents successfully.

  • Great post!Very helpful information

  • This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the good work.

  • Very interesting and informative article indeed. I have to admit that I always follow all news about this, so it was quite interesting to read this your post about this subject.

  • Cheryl

    Could not EDIT anything? Have most recent version of Word…yet none of the PDF documents that were converted are WORD Documents? Had to delete all of them? Would love some advice as to the problem? They e-mailed me the documents as they stated and neither opening or saving the doc allowed editing? Very disappointed, because the document came up perfectly?