Converting PDFs (at a reasonable price) without losing the formatting — or your temper.

Back in November 2010 I wrote about Nitro Software’s free PDF to Word web-based application for converting PDF files (with graphics) to editable Word files (with the graphics more or less intact).

Since then, I’ve invested in Docudesk’s deskUNPDF convertor, which costs about $70 for a single-user licence (add another 14 or 20 dollars if you want 2- or 3-year “new-version assurance”, i.e. access to up-grades).

I chose deskUNPDF because it’s available for Macs and, as a desk-top application, solves the confidentiality problem posed by web-based apps. I’d also been finding that Nitro’s PDF-to-Word conversion was taking longer and longer (hours, sometimes) to process. A final advantage with Docudesk is that it produces cleaner and more complete conversions — with PDF to Word, some table and graphs had remained difficult to edit.

Windows users will probably have a wider range of options, but as a Mac user I think deskUNPDF is a good investment.

If you’ve made any good software discoveries that boost your productivity, share them in the comments!

By Marian Dougan

Published by Marian Dougan

Marian is a translator and editor (specialising in web content) currently based in Glasgow, Scotland. Marian previously lived in Italy for over 20 years, working as a language teacher, translator and policy analyst with the British Embassy in Rome. A qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and its Italian-language and ITI Scotnet networks, she is currently Scotnet's Convenor and Deputy Webmaster. From 2003 to 2006 Marian taught translation skills at the Italian Department of Glasgow University and now gives Master Classes as part of the new Masters in Translation Studies course. She also conducts web-writing and usability workshops to help people improve their websites and communicate more effectively with their readers, users and customers. In September 2014 Marian obtained User Experience Certification, with specialisation in Web Design, from the Nielsen Norman Group. She loves language, especially English, and is convinced that learning languages opens up people’s minds and horizons (and increases their brainpower!). To share her enthusiasm, she advises schools and educational authorities on language skills and enterprise. She gives talks to pupils on how to combine language studies with other subjects and so enhance their potential and increase their career options. Marian is an active member of organisations such as: Scottish Council Development and Industry (SCDI); Association of Scottish Businesswomen; Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Scotland. She also loves architecture, design, fashion (British Vogue!), cities and chocolate. She’s a great fan of Twitter and you can also find her on Linkedin.

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  1. Sounds handy, though I confess that when I send a PDF it is usually because I don’t want anyone messing with it!

    1. Same here, I don’t want anyone messing with my PDFs. But translating a PDF requires a good PDF to Word software (or a lot of hair to pull out). Thanks for the tip!

    2. Yes, there’s a bit of a contradiction here. The problem for translators is that clients sometimes send PDFs with lots of tables and/or graphs and diagrams that need to be translated (the text elements, that is). There are workarounds in Word to recreate some of the formatting, but they’re still time-consuming. If you can convert the PDF and keep the formatting intact, you can then translate within the document and recreate the look of the original.

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