Tech Tips: Convert a PDF File into an Editable Document
December 10, 2017
At work, I often received read-only PDF files containing documents that I work with. Usually, the fact that the documents are read-only isn't a problem, but sometimes, I need to edit a document. Because it's a PDF, of course, I can't. Is there some free way to convert a PDF to an editable document so I can edit the text?
PDF files are, by their nature, read-only. Most people load the documents and view them using Adobe Acrobat Reader, or using an add-in in their browser that can display PDF files. If you want to edit the content of a PDF, however, you need to take some extra effort.
There are many tools that can scan the images found in PDF files and convert those images into modifiable text, but almost all of these tools cost money. Their results are of varying quality, and as with any other scanning job.
We recently discovered a free way to convert PDFs into editable documents, and it's super easy. The only requirements are an Internet connection, and a Google account. (If you have a Google email address, use that — if not, you'll need to create a Google account in order to use this tip.)
The trick is to upload the PDF file to Google Drive, allowing Google's tools to convert the PDF to editable text as it uploads. To do this, browse to drive.google.com (log in with your account), choose the blue New button, and select File Upload from the menu.
After uploading, the document shows up in your list of documents. Right-click on the new document, and select Open With, and then select Google Docs from the list of options.
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Google Docs converts your PDF to editable text, and you can make whatever changes you need. Be warned that the conversion can make a mess of any special formatting, so it's unlikely that this round-trip will be totally transparent to the document's creator!
The process will extract the text, and Google's tools will make efforts to preserve the formatting, if possible.
Saving your document leaves it on your Google Drive. To save it back to your local hard drive as a PDF file, select the File menu, then Download As, and then the PDF Document (.PDF). You can also elect to save it in a number of other formats, including a Microsoft Word document (.DOCX).
This technique isn't foolproof — in our attempts, some formatting was lost — but it's a quick, easy, and inexpensive/free way to convert PDF files into editable text!
Stop Incoming iPhone Calls from Ringing on Your Computer or Tablet
I guess there must be someone who wants this behavior, but I do not: When a call comes in on my iPhone, my Mac and my iPad also start ringing, slightly out of synch. This makes me crazy! Every call causes this terrible cacophony, and I need to make it stop. Can you help?
This behavior is the default behavior for iOS 11, we guess, because we've had it happen as well, and the sound is horrifyingly irritating. Every time Ken gets a call, he curses the phone, the computer, the caller, and most of all, Apple.
We don't know about you, but when we get a call, we just pick up the phone. We haven't ever tried to pick up a call using my Mac, since our phones are sitting right next to us.
We're glad you asked this question, as it forced us to find (and implement) the solution, which turns out to be simple.
To fix this problem, find your iPhone, and start the Settings app. Find the Phone options, and select the Calls on Other Devices option.
At the top of the page, you have an option to simply turn off the feature. You can also choose to enable or disable the feature for any local Apple devices that are signed into the same iCloud account.
(Although it was tempting to simply turn this off, Ken recalled taking a call on his iPad once as he was lounging on the sofa. He left that one device on, lest he have to actually get up and move a few feet to answer a phone call.)
If you're irritated by unpleasantly out of synch ringing on all your Apple devices every time you get a call, take a moment to configure the Calls on Other Devices option to avoid the jangly headache.
Doug Behl and Ken Getz spent years answering technical questions in private, and are minimizing the questions by pre-emptively publishing the answers. Hear Doug and Ken's tech tips on KNCO radio weekdays at around 8:21 a.m. and 5:38 p.m.; find full write-ups including links to the products they mention at http://blog.techtipguys.com. Submit your own technical questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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