How to Convert a PDF to a Searchable Document
A PDF file is a Portable Document Format file which can be used to store various kinds of documents (such as articles, manuals, and so on).
Generally speaking, a PDF file can be opened and viewed using Adobe Reader or similar applications (such as Okular or Sigil).
Once opened, a user can navigate through the file and view the contents (such as text, tables, or images) in a simple and convenient way. In addition, some PDF files can be edited using Acrobat or similar applications (such as Nitro PDF or RedactPDF).
When needed, a user can re-compress the file using one of the many free tools (such as Compress PDF, PDF Compress, or PDF Optimizer) available online to save a little bit of space.
Why Convert a PDF to a Searchable Document?
If you’re looking to archive important papers or files for later review, you can always convert a PDF file to a searchable document. This provides numerous advantages which I’ll list below.
To start, a searchable document can be opened and viewed using any search engine or application (such as Google or Microsoft Search). As a result, it will be much easier to find specific information when needed. In addition, since the file is stored in a digital format, it is highly compatible with any computer or device.
Next, consider the case where you need to review an archive of a large number of PDF files. You can use any text or document editor to perform a quick and convenient search through the documents. In addition, you don’t need to worry about losing track of changes as the file is easily recoverable.
Last but not least, a searchable document can be shared easily with others through digital distribution platforms (such as Slack or Dropbox). As a result, it will be much easier to get feedback or collaborate with other parties on a project.
To learn more, please consult the official websites for Acrobat and PDF. In addition, if you’re curious about converting other file formats to PDF, consider checking out Acrobat’s documentation of the file formats it supports.
Let’s get to the good stuff now… Once you’ve decided to convert your PDF to a searchable document, the next step is to choose a tool to do it.
I’ll list a few of the most popular ones below along with some pros and cons:
- Adobe Acrobat: The world’s #1 PDF editor and viewer. Widely accepted as the industry standard. It is available for both Windows and macOS. Free for basic use.
- PDF Compress (formerly PDF Architect): A freeware utility which allows you to compress various versions of a PDF file (including individual pages). It has several advantages over other similar tools including the fact that it can re-compress individual pages if needed. It also has a built-in bookmarking system which makes it easy to keep track of where you are in the file. In addition, it provides a full report on file modifications. Free for non-commercial use.
- PDF Optimizer (formerly AcroRivar): A cross-platform utility which allows you to re-work, convert and compress PDF files. It is known for its speed and simple interface. The free version is ad-supported but you can upgrade to the pro version for a small fee.
- Online converters (such as ExportPDF.com or PDF Convert): These services allow users to quickly upload files and have them converted into a PDF format on the fly. In addition, many also provide annotation capabilities so you can keep track of changes made to the document during the process.
- Nitro PDF (formerly Nitro Document Converter): Another online tool which allows you to convert various documents to PDF. Like ExportPDF.com and PDF Convert, it provides an easy one-click option for uploading a file and having it converted. In addition, it provides robust features for annotating and commenting on a PDF file.
As you can see, there are quite a few choices out there. Don’t forget about them but, in the end, it comes down to personal preferences and what features suit your needs best. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make the right choice for your particular situation.
Which One Should You Get?
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get started, I’d recommend Adobe Acrobat since it is available for both Windows and macOS. In addition, it is one of the most widely used applications in the industry. As a result, you’re sure to find a version that fits your needs. If you’re looking for a freeware option, you can’t go wrong with PDF Compress since it is available for both Windows and macOS. It is also one of the most popular applications in the industry and is extremely easy to use.
As for features, Adobe Acrobat and PDF Compress both have a built-in bookmarking system which makes it easy to keep track of where you are in a file. In addition, Adobe Acrobat provides comments and annotations while PDF Compress allows you to make changes to a file and have the updated version sent to you. You can also use Adobe Acrobat to quickly re-order or re-write content in a file. As for the encryption feature, it is built into Adobe Acrobat and not PDF Compress so it is available for all versions of the software. Finally, if you’re looking for a cross-platform solution, consider Nitro PDF since it has versions for both Windows and macOS. In addition, the developers are constantly working to build a better version for each platform.
To recap, PDF files can be easily converted to a searchable document using one of the many available tools. Once converted, they can be opened and searched using any text or document editor. Since the file is stored in a digital format, it is compatible with any computer or device.
In the end, let’s face it: not everybody wants to go through the effort of finding and using a tool to open a PDF file every time they need to read it. As a result, it’s always great when a tool like this exists that handles all the heavy lifting for you. So, in the end, all the hassle of converting a PDF file to a searchable document is completely eliminated. Hurrah!