[Windows] Best free PDF to Word, HTML, and images converter (PDF to DOC, RTF, HTML, JPG, PNG, and more)

Presentation is often a key element when it comes to sharing documents or files. The issue is, when you put together a document in a word processor, there is no way of knowing how the person you are sending the document to will view it; depending on what word processor program they have, or what operating system they are on, they may view the document formatting differently than what you intended and thus ruin the presentation.

One way to get around the above-mentioned issue is to share documents or files in PDF format. PDFs helps ensure everyone sees the document or file in the same way, with the same formatting regardless of what program or operating system is used. PDFs have other merits, too. However, PDFs are a pain when it comes to editing.

Not only does one often need to shell out a lot of money to purchase dedicated PDF editors, but editing PDFs is just cumbersome — not even close to the ease of editing, say, a Word file. That is why being able to convert PDF to DOC or RTF is something everyone should be able to do. There are many PDF to Word converters out there, many of them costing a lot of money. However, there is no need to spend a lot of money when it is possible to get excellent PDF to Word (PDF to DOC or RTF) conversion capability in a freeware program.

In that regard, dotTech has looked at many freeware PDF to Word converters, found the best one, and reviewed it for you. Enjoy!

This review is part of our Best Free Windows Software section. Check out more articles on the best free Windows programs from here.

Table of Contents

Best Free PDF to Word Converter

Program Name: UniPDF

Developer: UniPDF

Download Size: 4.2 MB

Version Reviewed: v1.0.4

Requires: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Win7/Win8

Pros

  • Has the ability to convert PDF to DOC and PDF to RTF
  • In addition to PDF to Word converting capability, can convert PDF to TXT, HTML, JPG, BMP, TIF, PNG, GIF, PCX, and TGA
  • Supports regular PDFs and PDFs protected by owner or user password, as long as you know the password
  • Supports batch processing (i.e. users can queue up multiple PDFs and UniPDF will convert them one after another)
  • Allows users to either convert whole PDFs or designate a range of pages
  • Excellent conversion quality — accurately converts images, text, and tables
  • Converts fairly quickly
  • You don’t need Microsoft Word installed to use UniPDF

Cons

  • Overwrites existing files, that are of the same name and extension in the output directory, without prompt
  • Might contain bloatware during install, so be watchful

Discussion

Let me tell you a little story.

A couple of months ago I decided to sit down and write a “Best Free PDF to Word Converter for Windows” article. For this article, I planned on featuring AnyBizSoft PDF to Word Converter. Any dotTechie that has been following dotTech for a while knows how much I love AnyBizSoft PDF to Word Converter. However, when I went to grab AnyBizSoft PDF to Word Converter, I found out Wondershare Software (the developer of AnyBizSoft PDF to Word Converter) not only renamed the program to Wondershare PDF to Word Converter but also no longer offered it for free. In my book, I have no issue with developers charging for their programs; after all, everyone has to earn a living so I’m not going to push the “all software should be free” philosophy on anyone. However, a paid program is of no use to me when I want to write about the best free PDF to Word converter.

Thinking “there must be other good free PDF to Word converters”, I went looking for other free programs that did (do) PDF to Word conversions. I wasn’t interested in the online converting websites (for various reasons, including but not limited to security concerns and file size limits) but rather programs you can download and use for free. I found quite a few ones, such as SmartSoft Free PDF to Word Converter, Boxoft PDF to Word, HelloPDF Free PDF to Word Doc Converter, and many more. Unfortunately, all the ones I tested were crap. Sure they did PDF to Word conversions files, but the conversion quality/accuracy was (is) terrible. So, with my hopes shot to hell, I shelved my plans for a “Best Free PDF to Word Converter for Windows” article. Fast forward few months, and I come across UniPDF. And I almost shat my pants.

Ladies and gentlemen, UniPDF is, without question, the best PDF to Word Converter I have ever used. Forget all the free PDF to Word Converters out there — UniPDF even beats paid PDF to Word Converters that I have used, such as NitroPDF 6. Indeed, UniPDF has excellent conversion quality; it is not 100% perfect (no converter is 100% perfect), but generally speaking UniPDF converts images, text, and tables very accurately.

Don’t believe me? Check out the following examples I used to test UniPDF and the converted results:

Example1 is a PDF with text, tables, and images/graphs; Example2 is a PDF with a simple table; Example 3 is a PDF with a complex table; and Example 4 is a 10-page text document with a couple of images.

As you can see, the conversion accuracy isn’t 100% (such as Example2) but, by and large, the conversion results are excellent. Most notable is how UniPDF converts tables as tables, images as images, and text as text (and doesn’t use text boxes).

The best part is you aren’t sacrificing usability for good conversion accuracy; UniPDF is very easy to use — install it and use it, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist. However, there are a few points of clarification that should be mentioned:

  • When you try to convert a PDF that is protected with owner or user password, the “Status” column for the PDF in UniPDF will say “Need Password”. You need to click on “Need Password” and enter the password, otherwise UniPDF won’t convert it.
  • UniPDF has the ability to convert whole PDFs or select pages. To convert only select pages, click on the “Select Pages” column for the PDF in UniPDF, click on the drop-down menu, and select “e.g 1-4″. Then type in the page range you want to convert.
  • UniPDF’s PDF to Word converter has the ability to do PDF -> DOC and PDF -> RTF. By default, UniPDF does PDF -> RTF. If you want PDF -> DOC, you need to go to “Settings” and select “.doc” under “Word Format”.
  • Whenever you modify anything in “Settings”, be sure to hit the “Save” button at the bottom otherwise the changes won’t save.
  • UniPDF has the ability to place converted files in the same folder as the input PDF, on your desktop, or any folder you specify. This is good but note that if you have an existing file with the same name and extension in the output directory (regardless of which output location you select), UniPDF will overwrite that existing file without notification. You will lose the existing file if you aren’t careful.

Really the only issue I found with UniPDF is a bug. For some odd reason, whenever I insert Example1 for conversion in UniPDF, UniPDF tells me a password is required for it. However, Example1 has no owner or user password and UniPDF converts the PDF just fine despite asking me to input a password. So I’m not sure why UniPDF is telling me it requires a password. Since the PDF is converted even though a password is asked, it isn’t a major issue but it is a bug that should be noted in case you run across it, too.

That said, I’ll let you in on a secret. Software reviewers experience something called “the high” whenever we run across an excellent program. “The high” is when our palms get sweaty, we pump our fists in the air, and the hair on our hands raises; we know we have found something noteworthy. I definitely felt “the high” with UniPDF. It isn’t perfect, but it is an excellent program… much better than any other PDF to Word converter I have used.

Other Alternatives

[Thanks Frank for UniPDF tip!]

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40 comments

  1. David Roper

    Just thinking outloud. The program “SHOULD I REMOVE IT” found some (3) pieces of crapware on my PC and removed it all at my choice. It was the kind of crapware that Paul endured. Maybe download UNIPDF, and then run SHOULD I REMOVE IT? And of course the Microsoft Malware/Virus/ did nothing to catch crapware for me.

    I propose some inventive software developer write a Crapware program called PoopAway.exe

  2. Paul

    I tried to install this and instead ended up with several other bits of junk/spyware and the usual “I want to take over your browser”.
    I can’t recomend anyone to try this unless there is a clean program download. The home link goes instead to another well known download company. I guess I’ll have to keep looking.

  3. David Roper

    Holy Moley, Nemopdf really does convert PDF to DOC great. It has a RTF choice as output which doesn’t bring the pictures which are possible in RTF however. ;-(

    I tried DOC to RTF in KINGSOFT but it didn’t work to save the pictures like output to DOC did just fine.

  4. David Roper

    Why can’t someone write a utility to just strip the TEXT out of PDF files? …maybe even just byte by byte. CPUs these days are powerful enough for it.

    A good Virtual ASCII text printer driver would be perfect, too.

    Freeware of course.

  5. Burl

    Completely unimpressed, no different from any other converter. Six different PDF’s tried, and not one of them were even remotely usable. Installed, and used on both a winxp sp3 laptop, and a win7 desktop, with near identical results.

  6. Qualifier

    SUPERAntiSpyware reports TW.dll Trojan located within UNIPDF program. File not located in any other section of my Window 7 64bit operating system.. Researched on internet suggesting that tw.dll belongs to the Practical Extraction and Report Language (PERL) scripting language, which is the common choice of various CGI (Common Gateway Interface) authors because of its ease of use and learning. I do not have PERL installed nor do I have tw.dll error reports as suggested by users reporting TW.dll errors.

    File size is 92KB in UNIPDF versus 704KB listed within internet virus reports.

    Suspect that this might be a false positive but asking if any others have had this experience .

  7. njwood60

    @MansionTrash: Yes I’ve tried your suggestion and it does work

    I also emailed the developer to let them know of the runtime error problem, and they were very quick to reply. Which was good. They asked for screen shots and more info which I emailed but have not heard anymore. They did say though that the program wasn’t acessing the internet, even though my firewall says it is. It seems that it is trying to access 127.0.0.1 which is the “localhost” on the PC so probably not an external connection to the internet. Anyway if I allow the access to the internet then I don’t actually get the runtime error message.

  8. mukhi

    does it convert to secure PDF (owner pw only) to word w/o knowing owner pw? wondershare does it, i know.

    today’s GAOTD version is ridiculous, aiseesoft’s SW has a size > 300 MB, not worth downloading (if it can ever be downloaded)!!!

  9. MansionTrash

    Hello Everyone, Just a quick suggestion here. For those of you (us) that get the ‘Runtime Error’ message, you may still be ok by simply ignoring the error message-box, and leaving it OPEN though, and using the main program as you normally would. In my case, the program works fine with the error message-box in the background.
    Please comment as to whether this works for you too. Thanks all, and have a good weekend !
    MansionTrash

  10. eric506

    My litmus test of pdf converters is an expense report a staff member sends me. It comes as a bmp file inside an email. I’ve used a number of different image to pdf converters (and settled on PDFill tools), then try to convert the resulting file into a Word or Excel file. I have tried online conversions, every free converter (including UniPDF) listed at various tech sites, and trial versions of paid software (including Nitro Pro and today’s giveaway of the day from Aiseesoft).

    Most of the converters cannot get beyond the image, and will, with more or less accuracy, save the information into a Word file as an image (sometimes able to be edited, sometimes not). The only software I have found that will convert this type of file into a legitimate, editable Word or Excel file (and I’ve looked for years!) is PDF Converter Pro from Nuance. Even there, the conversion is not perfect (there are a couple lost decimals and scrambled names), but it produces a genuine Excel (or Word or WordPerfect) file, without the image.

    PDF Converter isn’t cheap (regularly around $100 USD, but can be had occasionally for about $80 USD), but, I haven’t found anything that even comes close, and the bmp to pdf to xlsx conversion happens within a minute!

  11. Bill

    Useful review, thanks.

    You say you’re a married man, so why the crude, scatological language in a couple of places? It’s not as though you’re a kid, trying to impress the grown-ups with foul language.

    Please try and do better on that front in future.

  12. Deej

    I had a bad walware experience and have since been very nervous. But this comes via Ashraf!. I downloaded and activated. then remembered I was supposed to check with my new virus check program. Normally I would only install/activate if 0/0. This got a 2/46. In my excitement, i had already installed. sigh. Wondering if I should uninstall. Ashraf, please advise if possible.
    https://www.virustotal.com/file/0f7f79e671f97f2d7003ce3797f1e22337617dd7001019481d12b2d2d68e366e/analysis/1355737479/

  13. AFPhys

    WOW – - – I tried this program now – GREAT!!!

    I had a bit of a problem with the 120 page example file when it did convert to .doc Reminder: I am mostly interested in tables…

    HOWEVER — it was at least readable, and then —>>>

    I tried using the feature to take the document into HTML >>> FLAWLESS tables!!!!!!

    I like that even better than into .doc format, for two reasons: Gnumeric (and scalc OOOffice spreadsheets) love cut/paste from HTML documents, and that is where I manipulate all my tables! Secondly, swriter (OpenOffice) has no trouble importing HTML documents, though I did not try to import this one.

    All the page header/footer “images” were put in a separate *files.dir directory from the HTML document, and there were a lot of them… along with the many charts.

    I suggest that if you find a document that the program has trouble handling directly into .doc, that you try the convert to HTML first, then import it into your word processor.

    Thank you so much for finding and featuring this, Ashraf.

    A couple months ago, I had a conversation with a woman here who was looking for this program. I hope she sees it now.

  14. Commonkore

    Greetings Ashraf: I’ve tried installing this program twice and keep getting the same result. When I open the installed program I get a Runtime Error message that says “this application has requested the Runtime to terminate it in an unusual way. Please contact the applications support team for more information.”

    What am I doing wrong?

  15. Frank D

    @Merlin:As you say, once it has been opened in Word, by saving the converted pdf document as a “doc” file, the resulting, saved Word document becomes a true Word “doc” file and is no longer an “rtf.” In sum, we can say that using a UniPDF conversion operation is a valid way to convert a PDF into a DOC.

  16. Merlin

    @Frank D: When you use the save as option you’ll notice that it is an rtf file. Word then wants to give the document the rtf extention like it should have been in the first place.
    If, when saving as, you change the output type of the file to doc, the document will then be written as a true doc file.
    The original rtf file will be retained until you delete it from the disk.

  17. Frank D

    @Merlin: Would this fact have any practical effect on the output Word file in any way? Might this be a distinction without a difference (i.e., they both respond identically to all operations in Word)? Once in Word and saved as a normal doc file, would the rtf then become a doc file?

  18. Merlin

    Actually, it isn’t really a pdf to Word converter.
    The doc-files are in fact rtf-files that have the .doc extention.
    This doesn’t mean it is a bad program.
    Most pdf to Word converters I tried perform this trick… :)

  19. kevbo

    @njwood60: I had been searching for a reliable and inexpensive PDF to Word converter for many moons. Frank D also brought this great program to my attention through a post here last week at dotTech. Although I’ve only used it a few times since finding it, so far it outshines anything I have used in the past. Thanks Ashraf for confirming my first impression of the program, and thanks again to Frank for pointing me in the right direction.
    My PDF software arsenal in now complete!

  20. AFPhys

    I have been looking for a good PDF converter. I thought I snagged a decent one a couple months ago, but it choked on over half the PDFs I tried, especially on tables, and then seemed to stop working.

    Looking forward to this one. Sounds like there is finally a “keeper” in this category,

  21. Sceleron

    “Ladies and gentlemen, UniPDF is, without question, the best PDF to Word Converter I have ever used”.
    Well, maybe is the case to try Nitro again, but v7 (the last one is 7.5.0.29), not v8 which is current. Nitro 6 was so-so and Nitro 8 is in developping stage (not beta, but sort of, speaking of Nitro :) , you know.. )
    Nitro 7 is a solid, reliable and mature program and I find its converter to be the best of all (it uses a modified – in good! – Solid PDF converter v7).
    UniPDF is the best FREE PDF to Word Converter, perhaps. Great find, anyway. For occasional works seems to be perfect.
    PS: Wondershare is a joke-company…

  22. njwood60

    Thanks Ashraf – great find. Seems like it might be quite new. Wonder when they’ll start charging?

    Tried it out and it seems to work really well. Way better than my version of Wondershare PDF to Word (v 3.5.0)

    One thing that didn’t work for me was the option to open the converted document (Word) after the conversion. Nothing happend. Not a big deal for me as I wouldn’t normally use an option like that.

    Interesting thing – the first time I used it, it wanted to connect to the internet which I disallowed and it just closed. I opened again and allowed it to connect to the internet on a one-time only basis. After that on subsequent opens it didn’t ask to connect to the internet, so not sure what it was “sending home” the first time