Converting PDFs to Word documents using Office 365

Black Cat guidesIf you are working on PDF page proofs, or on hard copy with the PDF as a backup, it’s handy to be able to convert that file to a Word document. Once you’ve got a copy in Word, you can run tools such as PerfectIt, macros, and good old spellcheck (it’s amazing what that can still pick up at proof stage).

There are lots of paid-for ways of converting a PDF to a document you can work with in Word, but if you have Office 365 (the subscription for the suite of Microsoft Office programs) or a stand-alone copy of Word 2016 then you already have the means to convert the file. It isn’t a perfect conversion, and the conversion process struggles with files that contain lots of images, but the result is usually good enough to work with.

The process for Mac users is a little more complex – I’ll come to that later – but for now, here’s the method if you are running Windows 10:

Find your PDF and right click on it. Go to ‘Open with’ and then select Word.

Converting to Word

Word will load, and then you’ll see this information box:

Converting to Word 2

Click ‘OK’. It will take anything from a few seconds to a few minutes for Word to perform the conversion, but in due course you will have an editable and searchable Word document. I’d advise saving (‘Save As’, so you can modify the title and properties if you need to) this file before you begin working on it.

Converting using Word Online

Mac users can’t (as far as I know) use the simple right-click method above – but do not despair. If you have an Office 365 subscription, you can use Word Online and OneDrive to do the job instead.

Go to You’ll probably have to log in if you aren’t already signed in to Outlook Email (on the web, not the desktop program). You should be presented with a page like this:

OneDrive load page ed

Then click on ‘Upload’ and choose ‘Files’. Find the PDF you want to convert and upload it. Click on the file and it will take you to a new screen.

Open in Word Online ed

Go to ‘Open’ and choose ‘Open in Word Online’ and then click ‘Edit in Word’.

Edit in WordEdWe’re nearly there. You’ll see this pop-up box asking you to confirm the conversion:

File conversion

Once the conversion is complete, click ‘View’. On the new page, click ‘Edit document’ and then choose ‘Edit in Word’.

Edit in Word link

It’ll open your desktop version of Word and load the file. I strongly recommend saving a local version of the document before you start using it.

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