The Best Mac PDF Converter of 2020
Business • Updated on March 15, 2020
It’s far enough in 2020 for you to notice that you can’t directly open a PDF file with Pages, Office, TextEdit, or XYZ app on your Mac as it will be a display of gibberish above. Considering how tricky PDFs can get, it becomes really taxing to view and edit PDFs on Mac.
Did you say “retyping PDF”?
It is too valuable to waste time re-entering PDF data into Microsoft word or spreadsheets on Mac — especially when it comes to maintaining the original formatting of the document.
So it’s necessary to have a powerful Mac PDF converter tool in 2020 so that you can finally stop re-typing other documents and get back to what’s really important – your work and productivity.
PDF Converter: what we tested
We looked at the following criteria to pick the best PDF converter for Mac from the lot.
- Ease of use: When we want to use my PDF converter, we want to simply drag-n-drop-n-go. we expect to need a Mac app that should be dead simple to use each time.
- Export options: With this category of apps, this is the single most important feature. A good PDF converter should convert a PDF into a different format such as images, text/RTF, Microsoft Office Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. that are compatible with Apple iWork as well.
- Converting quality: While much emphasis is placed on the ability to convert PDF files, equally as important is the ability to keep the original formatting and produce high-quality results. Besides, the best programs quickly and batch processes the task to provide a pleasant conversion experience.
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR) — The ability to apply Optical Character Recognition (or OCR) is extremely important as it takes an image that looks like text and converts it to actual, computer-readable text. A Mac PDF Converter that integrates OCR technology will save you tons of hours when it comes to dealing with scanned PDFs.
Among all the apps that we tested, Wondershare PDF Converter Pro for Mac was the clear winner.
The reason why it stands out of the competition is because of some of these features that it possesses, and the number of file types that it converts your PDF to is unparalleled.
Wondershare PDF Converter Pro for Mac helps you convert text-based and scanned PDF into following file formats:
- PDF to iWork Pages(.pages)
- PDF to Microsoft Word(.docx)
- PDF to PowerPoint(.pptx)
- PDF to Excel(.xlsx)
- PDF to RTF(.rtf)
- PDF to Text(.txt)
- PDF to ePub (.epub Book format.)
- PDF to HTML(.html)
- PDF to Images (JPG, BMP, TIFF, GIF)
Installation and interface
You can download a free trial version to test out the software. The trial version only allows you to convert the first five pages of a PDF, and OCR function isn’t available.
About the User Interface, it is sleek, not many options, which makes it easy to use. Just select the output format that you desire and click on Convert. Easy at it sounds.
The software also uses drag and drop functionality that all Mac users love, which makes it not only easy, but much gets the work done with much better pace.
After you purchase Wondershare PDF Converter Pro, you can turn on “OCR” support, and download and install the plugin first.
Drag-n-drop your scanned PDF files to it. You can also import the whole folder for conversion.
When a scanned PDF file is uploaded, the program will automatically detect it and promote you to perform OCR to make it editable.
The program will ask you to choose the right OCR language for the output documents.
Another worth-mentioning feature is the fact that optical recognition system has the ability to scan and recognize the text from your PDFs or images for 20+ languages, so chances that your text will be converted with strange characters or symbols are quite low.
PDF Converter Pro can queue as many as PDFs for conversion at one time, and you can easily select which individual pages should be picked up for conversion or define a range.
We liked PDF Converter Pro’s ability to specify different format for each PDF I uploaded and then convert them simultaneously.
PDF Converter Pro even supports password-protected PDF. If the document has security set up to prevent you from printing it, changing it, or copying its text, PDF Converter Pro ignores the restrictions.
We tested the application against PDF documents with all security measures enabled, save printing and PDF Converter Pro dealt with them with the same speed.
We tried converting about twenty different PDFs, a few ebooks, and regular documents that were converted from Word, Excel and PowerPoint. We even converted scanned fax from a few months ago.
We tried working with one of the most common formats — DOCX — and as you can see, the resulting Word file (right) looks a lot like the original PDF (left). This is very common with this type(complex layouts) of file conversion.
We also tried working with PPT files. We started with a PowerPoint that we saved to PDF via PowerPoint, it converted back into a PowerPoint well. The background and title became a background image, but the text was editable.
Coming to Mac’s native document format, we tried playing around with Pages. We picked a lost Pages document with only a PDF copy. When we tried to convert it back. It wasn’t 100% perfect. Some text that was centered needed to be re-centered, and some of the text ends up in separate boxes, but some of that is because of the way the original was constructed.
The EPUB also worked very well. We downloaded a few public domain ebooks, and each one converted with ease. There were no real issues with the converted files.
Well, for the most part, this software does a great job of converting PDFs to other formats properly. And it does a much better job than other software I’ve used, especially with poor quality PDFs that were scanned from faxes.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
For the most part, this software does a great job of converting PDFs to other formats properly. And it does a much better job than other software I’ve used, especially with poor quality PDFs that were scanned from faxes. However, there was one part that was a bit disappointing.
The app takes a while to work on PDFs that are large with many elements. So if you are doing batch conversion, then you might have to wait for a while to get the results.
However, the speed might see an improvement if you are on newer Macs with faster processing and more memory.
Pricing and availability
You can download Wondershare PDF Converter Pro trial version now to give it a whirl, or get the lifetime version at the list price $39.95 from their official website.
The trial limits access to features such as OCR, but it should be enough for you to get a hang of things at Wondershare PDF Converter.
Best with OCR: OCRKit
Our second pick is the OCR Kit Pro. This app is useful for converting scanned or printed documents into searchable PDF files (also RTF, HTML and text). It produces documents after you drag in graphics. It couldn’t be simpler to use.
It supports about 25 languages and offers different options for you to customize the conversion.
OCRKit combined the scanned image visuals with the interpreted text. It made it easy to search for text and find it within the context of the original document. The product’s output is something many users will find of value.
It is beneficial if you are someone who works with extracting a lot of texts out of PDFs. The app also has support for PDF compression, so if you are emailing large PDFs, this feature can be of great aid.
The app comes with automatic language selection to increase precision. It also has automatic rotation to determine the angle of each document, so you won’t have to waste much time trying to figure out the orientations of specific files. Automation here is of great aid!
OCRKit also has AppleScript support, which means that advanced users can use the app for programmed batch conversions.
The following file formats are currently supported by OCRKit: PDF, HTML, RTF, and TXT.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
OCRKit made it to our list of top PDF converters due to excellent OCR abilities. However, we did wish that the app had a more modern interface.
Sometimes, you wonder where the app is performing its operations. We also wished that the app gave us an option to directly access the output files without having to locate them.
The app doesn’t really have an interface, so the work is done by going to the File option and then choosing Open to select a PDF you want to work on. The presence of a simple interface might have made the interface more straightforward.
There is also no preview or some kind of an editor, which can make the app a bit confusing to use.
However, if your needs are straightforward, then this app could be a good choice.
Pricing and availability
OCRKit comes with a 14-day free trial. It should be enough for you to fully evaluate the app before you decide to purchase. Once you have made up your mind, you can go ahead with the purchase.
You can purchase a license of OCRKit at $39.99.
Other options we considered
Here are some of the other options that we considered for PDF editing and converting other than our top picks.
Preview is Mac’s built-in viewer. It lets you open images, PDFs, and other formats such as PNG, TIFF, BMP, PDF, AI, FAX, XBM, and JPE. You can convert these supported formats to PDF by following a few simple steps.
Open Preview on your Mac and go to File. Then, click on Open to add the target file to the Preview app. Now, scroll through the thumbnails to select the file you want to convert to the PDF. Mark these thumbnails and then go to File and choose Export as PDF. Once you do that, a print window pops up, letting you choose your destination to save your newly created PDF while.
Although Preview is a handy app to get to know your files better and convert them to PDF, it is not really the ultimate app to convert files into other formats as the export options to other formats are quite limited.
Lighten PDF Converter is a lightweight and simple to use application that enables you to transform read-only documents.
The software supports batch conversion, as well as a full preview of each file — thanks to the integrated PDF reader.
The software enables you to draw table areas in the reader area to highlight or preserve certain formatting particularities.
Several output formats require additional settings, such as JPG, TXT, CSV or XLSX. In case you convert the PDFs to images, you may select to extract only the images from the input files, then resize each picture to fit the page format.
Moreover, the Standard version does not have OCR function, so scanned PDF will be converted as an image instead of editable text in Word. TO use the OCR feature, you need to get hold of the OCR version.
The standard version can be purchased at $29.99, and the OCR version comes at $34.99. There’s also an iOS version available.
You also get a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you are unhappy with your purchase.
Solid Converter Mac is another Mac app to convert PDF files to other formats. It lets you easily convert your PDFS into editable Word documents. It even lets you convert scanned PDFs to editable and well formatted Word documents using its Solid OCR feature.
Other conversion options include conversion to Excel files, PowerPoint, HTML, Text, and iWork Pages.
The app also comes with advanced features for converting or removing headers and footers in a document. Options such as table recovery allow you to reconstruct border and borderless tables with apt formatting.
It also supports form recognition, which means that you won’t miss out on those forms, and can work on them quickly through editable text boxes.
Other Solid Converter Mac features include Rotated Text Recovery and Hyperlink detection, which makes it much easier to work on the app. It also lets you save time by selecting and converting multiple PDFs to your desired format through batch conversion.
Solid Converter Mac has all the tools you need in a PDF converter. Besides, it’s quite fast and easy on your computer’s resources. Solid Converter Mac won’t be cumbersome to run if you have a Mac loaded with apps, with little memory left.
The app also has decent localization features as it is available in 11 languages.
Solid Converter Mac comes with a 15-day working trial, after which you have to purchase the app for $99.95. The results that you get during the trial period are watermarked. They have a 90-day money-back guarantee if you are unsatisfied with the workings of the app.
Smallpdf for desktop is another app that aims to “simplify your PDF tasks”.
It provides you with an optimal reading experience, faster compression, and automatic upgrades.
Smallpdf performs the most common conversion tasks with ease. It has a PDF converted, which also compresses PDFs to save more space. There’s a split and merge feature that comes handy if you are working with multiple PDFs at the same time.
The conversion PDF files have been optimized to include popular file options such as Word Excel, PPT, and JPG. It also works vice-versa — you can easily convert the same files to PDF.
Besides conversion features, Smallpdf for Mac lets you sign PDFs, unlock, and protect them.
A 14-day free trial is available for Smallpdf, after which you have to pay $108 per year or $12 per month.
PDFelement for Mac is an app that brings to you what Preview cannot.
It makes editing stuff in a PDF as easy as editing a Word file. You never really realize that you are editing a PDF file. It takes all the elements of a PDF into context, be it images, blocks, tables, captions, fonts — anything.
PDFelement has annotating tools to make working with PDFs easier. If you are taking it to the office, or for work purposes, then the digital signatures come handy.
However, one of the most exciting features of PDFelement is the ability to convert PDFs to other formats. It can convert a PDF to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, images, ePub, Text, Pages, HTML, and RTF. Yes, every other format out there is usable for various applications.
Another great feature that we liked about PDFelement was its ability to collaborate. It lets you collaborate more effectively with you by sending across your work and having them reviewed by them.
If you are someone who works with a team on projects that require extensive editing, then PDFelement could help you out with it.
The monthly plan for the standard version of PDFelement comes at $6.99, whereas you might have to shell out $9.99 for a Pro plan.
There are also quarterly and annual plans available.
Has a PDF list really been complete without the addition of Acrobat DC?
Adobe Acrobat DC is used by millions of organizations around the world to create and edit PDFs and convert them to other Office formats.
Besides providing all the essential features of a PDF editor and converter, Acrobat DC also comes with features to increase your work efficiency. It can convert existing forms to fillable forms, which saves a lot of time with line-drawing.
You can also compare two PDF files in a single interface to figure out how different is one PDF file from the other.
If you have a PDF mixed up at all places, you can easily rearrange pages and delete them. You can also rotate pages to fit a particular style.
With useful sync features across devices through mobile apps, Acrobat DC can be a beneficial tool for your organization.
What about online pdf converters
Online conversion services don’t require software installation. They’re mostly free, fast, and convenient. But some important notes: first, they tend to be less secure if your PDFs contain sensitive or confidential information; second, the quality of the output documents is not great.
They also lack other advanced features such as batch conversion, OCR, PDF comparison, and more. Be prepared to wait longer if you have dozens of PDFs to be converted.
By now, you must have an idea of what could work for you. You would need an app that performs the basics as well as advanced functions. The pricing could also be a factor.
If you have been an Adobe user and are now looking for something different, then Wondershare PDF Converter Pro for Mac could definitely be an option as it is decently priced and has all the features that you need in a PDF converter. It is also fast.
As far as the PDF OCR is concerned, just make sure you download the OCR plugin and install it first.
Wondershare PDF Converter Pro is continually being updated too. We can’t wait to see what else is done to improve this fantastic application.
Solid Converter Mac and OCRKit are also good and manage to do their respective jobs well.
With constant updates and excellent support, most of our top picks are all set to help you increase your productivity and change the way you have been working with PDFs.
They are a PDF revolution.