How to convert a PDF file to a Google Doc with or without its original formatting

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How to convert a PDF file to a Google Doc with or without its original formatting
It's possible to convert a PDF to a Google Doc, though the results may vary. FG Trade/Getty Images
  • You can convert a PDF to a Google Doc if your PDF meets certain guidelines, like page orientation.
  • If you want to convert it with the formatting, you'll need to have access to Microsoft Word.
  • Just be aware that the free version of Word doesn't work with that conversion method.
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PDFs can be useful, but if you don't own the file and need to make changes to it, that presents a problem. So converting it to a Google Doc can be a useful option. Just be aware that converting it can cause formatting issues - though converting it to a Word document first can help minimize those.

With that in mind, here's what you need to know.

Guidelines for converting PDFs

In order for your PDF to convert properly, it should meet the following guidelines:

  • It must be oriented so that you can read it - right-side-up.
  • Images should be 2MB or less.
  • The text should use a basic font, like Times New Roman or Arial.
  • The text should be at least 10 pixels high.
  • Any document and any images within it should be well lit and easy to visually understand.

How to convert a PDF to a Google Doc without formatting

1. Go to drive.google.com and log into your account, if needed.

2. Drag your PDF onto the Drive page to upload it. Or click the New button in the top-left corner of your Drive and choose File Upload and then select your PDF to upload.

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How to convert a PDF file to a Google Doc with or without its original formatting
Select "File Upload" to begin the upload process. Devon Delfino

3. Once uploaded, right-click the file and select Open with followed by Google Docs.

How to convert a PDF file to a Google Doc with or without its original formatting
Choose "Open with" and then Google Docs to open your PDF as a Google Doc. Devon Delfino

It may take a few minutes for the PDF to convert to a Google Doc. Once it does, it will appear in your main Drive file area.

How to convert a PDF to a Google Doc with formatting

Microsoft Word is more accurate than Google Docs at preserving your PDF's formatting. The catch here, of course, is that you'd have to have access to Word for this to be an option. And although there is a free version available online, this method doesn't work with it.

1. Open the Microsoft Word desktop application.

2. Select Open and then choose the PDF you want to convert.

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3. A pop-up message will then appear. Hit Ok to let it convert the PDF to a document. Once converted, the document will open in Word.

4. Choose File, Save as, and then select Word document. You may have to hit Enable editing to get this done.

5. Open your Google Drive.

6. Right-click in the folder you want to save your document to, then choose Upload files.

How to convert a PDF file to a Google Doc with or without its original formatting
Upload your Word document to Google Drive. Devon Delfino

7. Choose your Word document and hit Open.

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8. Once the file has been added to your Google Drive, right-click it and choose Open with followed by Google Docs.

9. Click File and then Save As Google Docs.

Quick tip: You can also export a Google Doc as a PDF via the File menu within a Google Doc. From there, you can save it to your computer or add it as an email attachment.

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