PDFs, or Portable Document Format files, make it easy to share content across operating system platforms—they retain your formatting and ensure that anyone looking at the document sees the same thing.

However, PDFs are—by design—not editable documents. If you need to make changes to the text in a PDF, you’ll have to first convert it to a Word file.

But while turning a DOC or DOCX file into a PDF is simple (just go to Save As, then select the correct file format from the dropdown menu in the dialog box), turning a PDF into a Word file requires some external help.

16 Free Online Converter Tools for PDF to DOC or DOCX

If you regularly need to change PDFs into Word documents, it may be worth investigating the paid, downloadable software options. But if you’re like many people, converting a PDF to a DOCX file isn’t something you do often. Luckily there are plenty of free, completely online tools you can use when the need arises.

Here are the best ones out there.

Photo of person typing by Corinne Kutz

1. Online OCR

With Online OCR, you can select the output language (it supports 46 different languages, including Chinese, Latin, Polish, and even Esperanto), and whether you’d like a Word file, an Excel file, or a Plain Text (.txt) file. The service is free, but registering with your email will open up additional features, such as the ability to upload multiple images at once.

2. FreeFileConvert

FreeFileConvert will allow you not only to convert PDFs to DOCXs, but can convert files into just about any format you can think of, from audio and video files to vector files to font files.

3. FormSwift

FormSwift will allow you to upload a PDF under 100 pages in length and then edit it before you convert it to a Word document. You can add images, text, and even signatures. The Word file is then emailed to you.

4. PDFSimpli

PDFSimpli allows you to choose from a variety of file conversions, both to and from PDF. You can also compress, split, merge, edit, rotate, watermark, or sign PDFs.

5. AltoPDFtoWord

AltoPDFtoWord is a simple, straightforward too. You can choose your file, upload it, and then quickly and easily convert it to a downloadable Word file.

6. Smallpdf

Smallpdf‘s PDF to Word converter is fast, easy to use, and has no limit on file size. It will even convert scanned documents to Word files using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). There’s also a browser extension so you can use it across the web. If you want unlimited access, you have to subscribe or download the desktop version.

7. PDF to Doc

PDF to Doc allows you convert to and from PDF, as well as combine and compress PDF files. You can upload multiple files and then download your Word docs quickly and easily to a zip folder.

8. Foxit

Although there is a size limit on PDF files (up to 10 MB), Foxit is simple and straightforward, with no frills to get in your way. If you need to convert larger files, you can download a free trial of their desktop software.

9. SimplyPDF

With SimplyPDF, you can convert a PDF to a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file. There are also a number of customizable fields, such as whether you want the program to detect tables and lists, how you want to treat headers and footers, and whether to automatically rotate text.

10. I Love PDF

Simple and straightforward, I Love PDF offers a no-frills conversion from PDF to Word, with a downloadable Word file waiting for you at the end.

11. PDFOnline

PDFOnline offers several format conversion tools, all of which can be used without registering or giving any contact information. The downloadable files are deleted shortly after you download them, making this a relatively secure option.

12. PDFPro

PDFPro is a fast and easy converter tool that allows you to convert up to 3 files a month. More than that, and you’ll have to sign up for a monthly subscription.

13. Nitro

Nitro allows you to convert to and from PDF, Word, Excel, and Powerpoint and emails you the converted file. Their full software allows you to manipulate PDFs in a number of ways; it’s a paid program, but it does offer a free trial.

14. PDFCandy

PDFCandy will allow you to convert as many files as you want, of any size, with no restrictions or limitations. Their OCR feature ensures that even printed PDFs can be turned into editable Word docs.

15. SodaPDF

Like many others, SodaPDF takes your uploaded file and turns it into a downloadable Word format. They’ll also email you a link to your document, which stays active for just 24 hours. The online application has even more functionality, including the ability to turn PDFs into .txt and .rtf files.

16. Zamzar

Zamzar’s list of file formats is almost overwhelming, but if you need to convert a file to a more obscure format, this is the tool for you. With image, document, video, Ebook, and compressed options, you’ll get the flexibility you need with this all-online tool.

File Conversion Is Simple with Online Tools

Whether you just need to change a PDF into a Word document or you’re hoping to sign, compress, or manipulate your PDF files, there’s an online tool for you.

You may have to try out a few different tools to see which one best fits your needs, but if you only convert a couple of small PDFs a month, nearly any of these options will work. Happy editing!

Have you used any of these tools? Do you have a favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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Melissa Drumm

Melissa Drumm is an editor at TCK Publishing. As a lifelong book lover, she is passionate about helping authors make their work the best it can be. You can find some of her writing here on the TCK blog, and learn more about her other projects at melissadrumm.com. When she's not writing, editing, or reading, you'll usually find her in the kitchen, baking.