Narrowing Down the List
Originally, we started with 15 PDF conversion software applications. We looked for programs that offer tools to convert PDFs to a variety of other documents. With most users wanting to convert PDF to Word documents, we eliminated one program that didn't integrate with Microsoft.
We then tested 14 programs that met our criteria: namely, programs with OCR capabilities that create searchable PDFs, convert PDFs into popular formats and that are easy to use as well as the other features present on our product comparison (refer to our matrix). We picked the top 10 programs based not only the presence of these features but how well the software performed, with an emphasis on usability.
Testing the Usability of Each Program
To test PDF conversion software, we either received trial accounts of each application or purchased the software from the manufacturer. We tested programs based on their ability to convert PDF documents into different formats, how many steps were involved in setting up the software and converting files, what editing features were present, and what resources the software offers to help you during the conversion process.
We tested these 10 programs for their conversion capabilities and their ability to convert batches of files at once. This was an important test, because many people use convert PDF software to combine multiple documents. If you work with multiple languages, you want software that can handle more than one language as well. Look at our matrix to see how many languages each application supports.
We tested the software ourselves to see how intuitive it was to both access and use. While all software has a learning curve, you do not want to spend days or weeks learning how to execute basic functions. Our Ease of Use score reflects how easy the software was to download or access, the steps involved in converting a PDF to a Word document, how easy it was to navigate the interface and the accessibility of the program's resources. We offer further evaluations of the usability of each software in the product reviews.
Software that Stood Out
In our tests, Adobe Acrobat performed remarkably well in every aspect. Not only does this software offer a clean interface that is easy to navigate, but it offers easy accessibility. You simply download the software and its associated app, and you can access your PDFs from anywhere. We found it was exceptionally easy to convert scanned PDFs into other file formats and never had to access the help resources, although they were present in the application.
When we tested the editing features, we looked for software with OCR compatibility, which lets you create editable PDFs from scanned documents. Editing features are key because often you need to change documents throughout their lifecycle.
When we tested the editing features convert PDF software provides, Soda PDF Professional and Foxit PhantomPDF stood out due to their freehand drawing tools as well as their ability to redact text, collect data from forms and add digital signatures to documents.