Ever since Adobe introduced the Portable Document Format way back in 1993, it has been steadily gaining popularity to become what it is today – a first choice file format for sharing and archiving digital documents.
Businesses of all sizes and professionals in every industry are using PDFs on a daily basis.
The biggest advantage the PDF has over other popular file formats is its ability to display content properly on every device. Nowadays, even if you don’t have any software installed on your computer, you can read PDFs directly in your browser of choice or online service such as Google Docs.
Nevertheless, you will eventually need to do more with PDF files than just read them. For example, you might want to quickly convert them to other file formats like Microsoft Word or PowerPoint instead of manually retyping the data for further use, redact sensitive data before uploading them online, or annotate them for collaboration purposes.
That’s why having a tool that can do all of this is essential if you want to stay productive and on top of your competition.
One software that claims to simplify and speed up the process of manipulating PDF data is Able2Extract Professional 12. We took the opportunity to test it and present you with our first-hand experience while using it.
Requirements and Installation
Able2Extract is a cross-platform software, running on Windows (also available at Microsoft Windows App Store and compatible even with Windows XP), Mac (backward compatibility to Mac OS X 10.8), and Linux (Ubuntu and Fedora distributions).
The software requires 512+ MB of RAM available and 200 MB of disk space.
As usual, an installation wizard is there to guide even the most inexperienced users through the process. We’d like to point out that no bloatware (additional software, browser toolbars, add-ons, etc.) comes with the software.
At the First Glance
When we started Able2Extract Professional 12, balloon tips were there to help us understand how it works. Even though it’s definitely helpful, we found the interface to be straightforward and easy to grasp without any assistance.
The Command toolbar on the top contains large icons which are essentially shortcuts. The Main menu “hides” even more features and advanced settings, but we’re going to cover those on another occasion.
On the left, there are interchangeable panels for the quick access to PDF pages, bookmarks, and attachments.
On the right, there’s an Annotation panel (with properties and comments) in the tool’s default Conversion mode. When we switched to Edit mode by clicking on the Edit icon, the panels changed to give us options for Content and PDF form editing.
On the bottom, there’s a Navigation bar for scrolling through pages, rotating them, and zooming in or out of the page.
In this review we’re going to focus on 3 features that we found the most useful in our everyday work. Of course, this kind of powerful software will be used differently across industries and professions, but we chose to focus on the Able2Extract’s ability to convert, edit, and secure PDFs as we believe those are the most attractive features for its users.
You can learn about all the features Able2Extract brings to the table here.
Able2Extract can convert PDF to over a dozen most popular file formats. Some of them include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, AutoCAD, JPEG.
We found that PDF conversion speed and accuracy are the biggest strengths of this software, especially when it comes to extracting tables with its Custom PDF to Excel conversion. The advanced PDF to Excel options give users the ability to customize the output result and make sure every value is in the right spreadsheet cell, saving time on cleaning up the data afterwards. That’s something we didn’t come across in any of the other competing programs.
Able2Extract comes with an OCR engine included, so we were able to convert even scanned documents with good results. One more benefit of having Optical Character Recognition at your disposal is that you can make long scanned PDFs searchable–no need to go through hundreds of pages looking for a specific keyword, let the software do the heavy lifting for you.
To round up, we’d like to point out the Batch conversion option. We uploaded 3 folders containing miscellaneous file formats. Able2Extract scanned those directories and converted all the PDF files it found in a matter of seconds.
Its editing options really came in handy when we needed to quickly change some parts of the PDF or add new information.
As explained before, the editing panel with content and PDF form editing options will show on the right once the user enters Edit mode by clicking the Edit icon in the Command toolbar.
By doing so, we were able to delete, move, resize, and insert PDF pages. Just by clicking on the PDF text and typing we changed the PDF content right on the page. Able2Extract recognizes paragraphs and blocks of text, so we even adjusted the alignment and line spacing. Furthermore, images and vector shapes can be added to existing PDF content. Every option has its own additional properties for refining the appearance of text and images, such as font, size, borders, etc.
With these editing options we efficiently prepared the old PDF document for reuse: changed the date, updated the text, and inserted new graphics. Not needing to do everything from scratch saved us a lot of time.
A lot of documents circulating in the business environment contain sensitive information. That’s why we think the software’s ability to create a secure PDF is a useful feature.
Users can secure their files by setting password-protection and PDF permissions to allow or disallow:
- Adding Comments
- Filling in Forms
- Assembling Documents
Users can choose from two pricing models:
- Lifetime license for $149.95
- Monthly subscription for $34.95
There’s also a 14-day money-back guarantee, so users can get a full refund if for any reason they’re unsatisfied with the product.
Of course, we suggest downloading the 7-day trial and trying Able2Extract Professional 12 for free in order to understand what kind of a PDF productivity powerhouse it really is without any commitment up front.
If you’ve had experience with previous versions of Able2Extract or have some thoughts on dealing with PDFs, feel free to leave a comment below.