If you want to convert PDF to Word on Mac, you have five main options.
Your first two options are built into the MacOS (Preview and Automator). The other three PDF-to-Word conversion methods require an internet connection (Google Docs, Adobe Acrobat, or an online PDF to Word converter).
1. Using Preview
Pro(s): very easy
Con(s): the format doesn’t transfer smoothly from PDF to Word, and it’s not technically a “conversion”
Unfortunately, there’s no way to neatly convert PDF to Word in Preview. However, taking the text from your PDF and moving it to Word isn’t difficult if you don’t need the formatting to be perfect.
Here’s how to quickly take the text from your PDF and export it to Word (by copy-pasting it):
1. Right-click your PDF file
2. Select “Open With” and click on the Preview app
3. Use the “Command + a” keyboard shortcut to select all of the text
4. Next, use the “Comand + c” keyboard shortcut to copy the text of the PDF
5. Open Microsoft Word, then press “Command + v” to paste the text from your PDF to Word
Tip: When you paste your text, you can remove the formatting by using the shortcut “Command + Shift + v”. This is particularly useful when copying text from website pages into a Word document.
2. Launching Automator
Pro(s): better at maintaining your PDF’s format than simply copy-pasting your text
Con(s): not intuitive, more steps required
Automator is a tool you may not even know exists on your Mac. But it does exist, and it’s effective at turning a PDF into a plain or rich text file, which can then be opened with Microsoft Word.
Here’s how to change PDF to Word on Mac using the Automator app:
1. Use the LaunchPad to locate the Automator tool (it looks like a cool robot)
2. Open Automator, select “Workflow”, and click the blue “Choose” button
3. Click “PDFs” in the sidebar (there should be a little red PDF icon next to it)
4. Make sure your PDF file is visible on your desktop, then drag it into the empty Window inside the Automator app
5. Click and drag “Extract PDF Text”, and drop it below your PDF file window
6. Set your Output to “Rich Text” (to retain formatting), and select where you want your new file to save by using the “Save Output to” dropdown
7. Click “Run” in the top right corner of Automator, and your new text file will download to wherever you saved it. Finally, you can open your new text file within Word as a DOCX file.
3. With Google Docs
Pro(s): free, straightforward, most people are familiar with Google’s range of web apps
Con(s): the formatting of complex PDFs doesn’t always transfer perfectly
If you already have a gmail account, then you have access to Google Docs. Converting a PDF into a Google Doc is easy, at which point turning your file into DOCX takes only a couple of clicks.
1. Open Google Docs (you can type “docs.new” into your Chrome search bar to automatically open a new Google Doc)
2. Click the “File” dropdown, then click “Open”
3. Select the “Upload” tab, and click the blue “Select a file from your device” button
4. Find your PDF, and “Open” it
5. Click “Open with Google Docs” at the top of your document
6. Now that your PDF is a Google Doc, all you need to do is click “File”, hover over the “Download” submenu, then click “Microsoft Word (.docx)” to export your newly converted DOCX to your browser.
4. Via Adobe Acrobat
Pro(s): clean and pretty straightforward converter tool
Con(s): requires an Adobe Acrobat subscription
The Portable Document Format (PDF) was created by Adobe in 1992, so it makes sense that they have their own PDF-to-Word conversion tool.
To convert your PDF to Word using a Mac or any type of computer, you can use the Adobe Acrobat software (and the free trial lasts seven days, so take advantage of it if you want).
1. Open your PDF using Adobe Acrobat
2. Click “See All Tools” (it’s in a small rectangle box near the top right of your screen on Mac)
3. In the right sidebar or on the center of the screen, click the teal “Export PDF” icon
3. Make sure “Microsoft Word” is selected, and click “Export”
4. Choose where you want to save your new Word document, and name your file
5. Using a PDF to Word converter tool
Pro(s): easy, free
Con(s): requires an internet connection
1. Open the PDF to Word converter page
2. Click “Choose File” (or drag and drop it on the window)
3. Select the PDF you want to convert to Word, and click “Open”
4. Click “Download”, and your new Word document will automatically download to your browser (or you can save and export it to your Google Drive if you prefer)
And that’s it! Now you know how to convert PDF to Word on Mac in five different ways (assuming you have an internet connection, which you needed to access this guide).