How to Convert PDF to Google Doc

Google gives its users several ways to upload, open, and convert files using Google Docs. If you want to upload a PDF to Google Docs to make it editable, you can do so with a few clicks within Google Docs itself.

There are two ways to convert a PDF to Google Doc.

The first way is faster, and lets you open your PDF in Google Docs without the PDF’s original formatting. If you only need to edit the text, this is your best option.

The second way requires either a Word processor (like Microsoft Word or Apache OpenOffice Writer), or a PDF to DOCX converter. This method lets you convert PDF to Google Doc without losing the formatting of your original file. It takes a few extra steps, but if the formatting of your PDF matters then this method will keep your PDF’s format (mostly) the same.

Upload PDF to Google Docs the fast way (and lose formatting)

Here’s how to open a PDF in Google Docs in five steps:

1. Click “File” inside Google Docs

2. Click “Open

Inside Google Docs, you must first click File then Open to begin converting your PDF
When it doubt, begin by clicking “File”

3. Make sure you’re on the “Upload” tab, then click the blue button in the center of your screen (“Select a file from your device”)

When converting PDF to Google Docs, you must first select the appropriate PDF file from your device. This image highlights the button you must first click to begin the upload process
The Google Docs UI is pretty intuitive

4. Locate the PDF on your computer, and click “Open

Image highlighting how to open a PDF that's saved to your computer
If you often have trouble finding your PDFS and other files, try organizing file types into different folders.

5. Your PDF is now in a ‘View Only’ mode. To finally open your PDF inside Google Docs, click “Open in Google Docs” at the top of the page.

Image highlighting the Open with Google Docs button that you need to click to make your PDF open in Google Docs
The last and final step for opening your PDF in Google Docs.

Convert PDF to Google Doc without losing formatting

As mentioned earlier, you need a Word processor or PDF converter to keep the formatting of your PDF intact when converting it to Google Docs. 

We’ll explain the process using Microsoft Word, but if you’re using Apache OpenOffice or LibreOffice, they work about the same. The main idea is you need first convert your PDF to a DOCX file, then open that DOCX file within the Google Docs application.

1. Open Microsoft Word

2. Click “File

3. Click “Open

4. Locate your PDF, click “Open”, wait a couple of seconds, and your PDF is now an editable DOCX file

Image highlighting how Microsoft Word automatically converts PDFs when you open them within Word
Microsoft Word makes it easy to convert Word to PDF, as well as turn PDFs back into Word documents.

5. Click “File” and “Save as” to save your new DOCX file to your computer

6. Open Google Docs

7. Click “File” -> “Open” -> “Select a file from your device” -> find the DOCX file (your former PDF) and click “Open

Your old PDF is now a Google Doc with roughly the same formatting.

And if you ever see “.DOCX” at the top of your Google Doc page, that means your page isn’t actually a Google Doc yet — it’s still a Word file. To change your .DOCX to Google Docs, simply click “File” and “Save as a Google Doc” in the dropdown menu.

Image highlighting how to save a .DOCX file as a Google Doc within Google Docs
A helpful trick if you ever need to turn a Word document into a Google Doc.

Lastly, you can save a Google Doc as a PDF or other file types as well. Google Workspace applications like Docs and Google Sheets are compatible with most widely used file formats, so use them to your advantage!

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