Monday, March 15, 2010

the 3 Best Online PDF to JPEG Converters (TIFF/ JPG/PNG): Review

When you need to modify a PDF file before using it, it is often necessary to convert it to another format. This happened to me recently as I downloaded an old IRS form, and discovered that the version available on line could not be scanned by IRS computers. How do you convert a PDF file into another format?

1. Web Applications - uploading your file for conversion: Zamzar

Every application you install on your computer is a little bit more destabilizing to your operating system. If you do it often enough, you will eventually need a reinstall - it is only a matter of time. So, unless this is a workflow that is truly often needed, it is in general best to look for web app solutions. We should all carry a fairly strong preference for doing what we need to do off the desktop.

It turns out that there is an excellent web app for converting PDF files to JPEGs (or to other formats) on line: Zamzar allows you to upload a file, choose an output format, and give your email address to receive the converted file. A 50kB PDF file (the maximum is 100MB) typically takes 7 minutes to make it to your inbox, varying from 2 minutes to 15 minutes. In order to avoid too much spam mail, I use a consumable address for such uses, which I change every few years, when spam has become too much.

Other web apps that we tested, Neevia's Document Converter Xpress, ConvertPDFtoImage, and YouConvertIt, have not been reliable.

2. Printer driver conversion: ImagePrinter

A printer driver is easy to install to your computer, and reasonably painless to remove as well. A little- known virtual printer driver, ImagePrinter, allows you to convert a PDF to several graphical file formats. It is invoked as a printer from any Windows application. Once you have installed it, to set up the output format, look for ImagePrinter in your Startup Menu, select Options, ImagePrinter, open the File Format tab, then pick your format and compression. To set up the output target directory, pick the System tab, then browse to the target directory (the default is the My Documents folder). Make sure, in the same System tab, to select "save original name" otherwise it will use a default name for all. To convert the file, open with your PDF viewer, click Print on the File Menu, then select the ImagePrinter printer, and print.

Another driver frequently mentioned, the Universal Document Converter, while powerful, adds in a watermark to the output file in its free version.

3. Desktop utility: PDF Xchange Viewer

This efficient, feature-laden PDF viewer and annotator deserves to be much better known than it is today. PDF Xchange Viewer, once installed, can open your PDF file. By selecting Export under the File Menu for this utility, you can specify the output format, quality, target directory etc. This utility can do much more than file conversion, although its power comes with a significant learning curve - it is less than intuitive. Be extremely watchful, however, in the install process, as default options will install bloatware, self updating utilities, and browser bars.

Omniformat, and Office Convert PDF to JPG JPEG TIFF, other desktop utilities, were not reliable when tested and are not recommended. We had more success with PDF2Image, a $59 commercial utility with a 30-day trial period.

4. Doing it by hand: PrintScreen

The old-fashioned way of doing it is to capture the screen with the native Windows tools or with third party tools, then to import the result into a simple image editor such as Windows Paint, and finally to save in the required format. This may, however, possibly compromise the original print resolution.

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