How to Convert PDF to Word Files on Mac

The easiest way to manipulate documents

Given how common the PDF and World document file formats are, you'd think there would be an easy way to convert PDFs into Word docs. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

Convert to Word for Easier Editing

The main benefit of turning a PDF into a Word file is that it makes it easy to edit and format in Microsoft Word. When you're done editing in Word, you can convert it to a PDF file using the Export function under the File tab.

To convert your PDF to a Word file, you need some extra tools. Here are three ways to do it.

Convert With a Free Web-Based Tool

The easiest and fastest way to convert a PDF to a Word file that you can open on your Mac is to use one of the many free, web-based converter tools. This example uses Smallpdf.

Smallpdf's PDF to Word converter tool is free to use but the site offers more tools and features with its paid premium plans.

  1. Open smallpdf.com/pdf-to-word in a web browser on your Mac. Drag the PDF into the blue space on the web page or select Choose Files to locate the PDF and upload it.

    Smallpdf website showing file upload area
  2. If the PDF file is stored in your Google Drive account or your Dropbox account, select the arrow icon next to Choose Files and then select From Google Drive or From Dropbox to open Google Drive or Dropbox and select the file directly from your account.

    PDF upload options at Smallpdf website

    It might take several seconds or longer for the conversion progress to be completed, depending on the size of the file and the speed of your internet connection.

  3. After the conversion is finished, select the down arrow beside the file name to download it as a DOCX file.

    Smallpdf web page showing download arrow

    You can also select the envelope icon to generate a link on the web, the Dropbox icon to save it to your Dropbox account, or the Google Drive icon to save it to your Google Drive account.

Use Adobe Acrobat Pro DC for Mac to Convert

It's possible to covert a PDF to a Word file directly from the PDF document itself—but only if you're using a premium Adobe Acrobat Pro DC plan. This plan offers a complete PDF solution for both Windows and Mac starting at $15 a month with a seven-day free trial.

This article uses the free trial version of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.

  1. Go to acrobat.adobe.com/us/en/acrobat/how-to/pdf-to-word-doc-converter.html in a web browser.

  2. Select Start free trial and then select Get started.

    A screenshot of Adobe.com.
  3. On the following page, enter your email address into the field and use the drop-down list to select the plan you want to sign up for (monthly, prepaid annual, or annual paid monthly). Select Continue when you're done.

    A screenshot of Adobe.com.

    If you only want to test the service, cancel the plan before the seven-day trial is up to avoid being charged.

  4. On the following page, create or sign into your Adobe account by entering your password.

    A screenshot of Adobe.com.
  5. Enter your payment information on the next page and select Start free trial.

  6. Once your payment information has been accepted, select Get started.

    A screenshot of Adobe.com.
  7. Acrobat Pro DC begins downloading to your Mac. When the download is complete, double-click the downloaded file to start the installation and follow the instructions.

    A screenshot of Acrobat DC Installer.
  8. When the Acrobat Pro DC Installer window appears, enter your email and password and select Sign in.

    A screenshot of the Adobe DC Installer.
  9. Use the drop-down lists to answer the questions. Select Continue when you're done.

  10. Select Start Installing. The installation may take several minutes.

    A screenshot of Acrobat DC Installer.
  11. When the installation is complete, the Acrobat Pro DC application automatically opens. Select Open File to locate and select the PDF file you'd like to convert.

    Adobe Pro DC With option to open a PDF file
  12. In the vertical menu on the right of the PDF file, select Export PDF.

    Acrobat Pro DC with Export PDF highlighted
  13. On the next page, make sure that the Microsoft Word option is highlighted in blue. Optionally, select the gear icon to make adjustments to your DOCX settings. Then select Export.

    Acrobat Pro DC export PDF to Word screen
  14. Use the next window to choose where you want to save the file on your Mac. Optionally, rename the file and select Save. Once the conversion is complete, the file automatically opens in Word.

Convert With an Existing Application on Your Mac

The final way to convert a PDF into a Word document involves using an application called Automator, which comes installed on all Mac computers. This application helps you automate certain tasks by creating workflows. Although it cannot convert PDF files directly to DOC or DOCX file formats, you can use Automator to save PDFs as rich text files, which you can then open in Word and then save as a Word file.

The following instructions apply to Macs running macOS 10.4 or later.

  1. Open the Applications folder and select the Automator application icon.

    Applications folder on a Mac with Automator icon highlighted
  2. Select Workflow in the Choose a type for your document window and select Choose.

    Automator application for Mac with Workflow selected
  3. In the vertical column farthest to the left of the window, choose Files & Folders.

    In the middle column, select Ask for Finder Items and drag it into the open space to the right. You'll see a new box appear.

    Automator application for Mac with Ask for Finder Items selected
  4. In the same screen, select PDFs in the column farthest to the left.

    In the middle column, select Extract PDF Text and drag it into the open space to the right, beneath the first box. Another box appears.

    Automator application for Mac with Extract PDF Text highlighted
  5. In the Extract PDF Text box, select Rich Text instead of Plain Text for the Output.

    Rich Text selecting for Extract PDF Text Output
  6. Select File > Save and give your newly created workflow a name in the drop-down window. Select Application instead of Workflow next to File Format. You can now save it anywhere on your Mac.

    Automator application for Mac with Application selected as the file format
  7. Go to the folder where you just saved the workflow app and double-click it to open the folder. Double-click the robot icon with the name you assigned it.

    A screenshot of a Mac.
  8. Select the PDF file and then select Choose. The PDF file is automatically converted and saved as a Rich Text document in the same folder where the original PDF file was saved.

  9. Right click on the newly created Rich Text document, hover your cursor over Open With and select Word. Once opened in Word, you can save the file as a standard Word file.

Whenever you want to convert a PDF to a Word file, you can use the workflow application you created in the above steps. Consider keeping it on your computer so you don't have to create a new one every time you want to convert a PDF to a Word file.

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