How to Convert PDF to Word Files on Mac

The easiest way to manipulate documents

Illustration of a computer with a document file on the screen.

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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 documents. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

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 easily convert it to a PDF file using the Export function under the File tab.

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

How to Convert PDF to Word Files Using 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. For this example, we will use Smallpdf.

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

  1. Navigate to smallpdf.com/pdf-to-word on a web browser.

    A screenshot of Smallpdf.com.
  2. Open Finder on your Mac, navigate to the folder where your PDF is saved, select the PDF file and drag it into the blue space on the web page.

    A screenshot of the Finder app for Mac.

    Alternatively, select Choose Files to open a file upload window, select the respective PDF file, then select Open.

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

    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 instantly download it as a DOCX file.

    A screenshot of Smallpdf.com.

    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.

How to Convert PDF to Word Files Using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC for Mac

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.

We'll be using the free trial version of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC in the following steps.

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

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

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

    A screenshot of Adobe.com.

    If you'd only like to test the service, you can cancel the plan before the seven-day trial is up and 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, then select Start free trial.

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

    A screenshot of Adobe.com.
  7. Acrobat Pro DC will begin downloading to your Mac. Once 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, then select Sign in.

    A screenshot of the Adobe DC Installer.
  9. Use the dropdown 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. Once the installation is complete, the Acrobat Pro DC application will automatically open. Select Open File to locate and select the PDF file you'd like to convert

    A screenshot of Adobe Pro DC.
  12. In the vertical menu on the right of your PDF file, select Export PDF.

    A screenshot of Acrobat Pro DC.
  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.

    A screenshot of Acrobat Pro DC.
  14. Select Export, then use the next window to choose where you want to save the file on your Mac.

  15. Optionally, rename the file and select Save. Once the conversion is complete, the file will automatically open in Word.

How to Convert PDF to Word Files Using 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 is used to help you automate certain tasks by creating workflows. Although it will not convert PDF files directly to DOC or DOCX file formats, you can use Automator to save PDFs as Rich Text files (TXT), which you can then use to open in Word and then save as a Word file.

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

  1. Open your Applications folder.

    A screenshot of the Applications app for Mac.
  2. Select the Automator application, marked by the robot image.

    A screenshot of the Applications folder on a Mac.
  3. In the window that asks you to choose a type for your document, select Workflow, then select Choose.

    A screenshot of the Automator application for Mac.
  4. In the vertical column farthest to the left side of the window, select Files & Folders.

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

    A screenshot of the Automator application for Mac.
  6. Now go back to the column farthest to the left and select PDFs.

  7. In the vertical column in the middle, select Extract PDF Text and drag it again into the open space to the right, beneath the first box. Another box will appear.

    A screenshot of the Automator application for Mac.
  8. In the Extract PDF Text box, select Rich Text instead of Plain Text for the Output.

  9. Select File > Save to give your newly created workflow a name and select the File Format dropdown list to select Application instead of Workflow. You can now save it anywhere on your Mac.

    A screenshot of the Automator application for Mac.
  10. Go to the folder where you just saved the workflow app and double-click it. (It should appear as a robot icon.) A file window will pop up.

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

  12. 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.