By Megon VenterTue. 31 Oct. 20233min Read

How to Convert PDFs to Text File Format

In this blog, we will guide you through how to convert PDFs to text file format to help you with data analysis, reporting and more.
How to Convert PDFs to Text File Format

Converting PDFs to text files is a common requirement, and it's a straightforward process when done correctly. In this blog, we'll explore the purpose of text file format, best practices for converting PDFs to text, and answer frequently asked questions to help you make this conversion a breeze.

Megon Venter
B2B SaaS Content Writer
Megon is a B2B SaaS Content Writer with 7 years of experience in content strategy and execution. Her expertise lies in the creation of document management tutorials and product comparisons.

How to Convert PDFs to Text File Format on Windows

Use our OCR, an advanced text recognition tool to convert PDFs to text files or other lightweight file formats on your Windows operating system.


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Step 1: Open Your PDF File

Click "Open File" or use the drag-and-drop option.

Step 2: Click the "OCR" Function

This tool is great for image files and scanned documents.

Image Source: PDF Reader Pro

Step 3: Alter Conversion Settings

Start the OCR process by clicking the blue button.

Image Source: PDF Reader Pro

Step 4: Click "Save as TXT"

Save your output file as text by clicking the blue button.

Image Source: PDF Reader Pro


How to Convert PDFs to Text File Format on Mac

Use our handy PDF editor to convert your PDF files to text format on your Mac operating system by following the steps below. 

Step 1: Open Your PDF Document

Drag and drop your file onto the Home screen or click "Open File" on the top-left. 

Image Source: PDF Reader Pro

Step 2: Click the "OCR" Tool

This tool recognizes text in images and scanned documents. 

Image Source: PDF Reader Pro

Step 3: Pop-up window

Click the OCR convert button in the center to extract text.

Image Source: PDF Reader Pro

Step 4: Click "Save as TXT"

This will save your output file as an editable text file. 

Image Source: PDF Reader Pro

"As a content creator, having a reliable PDF reader and editor is crucial. PDF Reader Pro’s editing and conversion tools help me easily navigate tasks for every client."
Megon Venter
B2B SaaS Content Writer
Source: LinkedIn

You can also check our recommendations on How to Use Microsoft Office to Print to PDF.


The Purpose of Text File Format

Text file format, also known as plain text or .txt, serves several crucial purposes:

  1. Readability: Text files contain plain, unformatted text, making them highly readable and compatible with a wide range of applications.

  2. Editability: Unlike PDFs, which are often designed for unalterable content, text files can be easily edited with various text editors.

  3. Portability: Text files are lightweight and easily shared across different devices and platforms.

  4. Data Extraction: A PDF converter that changes PDFs to text allows for data extraction, making it useful for tasks such as text mining, content analysis, and data entry.

  5. Accessibility: Plain text is screen-reader friendly and accessible to individuals with visual impairments.


Best Practice for Converting PDFs to Text

Follow these best practices when converting PDF forms to text files:

  1. Choose the Right Conversion Tool: Use specialized PDF-to-text conversion software or online converters. 

  2. Select the Appropriate Text Encoding: When configuring your conversion tool, choose the appropriate text encoding (usually UTF-8) to ensure proper character display.

  3. Check the PDF Quality: High-quality, text-based PDFs convert more accurately. Scanned PDFs, which are essentially images, may require OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to convert into selectable text.

  4. Configure Conversion Settings: Adjust settings according to your needs. For example, choose whether you want to convert the entire document or specific pages, and decide how you want to handle fonts and formatting.

  5. Convert and Review: Initiate the conversion process on the editable PDF file and review the resulting text file. Ensure the text is legible and correctly formatted.

  6. Edit if Necessary: Depending on the PDF's complexity and the conversion tool used, you may need to perform minor text editing to correct formatting issues.

  7. Save and Organize: Save the text file in a location of your choice, and consider organizing it with a meaningful filename and folder structure.

  8. Backup the Original PDF: Keep a backup of the original PDF, especially if it contains critical information, for future reference.


"PDF Reader Pro has been a game-changer for document accessibility, offering solutions that make inclusivity a norm in document sharing."
Theodore Cipolla
B2B SaaS Content Marketer
Source: LinkedIn

You can also check our article resource for more information on How to Export Figma to PDF.

Converting PDFs to Text File Format: FAQs

Now, let's address some frequently asked questions about using our PDF converter to get a text output format:


Can I convert any type of PDF to text?

Text-based PDFs, which contain selectable text, can be easily converted to text document file types. For scanned PDFs or image-only PDFs, OCR (Optical Character Recognition) in your PDF editor app may be required to extract text.


What is OCR, and why might I need it for text extraction?

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is a technology that converts images of text into machine-readable plain text files. You might need additional features like OCR for scanned PDFs or PDFs containing non-selectable text and graphical elements.


Can I convert encrypted or password-protected PDFs to text?

Converting encrypted or password-protected PDFs may require entering the password to unlock the original file. Ensure you have the necessary permissions to access the protected PDF to create an export file.


How does text file format differ from other formats like DOC or RTF?

Text files are plain, unformatted documents with a .txt extension. They lack the rich formatting features found in DOC (Microsoft Word) or RTF (Rich Text Format) files. Output file formats like text files are simple and primarily used for raw text content.


Can I convert a batch of PDFs to text files simultaneously?

Many conversion tools, especially desktop software, allow batch conversions, making it convenient to convert multiple PDFs to text files at once.


What's the difference between plain text and rich text formats when converting PDFs?

Plain text format (TXT) contains only raw text without formatting, while rich text formats like DOC or RTF can preserve various formatting elements such as original file fonts, colors, and styles. Converting to plain text is ideal when you want to strip away all formatting for simplicity.


Can I extract tables or images when converting PDFs to text?

The correct tool for text extraction focuses on textual content. To extract tables or images, you would need to use different extraction methods or tools, such as PDF-to-Excel converters for tables or image extraction software for accurate conversion of images.


What should I do if the converted text file contains garbled or incorrect characters?

Garbled or incorrect characters can result from encoding issues or PDF complexities. To address this, try converting with a different text encoding, or consider using OCR for PDFs with non-selectable text. For complex PDFs, manual editing may be necessary.


Is there a limit to the file size when converting PDFs to text?

Some PDF-to-text conversion tools may impose file size limits for free or online versions. Premium or desktop tools often offer larger file size limits, or you can split a large PDF into smaller sections for conversion.


Can I batch convert multiple PDFs to text files in a single operation?

Yes, many PDF-to-text conversion tools, especially desktop software, support batch conversions, allowing you to convert multiple PDFs to text files simultaneously. This is a time-saving feature when dealing with large numbers of PDF documents.


By addressing these additional FAQs, you'll have a more comprehensive understanding of the intricacies and considerations when converting PDFs to text files, enabling you to navigate the process effectively and make the most of your text-based content.

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