How to convert a PDF file to a Google Doc with or without its original formatting

woman using computer at home
It’s possible to convert a PDF to a Google Doc, though the results may vary.

  • You can convert a PDF to a Google Doc if your PDF meets certain guidelines, like page orientation.
  • If you want to convert it with the formatting, you’ll need to have access to Microsoft Word.
  • Just be aware that the free version of Word doesn’t work with that conversion method.
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PDFs can be useful, but if you don’t own the file and need to make changes to it, that presents a problem. So converting it to a Google Doc can be a useful option. Just be aware that converting it can cause formatting issues – though converting it to a Word document first can help minimize those.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know.

How to convert a PDF to a Google Doc without formatting

1. Go to drive.google.com and log into your account, if needed.

2. Drag your PDF onto the Drive page to upload it. Or click the New button in the top-left corner of your Drive and choose File Upload and then select your PDF to upload.

Screenshot of the Add New menu in Google Drive
Select “File Upload” to begin the upload process.

3. Once uploaded, right-click the file and select Open with followed by Google Docs.

Screenshot of the "Open with" option for a file in Google Drive
Choose “Open with” and then Google Docs to open your PDF as a Google Doc.

It may take a few minutes for the PDF to convert to a Google Doc. Once it does, it will appear in your main Drive file area.

How to convert a PDF to a Google Doc with formatting

Microsoft Word is more accurate than Google Docs at preserving your PDF’s formatting. The catch here, of course, is that you’d have to have access to Word for this to be an option. And although there is a free version available online, this method doesn’t work with it.

1. Open the Microsoft Word desktop application.

2. Select Open and then choose the PDF you want to convert.

3. A pop-up message will then appear. Hit Ok to let it convert the PDF to a document. Once converted, the document will open in Word.

4. Choose File, Save as, and then select Word document. You may have to hit Enable editing to get this done.

5. Open your Google Drive.

6. Right-click in the folder you want to save your document to, then choose Upload files.

Screenshot of the Upload option in Google Drive
Upload your Word document to Google Drive.

7. Choose your Word document and hit Open.

8. Once the file has been added to your Google Drive, right-click it and choose Open with followed by Google Docs.

9. Click File and then Save As Google Docs.

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How to type on a PDF in 5 different ways

using phone and laptop texting
It’s much easier to add text to a PDF than you may think, and it can be done on any device.

PDFs are one of the most widely used document formats, but it isn’t always clear how to add text to them.

Fortunately, there are several methods available depending on the device you’re using.

Here’s how to type on a PDF, whether you’re using a Mac, PC, mobile device, or Microsoft Word.

How to type on a PDF on a Mac using Preview

Preview is the default option for viewing PDFs on Macs, and it has a built-in ability to type on those documents.

1. Double-click on the PDF you want to open. As long as you haven’t designated another option as the default PDF-viewing option, it will open in Preview. Otherwise, right-click the file and select Open with and then Preview.

Mac Open with Preview window
Next to “Open With,” select “Preview.”

2. Click the markup icon, located in the top toolbar of the preview window – it looks like a marker within a circle.

PDF open in Preview
Select the markup tool in the top-right corner.

3. Navigate to the page you want to add text to, and then select the Text icon (it looks like a “T” inside of a rectangle). A text box will then appear on the page.

PDF in Preview Text icon in toolbar
Click the “Text” icon in the toolbar at the top.

4. Click into the text box and add the desired text, then drag the box to the desired placement.

PDF in Preview add text box
Enter your text and move the box to the correct location.

5. You can change the font and text color by clicking into the text box, selecting the text, and then clicking the Aa button in the top toolbar. Or, if your document already has text fields, you can simply click into those and type.

PDF in Preview edit text
Click the “Aa” button to customize your text.

How to type on a PDF on a PC or Mac using Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

If you have Adobe’s Acrobat Reader DC (which is free to download) on your computer, you can use it to type on PDFs.

1. Open Adobe Acrobat Reader DC and select Fill & Sign.

Adobe Acrobat Reader homepage
Go to “Fill & Sign.”

2. Click Select a File and choose your desired PDF.

Adobe Acrobat Reader fill & sign page
Click “Select a File.”

3. Specify who needs to sign and fill out the PDF.

Adobe Acrobat who needs to fill and sign
Choose an option.

4. Scroll down to the page you want to add text to and hover over the desired area. You may see a highlighted text box appear, in which case you can simply click into it and start typing.

Adobe Acrobat fill-in text box
If a text box automatically appears, you can type directly into it.

5. If you don’t see a highlighted text box and you want an outline as well as text, click the oval-shaped icon in the top toolbar. Then click the area where you want to add a text box and adjust as desired.

Adobe Acrobat toolbar
Click the oval-shaped icon to add a text box.

6. Click the “Ab” icon in the top toolbar and click near, but not on, the area you just created.

7. Click into the new text area, add your text, and reposition as needed.

How to type on a PDF on an iPhone or iPad using Markup

Those with an iPhone or iPad can use the built-in Markup tool to add text to a PDF.

1. Open your PDF (you can access these via your email, cloud account, or by using AirDrop to send the document to your device.) If given the option, select Files – you won’t see Markup listed as an option – as the opening method.

2. Scroll down to the desired page and select the Markup tool in the top-right corner of the screen.

iPhone Markup tool on PDF
Tap the “Markup” icon.

3. Select the plus (+) sign icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen and select Text.

PDF on iPhone markup tool
Tap the plus sign and in the pop-up, select “Text.”

4. Adjust your text box as needed.

5. Tap the text box and select Edit.

PDF on iPhone markup
In the pop-up, tap “Edit.”

6. Add your text to the box and tap out of the box when complete. You can readjust the placement at this point as well.

PDF on iPhone type in text box
Enter your text and reposition the box as needed.

7. Tap Done when you’ve added all desired text to the PDF.

How to type on a PDF on an Android using Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

If you have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader app installed, you can type on PDFs on your Android device.

1. Open the Adobe Acrobat reader app and select Files in the bottom toolbar.

2. Find the PDF you want to type on and tap to select it.

3. Scroll to the desired page and select the pencil icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen

4. Tap Fill & Sign and then select the “Ab” icon.

5. Tap the area of the page you want to add text to and then select the desired text size and type out your text.

6. Select the check mark in the top-left corner of the screen to finish the process.

How to type on a PDF using Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is another easy option to modify a PDF, though it will involve converting the PDF into a Word document, which can disrupt stylized formatting. For this reason, it’s best to use Word for text-only PDFs.

1. Right-click your PDF, select Open With, and select Microsoft Word. You may see a message noting the appearance of your PDF may change – select Yes to continue.

2. Click into the document and type to edit it as you would any other document.

3. When finished, select File in the top-left corner of the window and then select Save As followed by PDF.

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How to digitally sign a PDF when you don’t have access to a printer and scanner

online form
You can digitally sign a PDF when you don’t have access to a printer or scanner, saving time and money.

These days, many people don’t own a printer or scanner, and with so many people working from home, something as simple as signing a document can quickly become tedious and frustrating. Fortunately, technology has come a long way, and it’s now possible to sign a PDF document digitally – no more printing or scanning required. Here’s our guide on how to digitally sign a PDF so you don’t have to buy printer ink again.

How to sign a PDF online for free

If you only sign PDFs digitally occasionally, or you use a Chromebook, Adobe or Preview may not work for you. In this case, many websites and applications also exist online that allow you to digitally sign a PDF for free. Services like HelloSign and DocuSign are easy to use and allow you to digitally sign a certain number of PDFs per month before requiring any subscription fee. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to upload the PDF into the chosen site before you can sign it.

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How to combine multiple PDF files into a single document on a Mac or PC

business professional using laptop in home office
You can easily combine multiple PDF files no matter what type of computer you’re using.

The Portable Document Format (PDF) is one of the most commonly used file types around.

PDFs are primarily shareable text or photo documents accessible to anyone who has a computer or smartphone. Unlike a Word file, which requires Microsoft Word to view or edit, most browsers will open a PDF.

That’s useful when sharing files with friends or colleagues, especially if you don’t know what software they have; PDFs are the one-size-fits-all option. You can also be sure your document’s format won’t change regardless of what kind of device is accessing your file.

But let’s say you have one or more documents to share. Instead of sending multiple attachments in an email, you can combine and organize multiple PDFs into one file. 

Mac users can do this using the Preview app that comes with your computer.

PC users will have to download software, but many of these programs are free and easy to use.

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