SmallPDF Free (Web App)
Tracker PDF-XChange Editor Free (Windows)
More and more websites offer classical software functionality as a service online: for example, you upload a pdf file in your browser, click on a button to convert it to an excel spreadsheet and download the excel file – and this is exactly, how SmallPDF works. The web service, also called “software as a service” started some years ago and is based in Switzerland. Now it can perform most of the tasks for a user, a local PDF software on the PC would traditionally. You don’t even have to register. The only string attached is, that you can use SmallPDF only two times per hour for free or you must register and pay 6 euro per month. But if you already have a free PDF program like PDF-XChange Editor on your PC, which allows to perfom many PDF file operations and tasks locally, you can bookmark SmallPDF and add its additional rich functionality whenever your software reaches its limits.
One of my specific tests for SmallPDF was to upload a calendar in PDF format, originally created in InDesign, and convert it into an Excel file (.xlsx). This is rather difficult, because InDesign is a layout software and Excel is a spreadsheet tool, which means they work in completely different ways. You can see the result in the picture below, which artfully emulates the optic of the original calendar. The only serious alteration to the original was, that SmallPDF placed the legend with explanations not above the calendar, but on a different Excel sheet within the same workbook. The SmallPDF results are sometimes better than those of many local PDF Converters for Windows, as in this case, and they are at least satisfactory in most cases.
The digital signature functionality for PDF documents is of very limited use in the free version, because without registering you can’t save the image file containing your signature online, of course. SmallPDF offers a PDF reader application for download, too, but its very limited functionality suggests that you rather install the free Foxit Reader, which lets you sign as many PDFs as you wish locally or the most feature-rich free PDF tool for Windows I know right now, PDF-XChange Editor, on your computer.
These features are available for free up to 2 times per hour without registration:
- Compress the size of PDF files
- Convert JPG and other image formats to PDF
- PDF – Image Convert PDFs to image formats
- Merge PDF files
- Convert Word docs to PDF
- Convert PDF files to Word docs
- Convert Powerpoint PPT presentations to PDF files
- Convert PDF files to Powerpoint PPT presentations
- Convert Excel files to PDF files
- Convert PDF files to Excel files
- Rotate pages in a PDF file
- Remove and extract pages from a PDF file
- Protect PDF with password encryption
- Remove passwords from PDF
- Electronically sign single documents (but not saving the signature file)
SmallPDF is feature-rich, easy to use and gives high-quality output in most of the cases. It is the perfect online companion for selected document tasks which your offline PDF app can’t perform or en route.