Customize PDFs online with these tools

Playing with PDFs is one of those tasks that can be a pain. But with the help of these online PDF tools, you might find it just a bit easier.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

Portable Document Formats (PDFs) are one of those file formats that can cause quite a headache. Sometimes, you want to convert them to a Word file. Other times, you want to convert the Word file to a PDF. But doing so isn't always easy.

Luckily for you, there are a variety of online tools that can modify PDF files quickly and easily. Here are some of my favorites that work right in your browser:

Create Adobe PDF Online does a number of things well. It can convert a variety of file formats to PDF including applications and Web pages. It can also combine multiple PDFs into a single file. When you choose to convert a file, you have the option of getting it e-mailed to you in an attachment, or simply have it load up in your browser. In either case, it takes a couple of minutes for it to deliver the finished product, making it a little slower than some of the other tools in this roundup. If you can wait though, it works quite well.

Create PDF
Webware -- in PDF -- thanks to Create Adobe PDF Online. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Document Converter eXPress from Neevia is a feature-packed app that lets you convert files from any number of formats into a PDF. You can choose from image files like JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and BMP. You're also able to roll back the file's compatibility to be able to work with previous versions of Adobe Acrobat, dating back to version 3.0. There's also a tool to add encryption and a watermark.

Document eXPress lets you go back in time with Acrobat. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Loop PDF is one of the simplest PDF conversion tools in this roundup. You have to create an account to use it, but after you do, the free tool lets you add PDFs from your computer or URLs, and combine them into a single document. You can also convert other file types into PDFs. Loop PDF easily converted files in just a few seconds for me.

Loop PDF
Loop PDF makes it quick and easy to upload files. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

PDF Hammer lets you edit PDF files right in your browser. Once you pick the file you want to edit, you can upload it to PDF Hammer. The tool then allows you to perform your edits and save the revised file back on your computer. You can also merge multiple PDF files into one, add a password to the file, and update its metadata. See our write-up of PDF Hammer.

PDF Hammer
PDF Hammer gives you all the directions you need to get the job done. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

PDF-o-matic PDF-o-matic converts a Web page to PDF. It's not the prettiest site in this roundup, but it makes it dead simple to convert entire Web pages into PDFs. Simply input the URL of the site you want to convert in the box placed prominently in the middle of the page and PDF-o-matic will do the rest. It's quick and easy.

PDF-o-matic turns CBSNews.com into a PDF. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

PDF Online is actually three tools in one. It converts Word documents to PDF, PDF files to Word documents, or Web sites to PDF. When you pick which operation you want to perform, it takes just a couple minutes to get the right file format. Once you choose the file you want to convert, you'll need to assign it a name and provide your e-mail address. It then uploads your file and sends you the finished product as an attachment in an e-mail. In my experience, it took no more than a minute to get the file back.

PDF Online
PDF Online sends you an e-mail with your attachment. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

PDF to Word does what you might expect: it converts PDF files to Microsoft Word and rich text formatted documents. It's a simple tool that is one of the more convenient resources in this roundup. Simply find the PDF file you want to upload, pick .Doc or .Rtf, and input your e-mail address. In just a few minutes, you'll receive an e-mail from the service with your new file.

PDF to Word
PDF to Word gives you step-by-step instructions. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Zamzar makes it easy to upload files and have them converted to a variety of file types, including PDF, Ogg, and many more. Whether it's a file or a Web site, Zamzar can convert anything you want into practically every file type under the sun. And since it's free, it's even more attractive. I would have liked its load times to be a little faster, but with so many supported file types, it's not such a big deal.

Ogg in Zamzar? You better believe it. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

My top 3

If you want to convert PDF files as soon as possible, make sure you use these sites first.

1. Create Adobe PDF Online: There's something to be said for trusting a reputable company.

2. Zamzar: With all those file formats, how can you go wrong?

3. Loop PDF: Speed and a great design make Loop PDF a winner.