I am aware of solutions that allow one to extract text from a pdf file. Are there any practical solutions on the Mac to extract rich text and layout from a PDF, or somehow convert a PDF into some editable format without losing all formatting, and without multi-column layouts ending up with the text from each column interwoven?

  • 2
    That's pretty much the Holy Grail you're talking about. As far as I know, you probably won't find a perfect solution--just something sort of close to it. PDF's are notoriously difficult to convert properly, let alone perfectly.
    – Dante
    Oct 11, 2011 at 0:31
  • Any approximation of accurate is better than doing it all by hand.
    – Daniel
    Oct 11, 2011 at 0:32

2 Answers 2


If you just want to edit the content of the PDF, Adobe Acrobat (full version) can do that. It can change/add/delete text, images, objects, etc.

  • D'oh. I hadn't even thought of that route. Good call. So obvious, and yet I was so oblivious.
    – Daniel
    Oct 11, 2011 at 12:51

A good converting site is zamzar.com. Not perfect, but quite good!

  • What does good and perfect mean in this context, what is your experience with the service?
    – nohillside
    Oct 11, 2011 at 17:51
  • zamzar didn't work for my converting from a PDF to HTML, but it did successfully convert (the same PDF) to DOCX. Oct 1, 2012 at 21:00

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