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Convert PDFs to HTML, SWF and more with PDFMate PDF Converter

30 January 2013, Mike Williams

Adobe’s PDF is a great format for sharing information with others, and normally you might go to considerable effort to export a particular file as a PDF document.

Occasionally, though, you might have an existing PDF file which you’d really prefer to be in another format: HTML, plain text, images, whatever it might be. That’s when a PDF conversion tool comes in handy, and the free PDFMate PDF Converter – which claims to export your documents to EPUB, TXT, HTML, SWF and image formats, amongst others – just might be able to help.

After a quick setup process (just be sure to choose the Custom Installation option to avoid installing a browser toolbar), PDFMate PDF Converter opens with a clean and simple interface. An “Add PDF” button enables you to add your source documents, and you can choose your output format from a toolbar. Specify the output folder, click the Convert button and simply wait for your first conversion to finish.

One irritation you’ll spot immediately is a nag screen which pops up during every batch of conversions, unfortunately, as the authors invite you to upgrade to the Pro version (which adds export to DOC format, and the ability to specify the page range of PDFs to convert). You can dismiss this with a click, but it still becomes quickly annoying.

The interface is clean and intuitive - you'll immediately feel at home

And, a little oddly, there’s no option to immediately view an exported file when the conversion is complete. Instead you must click a button which opens the output folder, then double-click one of the files to see how it looks.

Once you’ve figured this out, though, the results often work well. HTML output looks particularly good, with the program generating a page which looks much like a regular PDF viewer (you get Next and Back buttons, direct links to each page, page zoom options and more). And the SWF export option also delivered generally reliable conversions in our tests, although the core document viewer was a little simpler.

And there was a nice bonus feature in the program’s ability to shrink bulky PDFs, where it would take each consecutive set of two (or four) pages in the source document, and reduce them to a single page in the destination.

Not everything works so smoothly, unfortunately. Plain text export seemed extremely unreliable; it might work for very simple documents, but in our experience seemed to be rubbish for files of any complexity. And EPUB export was even worse, with various viewers complaining of problems with our finished documents (and that’s if they could display them at all).

And we did have occasional issues even with the more successful formats, as for instance text or image from our source PDF would appear in the wrong place on an HTML page.

Is PDFMate PDF Converter worth your time, then? If you’re using it a lot then the nag screen may become a major irritation. And its EPUB and TXT conversions aren’t something we’d recommend.

If you’ll use the HTML or SWF exports then it’s a different story, though, as they mostly worked well. While the ability to shrink PDF pages is also useful. And that’s probably enough to justify taking the program for a spin on your own PC, just to see how it works with your own source documents.

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