Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How to Convert a PDF File to JPG Image

The solution begs the question – why convert a PDF document to a JPG image? The answer lies in the way we view PDF documents.

PDF requires an external application like Adobe Acrobat Reader (or any other free variants) while JPG does not.

Browsers have the built-in capability to display images while handling PDF documents requires an external application or plug-in which may or may not be present.

An external application comes with the handicap of loading times. Plus the rendering of a PDF document happens only after the complete document is downloaded while images can be streamed in.

Office applications also do a better job of handling images in comparison to PDF. To cite an example, a PowerPoint presentation with an embedded image goes faster than with a PDF document.

So, in some specific cases converting your PDF documents to an image format like JPG or JPEG could be the solution we are looking for.

1. Convert PDF to JPG (The Web Way)
No installations – just browse to these websites, upload your files and it’s done.

Perhaps, the most well known of the file conversion sites. The process is simplicity personified: Choose the file to convert then choose the format to convert to (e.g. JPG) then enter your email address to receive the converted file then convert.

The minuses with the free service are that the file size is limited to 100MB with just 5 simultaneous conversions. Also, you might feel a wee bit uneasy uploading sensitive data without encryption support.

YouConvertIt (Beta)
You can upload 5 files at the same time.As YouConvertIt is still in beta, expect some conversion attempt failures.

Neevia Document Converter
Neevia Technology has a web interface which facilitates the conversion of PDF documents to image files. Select the conversion settings and upload your file. The converted file can be rendered in the browser or can be downloaded via an email link. Two dropdowns further give you control over image quality and resolution. The only visible restriction is the 1MB file upload size limit.

If you are wary of uploading sensitive files over the net, you need to look beyond the online solutions to something much more local. Thankfully these three pieces of free software take up the task.

2. PDF to JPG Converters for The Desktop

PDF-Xchange Viewer (Windows)
PDF-Xchange Viewer is a light feature-rich PDF document reader. The free version of the software is a capable document handler with most of the standard features expected. Add comments and annotations, mark-up pages with texts and objects, type within the PDF document along with plug-ins for both IE and Firefox are also included.

But the feature which interests us is the ability of the software to export a file or a page to the supported image formats like JPEG, BMP, TIFF, PNG and more.

Open the PDF file in the viewer, click on File – Export to Image and the dialog opens up where you can set the pages to convert, the image type to convert to and the destination folder. More importantly, the ‘Export Mode’ setting allows you to designate the number of image files for the subject PDF file. The ‘Page Zoom’, ‘Resolution’ and ‘Page Background’ also allow added finishing touches.

OmniFormat (Windows)
‘Omni’ means all and the OmniFormat document conversion utility lives up to the name. The free version permits active conversion and image handling of over 75 file formats including HTML, DOC, XLS, WPD, PDF, XML, JPG, GIF, TIF, PNG, PCX, PPT, PS, TXT, Photo CD, FAX and MPEG.

Using OmniFormat requires the installation of Pdf995 (it’s free too). Pdf995 is a fast and flexible PDF printer driver which makes it easy to publish PDF documents from any program. Pdf995 needs to be installed prior to the installation of OmniFormat. The free version of the software opens with a timed ad display.

This annoying part done with, the software itself is uncomplicated. It sets up a ‘Watch’ folder (or lets you set it up yourself). Any PDF file that has to be converted to JPG is copied into this folder. With the press of the ‘Single Pass’ button each single page of the PDF gets converted into the JPG format. With the ‘Start Monitoring’ button, PDF files can be repeatedly dropped into the watch folder for conversion.

Note of Caution: OmniFormat deletes the original PDF file in the watch folder after conversion…so be sure to copy the file you want to convert.

Virtual Image Printer Driver (Windows)
This open source application installs as an additional printer on the Printer’s applet and can convert any printable document to a BMP, PNG, JPG, TIFF or a PDF file. The Virtual Image Printer driver is based on the Microsoft universal printer driver core.

Simply, open the PDF file and print it by selecting the Image Printer Driver in the ‘Print’ dialog. The image file format and the compression range can be set in the Image Printer options box.

And When Everything Fails…
If you are away from a net connection and in want of the software’, the trusty ‘Print Screen’ button aided with any image handling application like MS Paint or IrfanView can do a stand-in job. I should know – I went this way before I came across the other six ways.

Do you know of any other methods?

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