PDF documents are great in many ways, but how do you edit or change them? Easy! Convert them to Word documents, edit them, then save them as PDFs again. It can all be done on your phone.
You could use a computer to convert PDFs to Word documents of course, but I chose to use a phone partly because it is a challenge, partly because it is interesting to see just how much you can do on a phone these days, and partly because sometimes all you have with you is a phone, such as when you are out of the office, sitting on the sofa at home and can’t be bothered to get up, and you need to change a PDF file.
In this article I use a budget Android phone for the task, but the procedure works exactly the same on an iPhone. It does not matter what type of phone you have because the app you need is on iOS and Android.
There are many ways to convert PDF documents to Word and Word to PDF and I will be using the Microsoft Office mobile app. This is free for phones and I also use a free Microsoft account and a free OneDrive account to store the files. You do not need an Office 365 subscription, this is all free.
Get your phone out and let’s get started…
1 Open Office
If you do not already have the Microsoft Office on your phone, install it from the app store. It is free. Sign in with your Microsoft account, also free. Opening the app may show the PDF document you want to convert to Word on the home screen, but if you do not immediately see it, click the folder icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
2 Browse for the PDF
The PDF file to convert needs to be somewhere the app can access, such as OneDrive, Box, the phone itself and so on. My PDF is on OneDrive, but yours may be elsewhere. Tap the storage, like OneDrive, to open for browsing.
3 Browse OneDrive files
Browse the folders and look through the files and find the PDF document you want to convert. When you find it, just tap it to open it in the Office mobile app.
4 View the PDF in the Office app
The selected PDF document opens in the Microsoft Office app and you can read it if you want. We need to perform actions on it, so tap the three dots in the top right corner to show a menu.
5 PDF options in Office
A menu slides up from the bottom of the screen that contains actions you can perform with the PDF document. Right at the top is Convert to Word. Press it, wait a second or two and the job is done.
6 PDF in Word
The PDF document opens in the Word editor. That’s a powerful app with a ton of features I won’t get into here, but to get you started, tap in the document to bring up the keyboard and tap the up arrow in the bottom right corner to show formatting features. Tap the fourth button in the toolbar at the top to change the view.
7 Edit the PDF in Word
You can now edit the Word document and make any changes you need to it. You don’t get all the features of the Word desktop app, but it is surprising what you can do on a phone and the mobile app is very useful for quickly editing documents on the go.
8 Save the edited document
Changes are saved on the fly as you type in the editor, but you will probably find that the file is called Document1 or something similar. Tap the three dots in the top right corner to access the menu and use Save As. Alternatively, you could press the tick icon and then rename Document1 afterwards. You can give it the same name as the original PDF, there’s no clash because it is a .docx file now and not a .pdf.
9 Convert Word to PDF
Back at the Microsoft Office home screen, you can see the Word document that came from the PDF file. The icons show which one is a .pdf and which is the .docx. This may be as far as you want to go, but it is possible to go further if you want. Press the thee dots on the right of the Word document and a menu slides up from the bottom. On it is a Convert to PDF option. You can create a new PDF from the edited original document.
We are done! Here you can see the original PDF document, the Word file it was converted to, and a new edited version of the PDF. We have successfully edited the original PDF and created an updated version of it, all on a phone with a free app – Microsoft Office.
Bear in mind that it is possible to add security features to protect PDF files to prevent them from being opened by unauthorized people, edited, modified and so on. The method to convert a PDF to Word and back again show here will not work on protected PDFs.
It is possible to create very complex PDF documents and this may cause some issues in the PDF to Word conversion process. Simple documents are near perfect, but some work may be needed to tidy up complex ones that don’t convert perfectly.