Review: deskUNPDF Professional for Mac

Access and edit contents of PDF files easily. (February 16th, 2010)

The useful deskUNPDF converts PDF files into a variety of document types, including HTML and Word. New graphic format support and faster text rendering engine grace this upgrade.

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Docudesk

Price: $59.95 and up

The Good

  • Converts PDF files to multiple formats. Works quickly. Conversion handles complex documents well. Can convert multiple documents at a time.

The Bad

  • Cannot zoom in to see thumbnail pages. Preferences dialog didnít draw correctly in Leopard. Cannot drop PDFs onto Dock icon. Must use Preferences to change save-to folder or use Save As instead of Convert. Non-standard open dialog.

deskUNPDF for the Mac allows you to convert PDF files so that you can modify them in a variety of ways. This robust utility lets you transform PDF files created by any application, so that you can edit the text, extract, and export spreadsheet or database data to use in other applications, and even grab graphics.

deskunpdf3-open.jpg
Opening Screen

Notable Features

deskUNPDF opens and converts a single file or folder of PDF documents to DOC, XLS, RTF, HTML, XHTML, data, TXT, and OASIS Open Document formats (.odt). OpenOffice, Star Office, Lotus Symphony, and Google Docs use the .odt format. It also converts imbedded graphics to bmp, jpg, and TIFF.

You can convert a range of pages from the middle of the PDF, a single page, or an entire document from the Page Selection. You can also drag and drop or control click on pages from the PDF thumbnail window. This is helpful if you need to pick specific pages to convert. If you need to create a presentation, you can create a Scalable Vector Graphic from text or graphics within a PDF. This yields a clear sharp image when projected onto a screen.

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Main Window with Graphic Settings Pane

The best part is that you can keep any hyperlinks and formatting intact when you convert your PDF. DeskUNPDF does its best to match the original font in the PDF, but allows you to choose a font if the original one is not available.

New in Version 3

Docudesk recently released deskUNPDF 3, which adds a number of improvements. They've added support for CMYK, JPEG 200, and JBIG graphic formats. An improved text rendering engine (Accu-Text 3.0) converts your PDFs faster at a higher quality, plus the table conversion feature more accurately extracts numeric data. A new crop tool allows for extraction of pieces of a PDF, so you aren't limited to converting a whole document, as shown in the screen shot above.

Cautions

When you install deskUNPDF 3, the Microsoft Office 2004 Integration checkbox is off by default. If you need that compatibility, make sure to click the Customize button, and check to install the piece that creates a .dot file with a macro for choosing a PDF file in Word 2004.

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Custom Install Window

Unfortunately, you have to restart your machine after the software installs. Both these tidbits of information should be included in the Read Me file, but they are not. I had a number of Safari windows open, so the restart requirement was quite frustrating, not to mention that after you type in your Activation code you have to restart the application. The numerous restarts are annoying at best.

Just because you can convert most PDF files into graphics or text documents doesn't mean you can rip secure documents. You must have the correct password to convert a password protected PDF. In addition, while you can convert graphics and add them to a Word document, I wasn't able to create a JPG only document.

You can drop a PDF to convert into the main window, but not onto the Dock icon.

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Main Window with Document Settings Pane

Useful Bits

Many of us use MS Word to create our important documents, but natively Word does not open PDF files. I recently found a book chapter about my great grandmother in the Internet archive, which I saved as a PDF, but the scanned text included numerous optical character recognition errors. A quick deskUNPDF conversion into Word let me to edit and correct the mistakes. You can see in the screen shot below the text in the Preview Window and the PDF pages in the Thumbnail Pane on the right. When you want to convert a piece of a long document, you do not have the option to zoom in to see the desired text. I hope Docudesk adds this to the feature set in the next revision.

deskunpdf3-choosetext.jpg

Page to Convert

In one test, I used a heavily formatted PDF resume and converted it into a Word.doc.

deskunpdf3-zoneselection.jpg

Resume Selected with Conversion Manager Open

While deskUNPDF did a great job converting the format, some bullets, and text did not translate well and required correction.

deskunpdf3-wordconvert.jpg

The Only Minor Problem Encountered

Odd Bugs

An oddity shows up in the Preferences in which I could not see all of the options. As seen below, the Overwrite Existing Output Document pop-up menu only shows if you click the piece of the arrow you can see.

deskunpdf3-wordconvert.jpg

Preferences

After I opened the Preferences, the File menu options were all grayed out. That problem went away after I switched into the Finder and back into the application. At one point, the Text Options disappeared, but when I quit the program and reopened it, all was fine.

When you press Open, your main Home folder appears, which isn't quite an effective use of the interface design. It should open your Documents folder by default, which might be more useful. The same folder you choose to locate your document opens the next time you use the Open command. While most open dialogs include a sidebar, and include other easy selection features, deskUNPDF doesn't take advantage of these interface features.

deskunpdf3-wordconvert.jpg

Open Dialog

Your converted file goes into the same folder as the original PDF by default, but you can change that in the Preferences. Another way to change the folder is to use the Save As command. I think it is confusing to use two different commands, Convert or Save As, to perform the same function, but change the folder in which the document appears. I think the program still needs some minor tweaking.

Bottom Line

deskUNPDF is a very useful utility at home or work. It works well, except for a few oddities that do not affect the output. In converting PDFs to HTML documents, the impressive results were a bit code-heavy, but showed well in any browser.

If you need proof of the usefulness of deskUNPDF, download the trial version that only converts one page at a time, to test out the application. Your purchase price includes a year of free updates.

by ilene hoffman, reviews editor


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