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With PDFpenPro 6, Smile makes a great PDF utility even better

Jeffery Battersby | April 12, 2013
PDFpenPro just might be the best PDF editing and annotation tool available for the Mac.

PDFpenPro has long been my favorite application for managing, editing, updating, and signing PDF files on my Mac and iOS devices. PDFpenPro 6 is a significant upgrade to what was already an outstanding app, adding features such as automatic form recognition, export of PDF files to Word documents, and an updated interface that puts oft-used tools just a short click away.

If you've used PDFpenPro before, one of the first things you'll notice is some changes to the program's interface. A new toolbar appears above the top of your document, giving you access to all of PDFpenPro's most commonly used tools. What this means, speaking practically, is that you no longer need to navigate a string of menus to reach editing and annotation tools, add form fields, or draw on your document.

You Convert Me: PDFpen Pro offers a useful and powerful online tool that takes complicated PDFs and turns them into fully editable Word documents. (Editor's note: We blurred sections of the pictured document for privacy reasons.)

One new feature that I've already found to be especially helpful scans your document for possible data-entry locations and then automatically adds form fields to those locations in the document. Although it wasn't always 100 percent accurate in recognizing possible data-entry points, it was able to find field locations easily, whether they were checkboxes or text fields. Once the recognition process is done, you can quickly adjust the size and location of the fields and add new fields if PDFpenPro fails to recognize one properly.

My only gripe about the automatic field-recognition tool is that it recognizes fields on only a single PDF page at a time. This issue isn't terrible with a one- or two-page document, of course, but longer forms led to more repetition, which I found annoying.

Another feature added to PDFpenPro allows you to convert any PDF document into a Microsoft Word document. This feature requires Internet access since it involves uploading the PDF document to a server, converting the file, and then downloading it as a Word document, all with your permission. This conversion process is fraught with some of the same PDF-to-text conversion wonkiness you'll find in any application of this sort--you'll end up with some odd font choices, strange page and section breaks, and headers and footers that appear as a part of your body text. On the whole, however, I found PDFpenPro's Word-conversion capabilities to be excellent. Tables rendered properly, and all the text within the tables was editable. Graphics appeared as individual, selectable entities and not as part of the paragraph text. Best of all, editing the converted Word document was as easy as editing a document created from the ground up in Word.


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