The Portable Document Format is a wonderful thing. We all use it – university papers, applications, work documents. It is the industry standard for fixed-format document viewing with cross-platform possibilities. I have found 7 killer PDF add-ons you wish you had, and also 13 add-ons not worth wasting your time with.

There are many ways in which to manipulate a PDF that perhaps you didn’t know before. Here are ways that PDF formatting can be done using the tools listed below:

  • Merging PDFs
  • Converting webpages to PDFs
  • Converting webpages to images
  • Replacing the need for PDF readers
  • Converting PDFs to word
  • Viewing PDFs online
  • Print webpages as PDFs
  • Bookmark a page in a PDF being read online
  • Editing and manipulating PDFs online

PDF tools 1: extensions

a) Docs PDF/Powerpoint Viewer (by Google) (4/5 – 2082) 833,833 users (0.25%)

Docs PDF/PowerPoint Viewer

This extension is extremely popular but has not attracted a huge amount of supportive votes. This is a simple tool allowing only viewing, not manipulation. A drawback is that it cannot open files that require a login. Also, when I tried to view an academic article, it simply showed a HTML version. Bad luck?

Description:

“Automatically previews pdfs, powerpoint presentations, and other documents in Google Docs Viewer. By clicking on a link for a supported document format you’ll be taken to the Google Docs Viewer.  No more downloading large files and launching another application just to view it. The Google Docs Viewer does not work on files that require a log-in to view, but you can make it ignore specific domains in the options so you will still download the file. On the options page you can also disable any file formats you don’t want to use the Viewer for. Please note that Chrome now has a PDF viewer which is separate from this plugin.  If you prefer to use Google Docs to view PDFs then you can enable that in the options.”

b) Print Friendly and PDF (4/5 – 248) 130, 736 users (0.19%)

Print Friendly & PDF

With a moderately high level of users, PrintFriendly and PDF is hard to judge as only 0.19% of users accredited it. It is a really nice tool for quickly and tidily printing web pages without the mess of tabs and sidebars. Tidier PDFs of webpages can also be saved with this. I found this really great for saving newspaper articles I wanted to reference as PDFs. It works best on individual articles or posts, not homepages where there is a lot of imagery and mixed information.

Description:

“Save paper and ink when you print. Print Friendly removes ads, navigation and junk before your print. Pages are optimized for the ultimate print reading experience. You can click-to-delete any content before printing. It remove images or individual images. Change the text size from larger to smaller. Generate PDFs for archiving, sharing, or saving. PDFs include clickable links, and source URL so you can continue to interact.

Features

* Print Preview

* Save as PDF

* Email Page

* Remove Images and text you don’t want

* Change font size”

c) PDF viewer (4/5 – 33) 246, 206 users (0.01%)

Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 5.21.04 PM

As the official description notes, it is an “experiment” trying to overcome the problem of native code assistance. It has a 4/5 rating, but only from 0.01% of the almost quarter of a million users. The commentary is very positive, and I had no problem with it.

Description:

“PDF.js is an HTML5 technology experiment that explores building a faithful and efficient Portable Document Format (PDF) renderer without native code assistance. This extension provides PDF.js as the default PDF viewer in Chrome.”

d) Save as PDF (3.5/5 – 537) 150, 631 users (0.36%)

Save as PDF

This extension gives the user limited features to manipulate and save webpages on the free version. More features are available if you login and pay. It beats “Print Friendly and PDF” by being able to generate PDFs from complicated webpages.

Description:

“Lets you download web pages as PDF in one click. This extension lets you easily save web pages to pdf. It uses https://pdfcrowd.com html to pdf online service. The extension works right out of the box using the default settings. If you want to customize the pdf you can sign up for a paid account at Pdfcrowd. The available options include page size, page orientation, margins, password protection, initial view, etc. You can learn more about the extension at https://pdfcrowd.com/save-as-pdf-explained/

e) PDFescape Free PDF Editor (3.5/5 – 157) 72, 898 users (0.22%)

PDFescape Free PDF Editor

If you don’t want the bother of having a PDF reader to open and edit PDFs, this replaces readers by allowing you to do all that online. A drawback is if you want to do this offline – then a reader would be very useful! My experience with this was very positive – like being able to add links, white-outs, freehand or text notes to all kinds of reports and files. It is a little slow to load long documents, but that’s my only criticism.

Description:

“This Google Chrome extension allows you to automatically open PDF files you discover online in PDFescape. Using this extension allows you to quickly open PDF files online inside of PDFescape (instead of your default PDF reader). No additional software or registration is required! PDFescape’s Chrome Extension is completely free (as is PDFescape). By opening PDF files online in PDFescape, Google Chrome users no longer need Adobe Reader or any other PDF reader. PDFescape is able to edit PDF files, fill out PDF forms, add form fields and hyperlinks to files, print & view PDF files, rearrange pages, completely remove pages from files, and much more.”

f) Convert PDF to Word (3.5/5 – 238) 98,550 users (0.24%)

Convert PDF to Word

There are many websites that perform this service for free, so it is not very revolutionary. I tried it and it crashed – twice. The PDF to Word app listed below gave a much better service.

Description:

“Convert PDF to Word without installing any app on your computer. The Pdf to Word convert is an easy tool for converting your pdf files to word format. In this new version of our extension, we want to bring the user all the knowledge gained from our web app PDF to Word Converter App for Chrome and freely available. We hope you enjoy the changes.”

g) PDF Bookmarker for Google Docs (4/5 – 12) 2207 users (0.54%)

PDF Bookmarker for Google Docs

For someone who reads a lot of long PDF reports or articles (like me) this is a very useful way for not losing track of what I am reading online. Pick up at the last page you bookmarked, with no scrolling to find where you left off. Or so it says. Maybe I got it wrong, but I opened a small PDF in Google Drive Viewer as instructed, but I could not find the “bookmarker” anywhere.

Description:

“Click the bookmark button on the thumbnail icon in the left column, and the extension will remember the bookmarked page. When you open the pdf again it will open to the page you last bookmarked, and you can continue reading. NOTE: The bookmarks are synced to the cloud, so your bookmarks will transfer between all computers using the extension.”

h) iWeb2x – URL to PDF and image (4/5 – 78) 11238 users (0.69%)

iWeb2x - URL to PDF & Image

The PDF function is really nice – I tested it on a newspaper landing page, and it produced a good PDF (you can choose greyscale as well if you like). The image option was less satisfactory, allowing no cropping options or downloading options – you have to right-click to save. “Webpage Screenshot” is a way better extension for this.

Description:

“Convert web page to printer friendly PDF, image snapshot, or high resolution wallpaper.

1. Web Page to PDF

- Convert web page to an elegant printer friendly PDF to print or read offline

- Control page size (Letter, Legal, A0-A9, B0-B10, +more)

- Control page orientation (Landscape, Portrait)

- Control PDF render mode (Color, Gray)

- Exclude web page images or background color to optimize printing

- The service uses the following online service iWeb2Print

2. Web Page to Image

- Convert web page to an image snapshot or high resolution wallpaper

- Support several image formats (PNG, GIF, JPG, TIF, BMP, PPM, PGM)

- Support standard wallpaper sizes (1024×768, 1280×600, 1920×1200, +more)

- Set image size to “Screen” to save entire web page rather than its visible area

- Set image format to “PNG” to get high resolution image. Size may be huge!

- Set image format to “JPG” to get small size image

- The service uses the following online service iWeb2Shot”

i) Sign Now – Sign and Fill PDF and Word Documents (4.5/5 – 29) 2506 users (1.12%)

Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 5.26.54 PM

If you don’t mind the look of an electronic signature, then this is quite a time-saver. Sign online, and go. However, you do have to create an account to use it.

Description:

“Sign documents anywhere or get anyone’s signature for free. SignNow’s extension makes it easy to sign pdf’s from the web or your gmail.  Simply click “Open in SignNow” from any pdf in your browser, including in gmail, to easily sign a document. Need to sign a document? Need to get someone’s signature on a document? SignNow makes it easy to do both for free, and forget about printing, scanning, or faxing. Simply:

1) Upload any PDF, Word, or rich text document

2) Sign realistically by drawing with your mouse, by typing, or by uploading. People won’t even know your signature was electronic.

3) Email the signed document to anyone, or save the document to a free SignNow account.”

j) Send to Google Drive (4.5/5 – 94) 31270 users (0.3%)

Send to Google Drive

A pretty nice tool if you want to quickly save a webpage to the Drive as a PDF. This is an alternative to saving it to your computer and then having to upload it to Drive. It’s limitation is not being able to function on sites requiring a login or session. Some pixel distortion occurred in some of the images on the webpage I sent to Drive. The text worked out fine.

Description:

“Allows you to upload a pdf version of the current page to your Google Drive using the pdfcrowd service. This extension’s purpose is to make it easy to save a web page to your Google Drive. To use (see screenshots):

* Click the extension icon on the page you would like to upload

* Click the “Save in Google Drive” button at the top of the Google Docs Viewer that pops up in a new tab

* See options for more features

Limitations:

* Will not work on sites that require a login or session”

like searching in Chrome store

like searching in the Chrome store…

PDF tools 2: apps

a) PDF Mergy (4.5/5 – 638) 288990 users (0.22%)

PDF Mergy

Again, another tool that you can find as a web app within moments on a search engine, but if you are a frequent user then it could be a good app to have installed. I like the option of being able to merge PDFs from the computer and Drive, and have the option of saving to computer and Drive as well after. Sometimes you have to upload instead of doing drag ‘n drop.

Description:

“This WebApp provides a simple way to merge PDF files. You can either select the files you want to merge from you computer or drop them on the app using drag and drop. After that use drag and drop to bring the files in the desired order. The resulting merged PDF file will contain all Documents in the order as they appear on the screen.  When done, press merge to initiate merging. In order to process your files, they will be uploaded to a remote server. The files are uploaded and stored only for the purpose of being merged. Some minutes after processing them all files are deleted permanently from the remote system. Please note that this App currently does not feature any encryption. So you should not use it with confidential files especially if you are on a untrusted network.”

b) Free Online PDF Tools (3/5 – 285) 218390 users (0.13%)

Free Online PDF Tools

Despite the advertisement of multiple functionality, this does NOT work at all.

Description:

“Free Online PDF Tools: rotate PDF, merge any files to PDF,split PDF, PDF to JPEG,any file to PDF, Barcode2PDF . PDF Tools. Merge two or more files (Images, PSD, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML…) into a new PDF document. Convert any document to PDF: Images, PSD, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML To PDF Converter. Convert any file to JPG’s: upload any file and download zip file contain all pages as jpeg. Unlock PDF documents: get access to password-protected PDF files. Unlock restricted PDF documents by removing printing, editing and copying restrictions”

c) PDF to Word Converter App (3/5 – 472) 209062 users (0.23%)

PDF to Word Converter App

This takes you to an external website. The extension of the same function (listed above) did not score much better, at 0.24%. However, it worked perfectly for me (no crash like the extension) and successfully converted a 100-page PDF into a smooth Word version.

Description:

“PDF to Word Converter is a easy way to convert yours pdf files to word files. PDF to Word converter App gives you a tool that easily converts your PDF files to word and now the word to pdf. Soon we will have major improvements in the app to better use google chrome and its derivatives.”

d) Free PDF Maker (3/5 – 51) 38694 users (0.13%)

Free PDF Maker

This is apparently for making PDFs from HTML, images and text. After a lot of click-throughs, I tried to make a PDF from a few lines of HTML. Crash.

Description:

“Simple little free app to help you create and download PDF files from text, images or HTML

- Create and download PDF files

- Create PDF from text

- Create PDF from images

- Create PDF from from html”

e) Free Online PDF Unlocker (3/5 – 85) 54288 users (0.16%)

Free Online PDF Unlocker

this connects to an external web-app and requires click-throughs… not fun to use on the go.

Description:

“Free Online PDF Tools: Unlock PDF Files, and enable printing and editing.

1. Select PDF file to upload.

2. Click on the “UNLOCK NOW” Button.

3. Download Unlocked PDF File.”

f) PDFzen PDF Viewer and Editor (2/5 – 206) 20583 users (1%)

PDFzen PDF Viewer & Editor

The comments inform that overall there are still too many bugs and problems with PDFzen to recommend for use. The document I tried to load took so long that I gave up.

Description:

“The PDFzen Google Drive app lets you easily edit your PDFs in Google Drive. PDFzen is a free online PDF editor, and HTML5 means you can edit & share your PDFs without leaving your browser. Best of all, PDFzen is now available on the PDFs you already have stored in Google Drive. Fill out PDF forms, sign documents, highlight text, leave comments, and even draw on the PDF. You don’t need to create an account to use PDFzen. With the PDFzen Google Drive app you can open your PDFs in PDFzen and start editing immediately – right in your browser and on the docs you already have in Google Drive. When you are finished, you can save your edits back to Google drive, download the document as a PDF or get the link to share via email or social media. HTML5 PDF editing means PDFzen works right from the browser of your iPhone or iPad too. Have PDFs on your desktop that you want to upload to PDFzen? The free desk PDF Reader integrates directly with PDFzen, so its just 1 click to immediately open your PDFs in PDFzen for quick editing & sharing. This is great for quickly publishing to the web, and collaborating with others. (desk PDF Reader is available for Windows & Mac, with Linux coming soon.)”

g) PDF Cloud Tools (3/5 – 81) 56501 users (0.14%)

PDF Cloud Tools

This did NOT work at all. The website landing page is there but any choice of services leads to nothing. Very annoying.

Description:

“PDF Cloud Tools: With this web application you can easily work with PDF documents. Rotate, merge, convert, unlock, and more. We Edged software have introduced a cloud based free online PDF app to make your work easy and comfortable. As a user friendly APP you can use it anywhere any time without installing a single line of code into your computer. With our PDF APP you can:

Convert a word document into a PDF document

Convert a excel sheet into a secured PDF document

Convert a PDF document into a image

Convert a PSD file into a PDF Document

Convert a HTML file into a PDF Document

Convert a Beautiful PowerPoint presentation into a PDF Document

Merge any word, image, html, PSD, PowerPoint and excel sheet into a PDF document

Unlock your PDF Documents

Facebook Photos to PDF Documents

Convert your Instagram into a PDF Documents

PDF Document to online flip book”

h) PDF Documents Merger (2.5/5 – 27) 9152 users (0.3%)

PDF Documents Merger

The drag and drop feature didn’t work for me, nor did I wait around for the merging. This is too slow, even if it is functional.

Description:

“Drag and drop to merge any files (PDF, image, docs, html…) into a single PDF file. Supporst: PDF, images, PSD, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML … You can drag & drop files from your desktop on this webpage with Google™ Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. drag and drop any document (Images,Office,Html,Txt…).”

i) ILOVEPDF Merge and Split PDF (4/5 – 19) 6775 users (0.28%)

ILOVEPDF Merge & Split PDF

This links to a website – not an app, but works fine and fast.

Description:

“Merge PDF files or split PDF files online for free! Quick and easy service to merge PDF or split PDF files.”

j) Sejda PDF (4/5 – 12) 1760 users (0.68%)

Sejda PDF

It worked, but it is actually just a link to a web app, not an integrated Chrome app.

Description:

“Split and Merge PDF Files. Advanced PDF manipulation. Sejda is a quick, friendly and hassle-free online tool for manipulating pdf documents. Doesn’t require registration and is free to use. Split and merge PDF Files. Mix and alternate pdf files. Apply page headers and footers with page numbering to pdf files. Encrypt (protect) and decrypt (unprotect) pdf files. Rotate PDF pages. Extract text from PDF files. You’re limited to 50Mb. The process is as fast as processing on a local computer, runs in the cloud, without the hassle of installing extra software. Works on all desktop platforms, Mac, Linux and Windows.”

Keeping your computer long-lasting is also important besides using the right tools: Eight Ways to Make Your Computer Last Longer

Featured photo credit: Uncalno via Flickr,David Boyle via Flickr,

Love this article? Share it with your friends on Facebook