Unlocking Your Data - Page 2

By Helen Bradley
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Visit Zamzar and click the Conversion Types link to see if your format is listed and, if so, what you can convert it to. If it can be converted return to the main page, click Browse and upload a file of up to 100 MB in size. Select the format to convert the file to, type your email address and click Convert. The converted file will be sent automatically to you.

If it is PowerPoint, Excel or Word files you need to get access to you will find that the office online apps can help a lot. For example, Google Docs can convert any of the Office formats to worksheets, presentations and documents that you can work with in Google Docs. The free Microsoft Office Web apps - which include pared down versions of Excel, Word and PowerPoint - can be found at Office.live.com. These can display and allow you to edit any of the current Microsoft Office file formats.

Microsoft Office

Google Docs can read the new Microsoft Office formats and can extract data from pdf files.

Get data from a PDF

While PDF is a great format for sharing files with others, it's also a format that tends to lock in your data, making it difficult to get it back out again. Whenever you save a file as a PDF, make sure to also save a copy in your program's own native format so that you always have that file available.

If you need to extract data from a PDF file to another application, you can try one of the online services. These include PDF to Word services available from www.pdftoword.com and www.pdftoword.net. These PDF to Word converters let you upload the file and convert online and they also have a tool you can download to your desktop to do the conversion locally.

It's not reasonable to assume that any of these tools will do a perfect job of the conversion for you. Detailed formatting is likely to be lost or compromised in the conversion process.

The problems will be even more apparent when you try to convert a pdf to an Excel or spreadsheet file. At best, you can expect to extract a table of data from the PDF file but you are unlikely ever to get the underlying formulas out of the pdf. This is because they were probably never saved inside the pdf format in the first place.

For this reason, if you really need the formulas go back to the original file creator and see if they can get you the spreadsheet version.

Microsoft Office

The free online Microsoft Web Apps give you a way to view and edit Microsoft Office documents even if you don't own Office.

Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site, HelenBradley.com.

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This article was originally published on August 17, 2011
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