Installation in Windows 7 is standard. After launching the setup file, agreeing to letting it make changes to your computer, and accepting the actual EULA of the program, you are left with either accepting the default values for the installation (in this case, a full install with no customization), or you can customize your pathway, etc.
Initial Program Launch:
When you open the program by clicking it’s icon either on the desktop or through the Start Menu, you are greeted by this screen:
This has become the current style interface for most Windows based programs these days. However, there are a few things that are non-standard, and need to be pointed out.
1. The Command Menu:
a. File, as you may have guessed contains your Open and Close file commands, but also contains the Convert commands for single files, as well as a Batch Convert Menu Item to do multiple files at once. Print, Exit and a list of recently accessed PDFs are also at this location.
b. Edit, doesn’t actually contain a single edit command in it. You will the Copy, Copy as Image, and the Select Page Range, Select All Pages, and Select All On Page, Deselect All, and Deselect Last. The last menu option is OCR options. This is a bit redundant as this option is available on the View Menu.
c. Document, doesn’t actually do much. To be honest, I wish they had left it out. Movement through the document can be done through the standardized movement controls at the bottom of the work window, which is much easier than going to this menu. They could have left this one out, and but a Tools Menu in for things like Options and Preferences.
d. View, has your view options, These are standard. Zoom in, Zoom out, Fit to Page, Page Width. Because this program lacks a Tools Menu, you will also find Options under this menu.
e. Window menu, is useful if you have more than one PDF open and wish to view them all. Cascade, Tile, and Arrange Icons are your choices, as well as the ability to pick your individual file to work with.
f. Help, is standard. Your access to the help and program information.
2. The Command Bar gives you access to Open, Select All, or Select Area, the conversion options, and the batch conversion menu, and Find.
When you start it up, unless you choose to get rid of balloon tips, you will be greeted with the screen above telling you to open a file for conversion. Once you open a file, you are greeted with:
Yep, this program makes it very hard to mess the conversion process up. It gives you step-by-step instructions by default. A word here about selection. In the selection process you will at some point, have to use the Edit Menu for selection, unless you always want to Select All. Why? The Command Bar options are good for only two things, the Select All, or Select Area, and select Area doesn’t mean a page. I tried to select only the cover as you see it in the screen shot with Select Area, and it kept skipping ahead to the next page. However, going to the Edit menu, and selecting Select All on Page worked just fine. If you are selecting multiple areas throughout the document, use that CONTROL key, to keep your previous selections as well as the one you are making.
Once you select an area, page, range of pages, or the whole document, if you click outside of the highlighted area, in the work area, you deselect anything you selected, no confirmation no nothing. This isn’t terribly inconvenient, if you select the whole document, but if you have a document where you selected 10 areas by hand, it quickly gets on the nerves. I’d recommend a confirmation for de-selection for this very reason.
Now that your selection is made, your conversion buttons become active, your document is highlighted, and the ever helpful balloon tip appears :
Click the conversion you want, and the program will either convert immediately, ask you where you wish to save the converted file, or if there are options a pop-up menu will appear with the ability to choose the default, or to set a custom conversion options. These options depend on what conversion you are doing, but usually as far as I have been able to deduce (as far as MS Office products go), have to do with how the program should handle graphics and grouping of texts.
Once the conversion is done, the target program will open with the file produced.
Conclusion and Thoughts
This program is very simple to use. Investintech has gone out of their way to make your document conversions a success. That being said, document conversion, even with this program isn’t foolproof. The simpler your PDF the better. What do I mean by simpler you may ask? Non-standard fonts, large sized text (even with standard fonts), throws it for a loop. The document that is in the screenshots above was a freebie ebook. The normal sized text turned out fine. But for formatted text like TOCs, captions, some titles (non-standard fonts in this case), turned out to complete gibberish. If you use a PDF printer to save stuff off the web, this program is excellent if you want to manipulate the text. Send it to Word or Open Office, and edit away. Conversions of PDF tables to Excel were near flawless. The layout was identical. Tried this five times on different tables, and the only problem was if the PDF table margins were too close to the text (like a visible cell wall), the layout was good, but the text mixed up a bit. My conversions with PDFs to PPTs were excellent. I had one teacher (just graduated from nursing) who would convert all her PPTs to PDFs so they couldn’t be edited by the students. This program accurately converted them back to PPTs. The PPT theme was treated as a background graphic for the conversion, but at least you could hide it to save ink in the printing, which you couldn’t do before. This also allowed me to add notes to the PPTs for studying purposes.
Overall, it’s a great tool to have if you can afford it, or win a license. I’d give it a solid 8 of 10. Try it out, I think you’ll be happy you did.
Able2Extract Professional is available as a 7 day Free Trial (No registration required) http://www.investintech.com/prod_downloadsa2e_pro.htm