Convert PDF to Excel and Calc on Fedora, Ubuntu using ‘Able2Extract’ (commercial software, trail version available)

Since approximately 90% of computer users work on Microsoft Windows, many companies invest their time in developing software that is only compatible with this operating system. was among them until two years ago, when the company recognized the fact that open-source enthusiasts also deserve to be able to convert PDF files in a simple, straightforward and time-saving process, and decided not to limit their users only to one computing platform.

That is how Investintech created Able2Extract PDF Converter 8, introducing the first cross-platform tool for converting PDFs into files that are native to all three major platforms: Windows, Mac and Linux.

The beauty of the tool is in its cross-compatibility. It can convert files on Linux that are native to Windows (such as MS Office suite file formats), and make them viewable and usable in the appropriate format for that operating system. For example, if a user wants to convert a PDF file into MS Excel table on their Ubuntu machine, they’ll perform the conversion with a few simple clicks, as we’ll now demonstrate, and their file will be available for further use in Calc format. However, if they want to send it to someone who uses MS Windows, their targeted recipient will receive the file in the originally converted Excel format.

'Able2Extract' running on Ubuntu 13.10

Able2Extract is useful to Linux users not only for its quick and quality PDF conversion. It provides its users the opportunity to use the software’s sleek and intuitive graphical userinterface, eliminating the need for complicated command line tools. As PDF to Excel function proved to be the most widely used among Able2Extract users, we’ll go over the few clicks one needs to perform in order to turn a PDF table into highly editable spreadsheet:

1) To open a PDF file in Able2Extract, simply click the command Open in the File menu or its toolbar icon.

Opening PDF file in 'Able2Extract'
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This will open the document in the central part of the screen, while the Preview Pane on the left side helps you control the navigation, especially if working with multiple-page PDFs.

2) The following is the Select option, where you decide whether you want to convert the whole PDF table, or only parts of it. To extract only a column or selected parts, click on Area. Now use your mouse to select the part you wish to convert.

Selecting an area of a PDF in Able2Extract
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3) Click on Excel. A dialogue box will appear with an option to immediately Convert your document as is. Click on Define to further customize your document.

Converting a PDF into an Excel format using 'Able2Extract'
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4) The customization options on the right allow users to make further adjustments to their row and column structure of the spreadsheet prior to conversion.

Setting up the characteristics of the output file - Able2Extract
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5) When done editing, users can click on the Show Preview option and see what their converted file will look like.

Previewing the output file - Able2Extract
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6) Finally, click on the green Convert button and save your file in your desired location on your computer.

Linux and open-source software users can also convert PDFs directly into Calc format following four easy steps:

1. Open the PDF document as shown in the above tutorial
2. Click on All or Area to extract parts for conversion
3. Click on OpenOffice, instead of Excel
4. Choose Calc, and click Convert

Convert a PDF file into 'OpenOffice' format - Able2Extract

PDF to OpenOffice does not provide a customization option, as does PDF to Excel, so users who want to manipulate their spreadsheet structure prior to conversion should use the PDF to Excel conversion option and simply open the resulting Excel file in an OpenOffice spreadsheet application -- Calc.

In short, you can convert PDF on Linux to either Excel or Calc and use the conversion output in an open source office suite like OpenOffice or LibreOffice. The choice whether to convert the PDF to Excel depends on whether you want to customize the output prior to conversion or simply extract selected content as is.

Another advantage of choosing Able2Extract for PDF conversion on Linux is that it is developed with two main Linux distribution users in mind, Fedora and Ubuntu, but it’s also tested very well with Debian Linux. So, if the tool’s features sound exciting, there’s much more to explore in the free trial version of the tool that can be downloaded here.

About: is a Canadian software provider of premium PDF conversion products and services. Their flagship product, Able2Extract PDF Converter, is the first cross-platform tool on the market. The Professional version of the software also includes OCR technology that provides high-quality scanned PDF conversion.

Editor’s Note:

I usually do not publish articles (guest posts included) about commercial software, but after seeing some of the features of ‘Able2Extract’, I thought some would find it to be a useful tool (specially those that run a business where converting large amount of PDF files into some other formats in a daily basis).

I too personally tested it in Ubuntu 13.10 (despite my very limited knowledge about Office applications and all that 🙂 ), and noticed the following.

After opening a reasonably large PDF file (100 + pages, with lots of images) into ‘Able2Extract’, & when you try to select an area for the first time, the application stops responding. I am not sure what the exact issue is (perhaps ‘Able2Extract’ still scans PDF in the background?), but if you wait for like 30-60 seconds, then it comes back, and after that, you can select content freely & smoothly. This is present in the Windows version as well.

Ubuntu 13.10 representing 'Able2Extract' as stuck (but it isn't)

That is pretty much it.

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