There are plenty of worthwhile reasons to convert a Portable Document Format (PDF) to a JPG image. Although PDF files are a fantastic way to package a slew of text and image documents together, they often require an external application or plug-in, and are unnecessary if you want just a single page or image. Plus, most office applications handle JPG images better, and JPG files generally have quicker load times than that of PDF files.
The tough part is switching from one to the other, especially if you have a PDF file that you need to extract some content from. We’ll show you how to convert PDFs to more manageable JPGs, no matter which platform you’re on!
If you’re on Windows 10
Windows 10 doesn’t have many innate tools to switch PDFs to JPGs, except for unsophisticated tools like screenshots. We don’t want you struggling with cropping tools and resolution problems, so we suggest going another route instead. Here are the most effective ways to convert that we’ve found when working on Windows 10.
- PDF to JPEG App: This is a free Windows app that, well, converts PDFs to JPGs, like the name indicates. It’s minimalist but allows for a welcome amount of control over converting specific pages, selecting where images will be saved, and more. If you only have access to Windows 10, this is probably your best solution for frequent conversions. However, make sure you know how to use it before starting! The commands have proven confusing for some users. Always select a folder for saving before trying to convert, and please remember that this converts PDFs to JPGs, and not the other way around.
- Adobe Conversion: Yes, technically this solution works for Macs as well, but it’s a better solution on Windows where your options are limited. If you have an active Adobe account with tools like Acrobat or Photoshop, you can use them to quickly save PDFs as a variety of image files. Note that you need the full versions of Acrobat and Photoshop, with a live Adobe account, for this to work – in other words, you have to be paying for it. If you do, however, the process is simple. Go to Tools and look for the option that says Export PDF. From here, select Image to export as an image, and then select Export All Images to convert the full PDF file. There are other conversion settings you can tweak for various changes in color and quality, which is great for tinkering around with a stubborn PDF.
If you’re on Chrome OS
We haven’t forgotten about you, Chromebook users! Your options may be a little more constrained than other operating systems, but you still have conversion solutions to use if necessary. Here’s what we like.
- PDF to JPG App: This is a Chrome Web Store app from ilovepdf.com made especially for Chrome OS users who want a quick way to convert. Much like the Windows 10 app of the same nature, this little tool is simple, doesn’t take up much space, and is great if you frequently need to change file types. Select your PDF file, choose your pages, convert, and save the JPG with a name and location of your choice. A lot of the work is in the cloud, so it won’t waste precious space on your Chromebook, and you have plenty of extra options to convert and compress other formats as needed.
If you’re on MacOS
…Then you’re in luck! Out of all the platforms, Mac probably offers the easiest and most direct option for converting PDFs innately – in other words, you don’t have to download any extra tools to get the job done. Here’s what to do.
- Open a PDF in Preview. In most cases, PDFs should automatically open in Preview unless you’ve chosen another program for the job. You may have to find your PDF file and right click to open in Preview if necessary.
- Now go to File tab, and choose … which will open an export window. Here you can change the name, add tags, choose the export location and, most importantly, choose the export format. Set the Format to JPEG and select Save to finish up. That’s it!
- If you only want to save part of the PDF, then head over to View and make sure Thumbnails is turned on. This allows you to select particular pages via the Thumbnail sidebar.
This process works great for simple conversions. However, you can’t really tweak the PDF in any meaningful way, which could be annoying for more complex projects. We suggest you take a look at our online suggestions for tools that offer more customization and ways to fix problematic PDFs.
If you’re online
Online tools can typically be used from any computer or mobile device. Since they don’t take up any room on your computer and tend to be speedy little converters, you may prefer them to other options. Their only downside is that they tend to be a little limited in the amount of data you can convert at one time, which makes them difficult to use for larger PDF files.
We suggest taking a look to see if any are exactly what you need. Here are a couple of the most dependable. There are many online converters, but some are more reliable than others – and some don’t treat your data with much respect – so research online tools carefully if you go off list.
- Zamzar: This tool was developed by Adobe Systems specifically for switching formats for image-related files, so you know it means business. Zamzar can do pretty much anything to PDFs, which is great when you need to transition them not only into JPGs but also into HTML5, or BMP, or DOCX, or anything else that your project might require. The layout itself is also easy to use and requires very little work to get started. Choose up to 50MB of files, choose what format you want your PDF in, specify an email address to receive files with, and convert. Presto!
- PDFtoJPG.me: PDFtoJPG isn’t necessarily a better tool than Zamzar, but it is different, and may appeal more to your purposes and tastes. You can define your output filename, upload your PDF, specify the page range and the width of output image, and convert. You can even choose your own background color if necessary, or compress the JPG automatically. Really, it’s a lot like opening a printer window, except it converts instead of prints.
Update: This article was originally published March 4, 2013, and updated on October 7, 2016, to include current conversion options. DT staff writer Joe Donovan contributed to this article