Simple PDF is a very interesting online PDF tool, which means you can access it from any device, even a phone or tablet.
Its purpose is to help you convert files to and from the PDF format. There are also tools to merge PDFs and even convert scanned PDFs into searchable text via Optical Character Recognition.
That’s quite a bit of functionality, and perhaps best of all, this is a free service – though you have to wonder how they make their money.
Simple PDF: Interface
- Easy web access
- Easy navigation through clean interface
Whatever device you have, you can access the service via a web browser. Once there you will find that the interface is as sparse as they come. You are blessed with 15 icons organized in rows and columns (the size will adjust depending on the size of your screen).
How this works is simple: start by selecting the tool you want to use.
You can convert documents to various other file formats such as PDF to Word, PDF to Powerpoint, PDF to Exceland PDF to AutoCAD. It is also possible to change file types to Text, JPG, PNG or GIF. Each has its own icon to click on, so it’s easy to get started.
The reverse is also possible, by converting a Word document to PDF or JPG to PDF. However, your options are much more limited in that direction.
So let’s take a look at some of these tools.
Easy PDF: PDF Conversion
- Fast to upload, slow to download
- Excellent automatic OCR
Select the appropriate icon and you will be prompted to provide the service with a file. You can do this by dragging one from your computer directly onto the page. You can also import via Dropbox or Google Drive.
The upload is very fast, but it takes a while for the conversion to take place. Obviously, the more complex the document, the longer it takes, although there is a noticeable delay even for simple files, containing only a few pages of plain text. If you have one with a photo or a complex layout, it will take even longer.
Once completed, you can download the results, and that’s painfully slow too. It is also possible to download the finished product back to the two cloud storage Services.
One thing we particularly liked was when converting a scanned PDF to Word. Our scanner simply converts the page to an image, but during the conversion process, Easy PDF automatically performs a OCR through the page and convert that photo into selectable and editable text. It’s not perfect (there’s no OCR in our experience), but it’s more than good enough.
But it’s not perfect: we encountered cases where the conversion failed, but we were able to re-upload the original and it would work the second time around. Even very simple documents sometimes failed, with no explanation why.
- PDF conversion score: 4/5
Simple PDF: Convert to PDF
- Can convert JPG and Word to PDF
- Frequent failures
The habits JPG to PDF tool worked as expected. The principle is exactly the same as trying to convert a PDF to a different format, with each step being similar – you just need to select a different icon at the beginning.
The service came up a notch when we tried to use? Word to PDF. We tried different files. Complex files, files with columns, files with images, files with only plain text. They have all failed. Each of them.
Maybe the service was having a bad day? Possibly, so we tried it another day, and this time it worked. Which tells us that the service is not reliable. You can’t really wait a few hours or even a day if you need to convert a file now.
You may not experience this yourself when you try out the service, but knowing that Easy PDF can fail so easily – and often when we tried – makes it hard to recommend.
- Convert to PDF Score: 2/5
Simple PDF: PDF Manipulation
- Disappointing PDF creation tool
- Other tools regularly failed
We now come to what appears to be useful tools: ‘PDF Creation’, ‘PDF Split’ and ‘PDF Merge’.
We were eager to explore it, but we were disappointed quite quickly.
Take ‘Create PDF’ (please, as the old joke goes). We expected to be able to create a PDF, ie edit it in some way, to differentiate that tool from the other ‘XX to PDF’ icons available.
Instead, this is just a tool to convert any file format (more than 100 file formats according to the service) into a PDF. Upload it, click ‘Create PDF’ and it is (eventually) converted. You can’t even add multiple files to convert them all at once, so essentially it’s just a simplification of the individual tools we’ve already explored above. Definitely feels like duplication. It would probably be easier to remove those other icons and just bring them to the front and center to clean up the interface.
‘PDF Split’ sounds interesting: you upload a PDF and split it into separate pages… but it just wouldn’t work for us. The files we tried uploaded fine, but then we waited for the service to tell us that the ‘PDF preview is loading…’
We waited. And waited. Even a simple three-page PDF composed of plain text made us wait forever. We went back to it the next day and it was still ‘Loading PDF Preview…’ So we gave up.
What about ‘Merge PDF’? That’s another cool sounding idea, allowing you to combine multiple PDFs into one document. Uploading multiple files was easy. But it just didn’t work. Even very simple, regular PDFs wouldn’t merge. We even tried to merge two copies of the same regular document. No dice. Each time we got ‘Failed to merge file!’
Let’s end with a highlight: ‘OCR Online’. Lets you convert data from an image to a Text, Word, or Excel document. Everything is automatic. Once the conversion process is complete, your image is converted to editable text. And that particular service worked for us.
- PDF manipulation score: 1/5
Simple PDF: Terms
- Opaque Terms
- Installs cookies on your machine
So reliability isn’t that great, and if you can’t trust a service, would you even use it regularly?
Then we come to the conditions. We are assured that Easy PDF is anonymous, your connection is secure, your files will be deleted after 6 hours – similar to Sejdawith a secure 2-hour automatic data clearing function.
Easy PDF installs cookies on your device to make it work, they claim. But in recent years we have become extremely wary of ‘free’ services. Personally, we wouldn’t hand over our cloud storage usernames and passwords, but maybe you guys would be more trusting souls.
Simple PDF: Final Verdict
Easy PDF may be “easy” to upload files to it, but everything else feels haphazard. Sometimes the service worked, other times it didn’t. It claims to offer unlimited PDF conversions, which would be great, if you didn’t have to wait and wait for the process to fail more often – in our experience, at least. As is often the case, ‘your mileage may vary’.
There is also the trust aspect. Can you trust a free online PDF conversion service to keep your anonymity? They do state that “the data that your [sic] that you give us will only be used for document conversion and website analysis”. But what exactly that website analysis is remains a mystery.
If the service were to work reliably, it could nevertheless be easily recommended.
But alas, it didn’t. If you have a Mac, you don’t really need this service, as you can convert any file to a PDF directly from the Print command, and PDF manipulation is a synchronization using the Apple example PDF reader and editor app.
Simple PDF Scorecard
|Couple||Clean and simple||5|
|PDF conversion||Fast to upload, slow to download||4|
|Convert to PDF||Only converts Word and JPG, and not very well||2|
|PDF manipulation||Misleading tools, unreliable||1|
|requirements||Opaque Ts & Cs||2|