Import PDF content into PowerPoint
How can I convert a PDF to PowerPoint?
Suppose you have a PDF made from a PowerPoint file ... a PowerPoint file that no longer exists. But you need to use it as a PowerPoint file, not a PDF. Or suppose you have a PDF generated from some other program.
- Is there a way to convert a PowerPoint-generated PDF back into the original PowerPoint presentation, or something like it - a completely editable presentation?
- Is there a way to convert a PDF, regardless of source, into a PowerPoint presentation that just looks like the original PDF?
Two different questions with more than two very different answers. Let's look at them in order.
Convert a PDF made from PowerPoint into a presentation that looks and acts like the original
If hope to convert an Acrobat PDF file into a look-alike/act-alike PowerPoint version of the same file, you probably can't get there from here.
If you'd like to know what can go wrong and why it's so hard to get a perfect conversion, see Why's It So Hard?. Otherwise, just accept that perfection isn't possible and read on to learn how to do the best you can with what you've got.
Use a conversion program
There are programs that convert PDFs into PowerPoint presentations or into graphics that can be imported into PowerPoint and editied.
None of them can do a perfect job, but the results can be quite good.
- We tested AnyBizSoft PDF to PowerPoint Converter and found it quite useful (and very reasonably priced at around US$30)
- pdf2picture from Visual Integrity batch converts PDFs (or just selected pages) to EMF, WMF or BMP graphics. You can insert the EMF/WMF graphics into your presentations, ungroup and edit them.
- it's worth checking the current crop of PDF tools at places like Planet PDF and PDFZone
Use Photoshop, Illustrator, CorelDraw
And as our ever-vigilant Adam Crowley points out:
If you have Photoshop (not sure which version first had this feature - at least 6 and 7) you can batch convert PDF pages into PSDs at a chosen resolution etc. These can then be converted into JPEGs, PNGs etc (also as a batch) for insertion into PowerPoint using File, Automate, Multi-Page PDF to PSD
Similarly, Some PDFs can be opened or imported into illustration/graphcs programs like Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW, where you can edit the results before exporting to another graphics file that you can import into PowerPoint.
Note that PDFs can be locked against opening and/or editing/printing; in such cases, many of these tricks won't work.
Make it look like the original PPT or PDF
You have several options if you simply need a PowerPoint presentation that appears identical to the original PPT or PDF (but that isn't editable and contains none of the interactivity of the original).
High resolution bitmaps from Acrobat Reader
With nothing more than the free Acrobat Reader, you can import high or low resolution bitmaps of PDF pages into your presentations.
- Open your PDF in Reader.
- Select the snapshot tool, drag the crosshairs to draw a box around area you want to copy. The snapshot tool automatically copies the selected area to the clipboard; you can then paste it into PowerPoint. If you want higher resolution, zoom in on the image while it's still selected, then rightclick it and choose "Copy Selected Graphic".
Don't get too frisky with the zoom control. If you zoom in too close, you can put too much data on the clipboard and slow down or even crash your computer. Start at a fairly low zoom setting like 200% and work your way up to a value that works well for you.
In Mac PowerPoint, you can use the Insert Picture From File command, choose your PDF and click OK. Couldn't be quicker and easier. Drawbacks: you can only insert the first page of a PDF this way, and the result is rather low-resolution. Try it. If it works, great. If not, use the Reader method above.
Export graphics files from Acrobat
If you have Acrobat (not just the free Reader) you can use it to open the PDF and export a page or pages to any of several graphics formats that PowerPoint can import. Choose File, Save as and pick the file type you want (PNG is probably best in most cases). Once you've exported graphics files, use PowerPoint's Insert, Picture, From File command to bring the pictures into your presentation.
If you have more than just a few pages to add this way, see BATCH IMPORT images into PowerPoint.
Make the PDF display without bringing it into PowerPoint
If you need to display the contents of the PDF but don't need to edit it, it may be best to use the PDF AS a PDF. That way you preserve any interactivity that's already built into the PDF.
Note that all of these methods assume that Acrobat, Adobe Reader or some other PDF viewer is installed on the computer where the presentation will be viewed.
PDF as PDF outside PowerPoint
You can create an action button that hyperlinks to a PDF. When the user clicks the buttom, PowerPoint launchs the PDF viewing program and displays the PDF.
Since the PDF is linked rather than embedded, the links are liable to break when you move the PowerPoint file to another computer. To avoid this, you can embed the PDF instead:
PDF as PDF inside PowerPoint
- From the main menu bar, choose Insert, Object. The Insert Object dialog box appears.
- In the Insert Object dialog box, click "Create from file" .
- Click Browse.
- Choose the PDF you want to insert.
- PowerPoint embeds the PDF and displays an Adobe Acrobat icon.
- Rightclick the icon and choose Action Settings. The Action Settings dialog box appears.
- In the Action Settings dialog box, click "Object action" and choose "Edit".
- Click OK.
A copy of the PDF is now embedded in your PPT file, meaning that you won't have to worry about links breaking when you move the file to another computer or send it to someone else. Other than that, it behaves similarly to the linked PDFs described above.
Link to a specific page within a PDF
Whether or not this trick works may depend on your version of Acrobat/Reader and where the PDF file resides.
Add an action setting to a shape. Make it a Run Program action and fill in the program info as follows:
"full path to acrobat or acrobat reader.exe" /A "page=pagenumber=OpenActions" "full path to the PDF"
Put that all on one line and substitute the page you want to open to for pagenumber above, and be sure to put quotes around everything as shown above.
For example, with Adobe Reader 9 installed in the default location and a file called test.pdf in C:\temp, this will open the PDF to page 2 when the link is clicked during a presentation.
"C:\Program Files\Adobe\Reader 9.0\Reader\AcroRd32.exe" /A "page=2=OpenActions" "C:\temp\test.pdf"
When the user clicks the link during a show, PowerPoint will probably natter about security. We can only hope that Microsoft will some day learn how utterly unacceptable this is.
PDF as PDF within a Web Page within PowerPoint
Shyam Pillai's free LiveWeb add-in allows you to display a PDF within a web page within a PPT slide. Sounds odd, but it preserves all the PDF's interactivity and keeps all the PDF content on your slide. The user isn't whisked off to another program to display the PDF.
- Load the add-in, select Insert | Web Pages.
- In the address field type the path to the PDF file and proceed to complete the wizard prompt.
Why's it so hard?
If the PDF came from PowerPoint in the first place, why is it so hard to convert it back?
- Turning a PPT into a PDF is like turning meat, veggies, spices and water into stew.
- Turning the PDF back into a PPT is like turning the stew back into the original meat, veggies, spices and water.
The job of the PDF conversion is to preserve the appearance and sometimes the interactivity of the original PowerPoint file. As long as it looks (and better yet, behaves) the same, the job's been well done.
But the conversion from PPT to PDF won't preserve the fact that a certain bit of text was a Title and that it inherited its size, position and formatting from the original presentation's title master, as long as the appearance of the text is preserved. It might combine several different text shapes into one text object or break a single piece of text into multiple pieces of text. It might convert all of the graphics on the slide into one bitmap image. Or do any number of other things that give you a PDF that looks exactly like the original PPT slide but preserve little or nothing of the original slide's "PowerPoint-ness".
So when you convert the PDF back to PPT, you'll get the text in the right place (usually) and correctly formatted (generally) but it'll be a plain text box, not real title text in a title text placeholder. The individual graphic shapes on the slides may have turned into a single bitmap image that can't be ungrouped for editing.
This isn't the fault of the PDF to PowerPoint conversion; it's simply that the PDF, though it may look like the original, is NOT the original and doesn't contain the information needed to reconstruct the original.
Ingredients to Stew? Easy.
Stew back to Ingredient? Not possible.