How to Change File Formats

In the not so distant past, it wasn’t all that easy to change the format of a file. Today, there are any number of programs that will change one file format into another with just a click of the mouse!

Data, or document files can be converted using some of the following:

  • Sometimes I want to create .PDF documents. They are a great way to turn a big Word or Publisher document into a small high definition bundle to send to my friends. I use Primo PDF Converter to do this, but there are lots of other programs of the same ilk. Once the program is installed, I simply open the document I want to convert and then request that it be printed. In the Print dialogue box, I choose Primo PDF. Nothing seems to happen, but eventually the Primo PDF dialogue box opens, and I make my selections. I attach the PDF document to an email, and send it off. Within minutes my friends and family have received my Annual Christmas letter or all the recipes from the Ukrainian Feast.
  • Conversely, sometimes I export material from a program into .PDF format, but ultimately want it to be a Word document.  For that, I use Smart PDF Converter. To use this program, open it up, and then drag the file you want to convert into the Smart PDF Converter window. Follow the rest of the directions. The free version will convert up to 3 pages of material.
  • Microsoft Access is a database program that I use a lot. I like the extreme flexibility it gives you in producing reports. It is limited, however, in how to save the reports for viewing in another program. Depending on the version of Access, reports can be converted to .PDF, either with an external program, or from within Access Version 2007. The report can also be exported to Word by selecting Tools, Office Links, Publish as Word.  Both of these techniques are reasonably successful if the report is in a single column, and is quite simple. Lastly, the report can be exported to the Snapshot (*.snp) format which lets it be viewed by someone who doesn’t have Access on their computer. There are programs that will convert .SNP files into .JPG, etc, but I haven’t tried those out yet.

Image conversion is supported by a great number of programs. Sometimes the only big choice you have to make is which format to convert to from the dozens of files that are supported. I am very big on converting images into the .PNG format. This format creates relatively small files with lossless compression.

  • Microsoft Office has a nifty program called Office Picture Manager that can change your pictures from one format to another with an export tool. This option is on the toolbar on the right hand side of the screen. The program exports into JPG, PNG, BMP, TIFF, and GIF. Most importantly, for me anyhow, is that it lets me view all the WMF clip art that Windows 7 no longer supports. It also lets me bulk convert these WMF files into something I can see in Windows Explorer. Office Picture Manager will also bulk resize graphics files.
  • I  use several programs for viewing and rotating graphics files. One is FastStone Image Viewer and the other is  XnView. Both of them support lossless rotation of .JPG files, which is the best reason to use them. FastStone supports all major graphics formats (about 20 or so). XnView  will import about 400 file formats and export to about 50.

Movies can be converted too. Windows Users can open the Windows Movie Maker. It comes with Windows XP and Vista, but not with Windows 7. For Windows 7, you have to download Windows Live Movie Maker. This program makes it easy to compress movies into a size that you can send in emails. There are likely other programs with far greater functionality than Windows Movie Maker, but I haven’t tried any of them.

Just when you think you’ve got all the answers, they change the questions.

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