How to Open a PDF in Google Docs Quickly and Easily


Do you ever find yourself in a position where you need to open pdfs on your computer, but don’t have Adobe Acrobat installed? In this tutorial, we will show you how to open pdf files in Google Docs.

Before we get started with the article, if you are looking to learn more about apps like Notion, Todoist, Evernote, Google Docs, or just how to be more productive (like Keep Productive’s awesome Notion course), you should really check out SkillShare. Skillshare is an online learning platform with courses on pretty much anything you want to learn. To learn more about Skillshare and its vast library of courses and get 30% off, click the link below:

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How to Open a PDF in Google Docs

To open a pdf file in Google Docs, do the following:

  1. Go to https://drive.google.com to access Google Drive
  2. Click “My Drive”
  3. In the “My Drive” drop-down menu, select “Upload files”
  4. In the file explorer, select the pdf file and click “Open”
  5. Once your file is in Google Drive, right-click on the pdf file and select “Open with” and “Google Docs” from the available options
  6. The contents of your pdf file will now be in a Google Doc

Go to drive.google.com

Google Drive
Google Drive

Open up a web browser and go to https://drive.google.com. Log in if you are not already logged into Google.

Click “My Drive”

Click on "My Drive"
Click on “My Drive”

You should now see a screen like the screenshot above. Click on the “My Drive” drop-down as shown above.

Select “Upload files”

Select "File Upload"
Select “File Upload”

After you click “My Drive”, you should see a bunch of menu options. Click on the “Upload files” option from the menu as shown in the screenshot above.

In the file explorer, select your pdf file

Select your PDF file and click "Open"
Select your PDF file and click “Open”

You should now see the file explorer, navigate to the folder containing your pdf file, select it and click the “Open” button to upload the file to Google Drive.

Right-click on the pdf file in Google Drive and select “Open to” and “Google Docs”

Right click on PDF in Google Drive and go to Open with -> Google Docs
Right-click on PDF in Google Drive and go to Open with -> Google Docs

You should now have the pdf file uploaded into your Google Drive account. The next thing we need to do is right-click on the file, select “Open with” and then select “Google Docs” from the available options as shown in the screenshot above.

PDF opened in Google Docs
PDF opened in Google Docs

The contents of your pdf should now appear in a new Google Doc as shown in the screenshot above.

Does Opening a pdf in Google Docs Preserve Formatting?

Google Docs isn't perfect at reformatting PDF files
Google Docs isn’t perfect at reformatting PDF files

No, while Google Docs does a surprisingly good job of converting the pdf content to Google Docs format, it does not preserve formatting. If your pdf is mostly text, then Google Docs should do a pretty good job with the formatting. However, if there are a bunch or images and other non-standard items in your pdf, Google Docs will struggle a bit to reformat properly.

PDF Expert
PDF Expert

If you are looking to preserve the formatting of the pdf, I would recommend using an application like PDF Expert instead.

Should I use Google Docs to Convert pdfs?

Yes, you should use Google Docs to open pdf files as long as you are comfortable with the loss of some of the formatting. You are able to edit pdf documents in the same way that you would any other document on Google Drive. This feature is extremely helpful if you need a pdf converted into an editable format for sharing or collaboration purposes.

Possible problems may be encountered when converting pdfs into Google Docs. If you have a pdf with complicated formatting, some of the design may be lost in translation to doc format and make it difficult to read or edit afterward. Likewise, images within pdf files can sometimes get compressed when converted from pdfs making them look fuzzy or distorted on screen.

Looking to learn how to use footnotes and citations in Google Docs? Check out our detailed guide to footnotes and citations in Google Docs.

What are the Best applications for converting PDF files?

There are several applications that are great at handling and converting pdf files:

  • Adobe Acrobat Standard
  • Foxit PhantomPDF Standard
  • PDF Expert

As I mentioned earlier, if you are looking to edit PDF files regularly, I highly recommend going with PDF Expert as it has a ton of features and does a great job editing PDF files.

Other Google Docs Tutorials and HowTos

Article TitleLink to Tutorial
How to Open a PDF in Google Docslink
How to Create a Survey in Google Docslink
How to Use Google Docs Equation Editorlink
How to Add Code Blocks to Google Docslink
How to Use Footnotes and Citations in Google Docslink
How to Sort a List Alphabetically in Google Docslink
How to Use the Google Docs Outline Toollink
Is the Google Docs Word Count Accurate?link
Ultimate Guide to Using Tables in Google Docslink

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