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PDF (Portable Document Format) files are used to maintain the look and layout of documents, regardless of the program, operating system, or machine that originally created them—a universal way to share documents. But what if you want to translate a PDF file into a proprietary format such as Microsoft Word, InDesign, Keynote, or Pages? That’s more of a challenge, and that's where Recosoft’s family of PDF conversion tools comes in.

At Macworld 2010, Recosoft demoed its recently released PDF2Office for iWork, a program that lets you convert PDF files into Pages and Keynote documents. Designed for iWork ‘08 and ‘09, the program creates editable Keynote and Pages files by automatically recreating the construction and layout of the document, including paragraphs, styles, graphic elements, images, and tables.

Keeping these documents editable is key because not only can you change the content of a document once you convert it, but you can specify font substitution, opt to exclude certain graphics, and choose how much of the PDF file you want to convert. It supports multiple languages including English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Greek, and Russian. Customizable conversions are accomplished with a single click. The program works with password protected documents too—but you have to know the password.

PDF2Office for iWork lets you specify detailed conversion options.

Recosoft’s products have been around for awhile, and while they're not flashy, they are useful and reasonably priced. The desktop publishing community generally keeps an eye on Recosoft's PDF2ID program, updated last fall, which converts PDFs to InDesign files.

Recosoft's PDF2Office Professional, which the company also demoed on the show floor, recently got a new upgrade to version 5. This version can automatically convert PDFs to native Excel workbook formats and convert files to Office 2008 format, including Excel, Word, PowerPoint, RTF, and HTML. A new PDF reconstruction engine offers enhanced graphics processing, complex layout and PDF data recognition, and improvements in identifying footnotes and headers and footers. In addition, there is now Russian (Cyrillic) and Greek character support.

Version 5 of PDF2Office Personal, similar but not as fully featured as the professional version, will be released on February 25.

The new products work with OS X 10.4.11 or higher, including Snow Leopard. The iWork individual package is $59, with family pack pricing for five computers at $79, and a small business license for up to five computers at $99. PDF2Office Professional 5 is $129, while an education license is $89. Upgrades are $69.

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