Able2Extract Professional 15 review: Don’t bother extracting your wallet

A high asking-price and poor controls don’t make a good combination

Price
$150
  • Good range of conversion tools
  • Attractive interface
  • Frustrating controls
  • Expensive
  • Poor performance

Able2Extract takes a pared-back approach that focuses on presenting the basics in a clean interface. The website describes it as “Your Swiss Army knife for PDF files”, which sounds laudable until you see that it costs $150 compared to $79 for Wondershare’s exceptional PDFelement software. Suddenly the knife seems sharper.

Sadly, its performance is blunt. The barebones Edit Document tab contains tools for editing or adding text, shapes and images, alongside redaction, Bates numbering, merge, insert, delete and resize functions. We found editing to be a fiddly job, with text boxes often taking a few clicks to jump to life. Oddly, you have to manually draw on redactions, highlights and strikethroughs by default, rather than them automatically sticking to a line of text.

The curiosities continue in the Custom Excel tab, which lets you add tables to PDFs and then convert them to an Excel file. In practice, it was laggy and frustrating to control. The Sign and Secure tab, meanwhile, is almost empty: you can add a digital signature, set passwords, toggle a tick-box list of permissions and that’s your lot. 

The form-creation tool is a similar exercise in frustration, with various elements sticking to your mouse and generating old-fashioned dialog boxes that beep at you. It’s lucky that the undo button is huge and located at the left of the toolbar, because you’ll be needing it a lot.

Able2Extract’s saving grace is the Convert tab, which houses a generous selection of file types: CSV, HTML, AutoCAD, TXT, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, GIF, searchable PDF and Microsoft Office. You can also copy a whole PDF to your clipboard, take a screenshot and set batches of PDFs to convert. That “searchable PDF” option implements optical character recognition (OCR) on scans, but results from a dog-eared and yellowing page from a 1981 NME were poor: huge swathes were highlighted in blue when we wanted to pick out an individual sentence and the search function was patchy. 

Able2Extract is easier to navigate than other PDF editors, with a minimalist interface, but that’s because the feature set is slim. That issue is compounded by that fact its performance – even while doing rudimentary edits – was poor and the tucked-away OCR tool was lacklustre compared to cheaper options. 

And that’s the biggest blot on Able2Extract’s copybook: it’s almost double the price of PDFelement and over double that of Sejda PDF Desktop, both of which will provide swifter edits and more tools.

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