It’s never fun to inherit a PowerPoint slide deck only to find the original presentation left the company along with the original presenter. However, now with Adobe Acrobat Pro XI you can export the Portable Document File (PDF) of a presentation back to PowerPoint so you can continue working on the slides or cherry pick the good parts for a new presentation you are creating. This new feature doesn’t create images of slides rather it creates a fully editable PPTX file that you have full edit access to in Microsoft PowerPoint. The export includes text, tables, objects, and even master layouts,

For this post, I am using a pre-release version of Adobe Acrobat Pro XI and PowerPoint 2010 but the steps I outline will work with the final shipping version of Acrobat Pro XI and any version of PowerPoint that supports the *.pptx format. There is no need to purchase or even download any plug-ins or helper applications. The export process even saves any annotated notes as speaker notes in the exported version of the PowerPoint presentation.

Export a PDF back to PowerPoint

If you are a regular Adobe Acrobat user, you may already have used it to export PDFs back to Microsoft Word and Excel. This new Adobe Acrobat feature follows a very similar export process.

To convert a PDF back to PowerPoint:

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat XI Pro. The main window appears.
  2. Open the presentation PDF that you want to export to PowerPoint. .
  3. Click Tools. The Tools menu opens in the sidebar.
  4. Click Content Editing. The Content Editing sub-menu appears (Figure A)

Figure A

The Content Editing sub-menu
  1. Click Export File to….
  2. Optionally, select just the slides you want to export to PowerPoint otherwise you’ll be exporting the entire slide deck.
  3. Click Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation. The Save As dialog box appears similar to Figure B.

Figure B

Save As dialog box
  1. Optionally, click Settings. The PPTX Settings dialog box (Figure C) opens. These settings control the finer aspects of the PDF to PowerPoint export. Perform one of the following options to change your settings:
    1. Select Include Comments to ensure that any comments that were annotated in the PDF document carry over to the new PowerPoint file. This feature is selected by default.
    2. Select Run OCR if Needed. You can also select a language for the OCR settings. This feature is selected by default.
    3. Click OK or Restore Defaults.

Figure C

Save as PPTX Settings dialog box
  1. Choose a location where you want to save the Exported PowerPoint file. Click Save. You can see the progress of the export process on the screen.

Work with exported PowerPoint file

The new export process for PowerPoint in Adobe Acrobat Pro XI produces a fully editable PowerPoint (*.pptx) file. It preserves many of the vector images, PowerPoint objects, and font choices from the original presentation before it was converted into a PDF document.

My experience running the PDF to PowerPoint export was largely positive. However, that doesn’t mean that it might not choke exporting more complex PowerPoint presentations or cause some age-old PowerPoint bad practices to come back and haunt you once you have an exported presentation. So I would keep my expectations reasonable on the overall export process.

Here is my recommended approach for working with newly exported PowerPoint files:

  1. Open the PowerPoint export in PowerPoint. Figure D shows the exported PowerPoint file ready for editing and the PDF annotations now appear as editable speaker notes, which you can delete or edit, depending on your next presentation.

Figure D

Exported PowerPoint slides are ready to edit
  1. Review the formatting and text of the exported slides to ensure that there are no issues with especially with images and text formatting in the slides.
  2. Perform one of the following options:
    1. Copy out the slides you need from the exported slide deck into another presentation as needed.
    2. Edit and revise the full presentation just as you would any PowerPoint presentation.
  3. If your organization uses a standard PowerPoint slide template, and you intend to use the presentation as is, you want to make that the final stop for the process by attaching the template to the presentation.

Copy and paste from a PDF into PowerPoint

If you are seeking a more quick and dirty method for getting content out of a PDF slide deck, open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro XI and then copy and paste the good parts into your PowerPoint presentation.

Power over your presentation archives

If you work a lot with PDFs and PowerPoint presentations, the capability to export from PDF to PowerPoint alone could be worth the cost of upgrading to Adobe Acrobat Pro or Standard XI. The one advancement I would like to see in this feature would be batch handling of the export but that is far from a showstopper considering the value that this export feature can bring by doing away with the age-old frustration of not being able to revise and reuse content from a PDF of a presentation.

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