How to Open a PDF in Google Docs: A Step-by-Step Guide


Matthew Burleigh

Opening a PDF in Google Docs might seem tricky, but it’s actually pretty simple. All you need is a Google account and a PDF you want to open. In just a few clicks, you’ll have your PDF ready to view and edit in Google Docs. Ready to learn how? Let’s dive in!

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Open a PDF in Google Docs

Before we start, let’s clarify what we’re about to do. By following these steps, you’ll be able to view and edit the text of a PDF file within Google Docs. Keep in mind this works best with PDFs that are mostly text-based.

Step 1: Log in to Google Drive

Start by logging into your Google Drive account.

Google Drive is the home base for all your files and where Google Docs lives. If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to create one. It’s free and only takes a few minutes.

Step 2: Upload the PDF file

Click on the "New" button, then select "File upload" to add your PDF to Google Drive.

You can drag and drop the PDF directly into the Drive window, or click through your folders to find the file you want to upload.

Step 3: Right-click on the uploaded PDF file

Once the PDF is uploaded, find it in your Drive, right-click on it, and choose "Open with," then "Google Docs."

This step tells Google Drive that you want to open the PDF using Google Docs, which will convert the file into an editable document.

Step 4: Edit the PDF in Google Docs

Your PDF will now be open in Google Docs as a text document.

Keep in mind that the formatting might look different from the original PDF, especially if it had images or complex layouts. But you can now edit the text as if you’d created the document in Google Docs from scratch.

After completing these steps, your PDF will be opened in Google Docs, and you can start editing. Be aware that the conversion process isn’t perfect, especially if the PDF has lots of images or fancy formatting. But for simple, text-heavy documents, it’s a game-changer.

Tips for Opening a PDF in Google Docs

  • Ensure your PDF file isn’t too large; smaller files convert more smoothly.
  • The simpler the PDF, the better the conversion to Google Docs will be.
  • If the conversion isn’t perfect, you may need to spend some time reformatting.
  • Keep the original PDF file in case you need to refer back to it.
  • Use Google Chrome for the best Google Docs experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of PDFs work best for conversion to Google Docs?

Text-heavy PDFs without complicated formatting convert most cleanly to Google Docs.

Can I convert a scanned PDF document into an editable Google Docs file?

Yes, but the success of the conversion depends on the quality of the scan. Poor quality scans may not convert well.

Will the images in my PDF show up in Google Docs?

Images may not always convert perfectly and could appear out of place or not at all. You might need to add them again manually.

Can I convert a PDF to Google Docs on my phone?

Yes, you can, using the Google Drive app, but the editing features are more limited than on a computer.

What do I do if my PDF won’t convert to Google Docs?

Try opening a different PDF to see if the issue is with the specific file. If it persists, consider using a dedicated PDF editor.


  1. Log in to Google Drive.
  2. Upload the PDF file.
  3. Right-click on the uploaded PDF file.
  4. Edit the PDF in Google Docs.


Opening a PDF in Google Docs is a straightforward process that can make editing documents a breeze. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or just someone who needs to make quick edits to a PDF, knowing how to do this can save you a lot of time and hassle. Remember, while the conversion isn’t always perfect, especially for more complex files, it works wonders for text-based PDFs. So, the next time you have a PDF that needs tweaking, give it a shot—open it in Google Docs and watch the magic happen. Happy editing!

Matthew Burleigh

Matthew Burleigh has been writing tech content online for more than ten years. He enjoys writing about Google Docs in addition to many other applications and devices and has cumulatively covered Google’s word-processing application in hundreds of different articles.

He has been published on dozens of popular websites, and his works have accumulated millions of pageviews.
While focused primarily on tutorials and guides for popular electronics like the iPhone and iPad, as well as common applications like Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel, he covers topics across the entire technology spectrum.

You can read his bio here.

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