In today’s fast-paced professional and social worlds, the internet reigns supreme. In fact, most activities in which we engage for pleasure or leisure depend upon an internet connection; from submitting a critical report to upper-management in the corporate world, to sharing silly photos with a close friend halfway across the globe, and everything in between. In order to keep up the pace whilst maintaining efficiency, file conversion has evolved into a critical element of today’s linked global society. While I could spend hours reviewing all of the different file formats out there, I am going to keep this piece closer to home and focus on three of the most commonly known: .JPG, .JPEG, and .PDF. Specifically, I will explain what each format is and how you can convert files from .PDF to .JPEG.

.JPG or .JPEG?

Joint Photographic Experts Group format, or .JPEG, is the most common of these three formats. You may also come across images in .JPG format. These images are essentially the same as .JPEGs, except most likely older. The reason is that older Windows operating systems could only handle extension formats of up to three letters. The “e” in experts was placed back in when newer operating systems could handle file extensions longer than three letters1.
.JPEG is within theraster classification format, which uses pixels (individual blocks) to create an image 2. Whenever an image is created in .JPEG format (or any raster format), a specific proportion of pixels based on resolution is assigned to create that image. The upshot of this defined set of pixel dimensions is that the images generally take up less data storage, and resizing does not drastically alter the storage space. The downside is that whenever you resize the file, you are stretching the defined pixels rather than adding/subtracting pixels. Basically, if you want to create a larger image by expanding the dimensions vertically and horizontally by the same rate, you will end up with a lower-quality image because the existing pixels are stretched out of their initial resolution. If you need to print a large, high-resolution image, this format is not recommended.


Portable Document Format, or .PDF, was a format developed by Adobe with the goal of capturing and sharing high-quality documents and images universally across any device 2. Out of the these three formats, .PDF generally is the most versatile. For a start, Mac and Windows devices can view .PDF files as long as they have Adobe Reader software installed, which is free if not already installed. However, the most important elements of .PDF versatility come from the underlying structure of the format.
.PDF is within the vector classification format. Rather than using pixels to create images, vector images are created using dimensional formulas2. Basically, specific formulas of colors, textures, etc. are assigned during image creation. When an image needs to be resized, the formula is multiplied by the size required to fill the gap, rather than stretching pixels out of proportion. Thus, the image’s quality and resolution are maintained regardless of the resize. If you need to turn a logo design into a large banner or sign, .PDF is the way to go.

Converting .PDF to .JPEG

The downside to the .PDF format is its file size. .PDF files can become quite large due to the quality of the underlying elements of composition, often exceeding multiple megabytes per image. While most email systems can handle .PDF images, things can get tricky if you need to share multiple images or extensive documents. If you are willing to sacrifice image quality for efficient file sharing, you can convert .PDF files to .JPEG/.JPG format.
If you have Adobe Acrobat software, then this is no problem. Simply click on the Export PDF tool, then select .JPEG as your image format 3. However, this application is not available with the free Adobe Reader software. If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat, don’t worry! There are many free file conversion programs out there for installation. As with any free software out there, caution is advised so you don’t mistakenly download an application filled with malware or other invasive bugs. Fortunately, a consumer reporting site called TechRadar recently compiled a list of the top free .PDF to .JPEG conversion applications available for download 4. Here, you can read a detailed description of each program so you can decide which program is right for you based on what you need and what to watch out for.