August 25, 2013 - 17:00 — GretchenNovakXu

Looking for a free, easy way to convert files from one format to another? Perhaps you have some old documents you want to open that were created using a program you no longer have access to. Or maybe you have some home videos on your computer that you need to convert to another format so you can play them on your phone. Whatever the reason you need to convert files, there are a variety of different tools you can use to do the job.

File conversion tools come in two types. One type is software that you must download and install on your computer. If you need to convert a file over 100 MB in size (such as a large video file), installing file conversion software may be your best option. For smaller files, however, you can take advantage of free, Web-based (no software download required!) file conversion tools.

Three of the most popular Web-based file conversion tools are Online Convert (http://www.online-convert.com), YouConvertIt (http://www.youconvertit.com/ConvertFiles.aspx) and Zamzar (http://www.zamzar.com). Of these, the one that seems to offer the most features and support the largest number of unusual filetypes is Zamzar, so that is the one I'll focus on in this post.

Using Zamzar to Convert Files Online

When you visit Zamzar's home page, you will see a box that looks like this:

 

Follow the instructions on the site to convert your file:

  1. Click the "Browse" button and select the file or files you want to convert. Zamzar supports over 100 different file formats for conversion, including a variety of formats of word processor documents, spreadsheets, images, audio files, videos, and ebooks. You can only convert up to 5 files at a time (up to a total size of 100 MB), but there is no limit to the number of files you can convert per day.
  2. Pick the file format you want to convert to. The options that are available to you will depend on the format of the file you're converting. For example, you can usually convert one format of video file to a different format of video file, but you can't convert a video into an Excel spreadsheet. A full list of formats that Zamzar converts between can be found here.
  3. Enter your e-mail address.
  4. Click the "Convert" button. Zamzar will send you an e-mail containing a link from which you can download each converted file. This e-mail usually arrives within a few minutes, but can take up to an hour if the website is busy or your file is particularly large. Your file will be available for download for 24 hours.

Converting Files by E-mail

Zamzar also gives you the option of converting files by e-mail instead of through their website: just send an e-mail with your files attached to [format]@zamzar.com, replacing [format] with the file extension for the format you want to convert to (pdf for PDF files, doc for Word documents, etc. See here for a full list). There is no limit to the number of files you can convert in one e-mail, but each file must be 1 MB or less in size. Below is an example of what your e-mail might look like if you wanted to convert a few PDF files to Word:

 

Text-to-Speech Conversion

Zamzar also offers text-to-speech conversion. If you have a document in one of several formats including Microsoft Word, PDF, or plain text, Zamzar gives you the option of converting it to an mp3 file with the text being read out loud by a computer-synthesized voice. This can be useful if you have difficulty reading from a screen or simply want to listen to a document rather than read it.

I have tried converting several different types of files with Zamzar, and everything seems to work as promised. Hope this helps you with your file converting needs!

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