Giving back to the community

Cognidox would not exist without the help of many open source projects. Perl, Apache and Solr are just a few of the excellent open source packages that help make CogniDox a leading document management system. So, to show our appreciation, we've released a couple of open source projects such as OfficeToPDF to help others.

You can see all of our open source projects on

OfficeToPDF - what does it do?

OfficeToPDF is a command line utility that converts Microsoft Office 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016 documents from their native format into PDF using Office's in-built PDF export features.

Most Office to PDF converter tools are intended as single-user desktop applications. OfficeToPDF is useful (and unique) if you want to automatically create PDF files on a server-wide basis and free individual users from an extra step of using the "Save as..." command on their Office files. These PDF files can then be stored and managed on a separate server. This can be useful if, for example, a department has a policy of only distributing PDF versions of documents to people outside the department.

There are some technical requirements that must be met before you can use it:

  • .NET Framework 4
  • Office 2016, 2013, 2010 or Office 2007

If you are using Office 2007, you will also need:

  • Visual Studio 2010 Tools for Office Runtime [Download]
  • 2007 Microsoft Office Add-in: Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS [Download]

It is distributed under the Apache 2.0 license.

Supported File Types

The following file types can be converted:

  • Word (.doc, .dot,  .docx, .dotx, .docm, .dotm, .rtf, .wpd)
  • Excel  (.xls, .xlsx, .xlsm, .xlsb, .xlt, .xltx, .xltm, .csv)
  • Powerpoint (.ppt, .pptx, .pptm, .pps, .ppsx, .ppsm, .pot, .potx, .potm)
  • Visio (.vsd, .vsdx, .vsdm, .svg) [Requires >= Visio 2013 for .svg, .vsdx and .vsdm support]
  • Publisher (.pub)
  • Outlook (.msg, .vcf, .ics)
  • Project (.mpp) [Requires Project >= 2010 for .mpp support]
  • OpenOffice (.odt, .odp, .ods)

Conversion of Visio, Publisher and Project files require that the Visio, Publisher and Project applications are installed. These are not included in the Office standard package.


More information about installation and usage can be found on the Cognidox project page:

In order to use the tool, download the officetopdf.exe file and, from the command line, run officetopdf.exe with two arguments - the source Office document and the destination PDF document. e.g.

Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7601]
Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation.  All rights reserved.

C:\Users\test> officetopdf.exe somefile.docx somefile.pdf

Command line switches

The following optional switches can be used:

/bookmarks create bookmarks in the PDF when they are supported by the Office application
/readonly attempts to open the source document in read-only mode
/print create high-quality PDFs optimised for print
/hidden attempts to minimise the Office application when converting
/template <template> use a .dot, .dotx or .dotm template when converting with Word
/markup show document markup when creating PDFs with Word
/pdfa produce ISO 19005-1 (PDF/A) compliant PDFs
/noquit do not exit running Office applications
/excludeprops do not include properties in generated PDF
/excludetags do not include tags in generated PDF
/password provide a read password to open the file with
/writepassword provide a read/write password to open the file with
/merge when using a template, create a new file from the template and merge the text from the document to convert into the new file
/excel_show_formulas show formulas in Excel
/excel_show_headings shows column and row headings
/excel_max_rows <rows> allow a limit on the number of rows to convert
/excel_active_sheet only convert the currently active worksheet in a spreadsheet
/excel_worksheet <num> only convert worksheet <num> in the workbook. First sheet is 1
/excel_auto_macros run Auto_Open macros in Excel files before conversion
/excel_no_link_update do not update links when opening Excel files
/excel_no_recalculate skip automatic re-calculation of formulas in the workbook
/word_header_dist <pts> the distance (in points) from the header to the top of the page
/word_footer_dist <pts> the distance (in points) from the footer to the bottom of the page
/word_field_quick_update perform a fast update of fields in Word before conversion
/word_keep_history do not clear Word's recent files list
/word_max_pages <pages> do not attempt conversion of a Word document if it has more than this number of <pages>
/word_no_field_update do not update fields when creating the PDF
/word_ref_fonts when fonts are not available, a reference to the font is used in the generated PDF rather than a bitmapped version. The default is for a bitmap of the text to be used
/pdf_clean_meta <type> allows for some meta-data to be removed from the generated PDF.
<type> can be:
  • basic - removes author, keywords, creator and subject
  • full - removes all that basic removes and also the title
/pdf_layout <layout> controls how the pages layout in Acrobat Reader.
<layout> can be one of the following values:
  • onecol - show pages as a single scrolling column
  • single - show pages one at a time
  • twocolleft - show pages in two columns, with odd-numbered pages on the left
  •  twocolright - show pages in two columns, with odd-numbered pages on the right
  • twopageleft - show pages two at a time, with odd-numbered pages on the left
  • twopageright - show pages two at a time, with odd-numbered pages on the right
/pdf_page_mode <mode> controls how the PDF will open with Acrobat Reader.
<mode> can be one of the following values:
  • full - the PDF will open in fullscreen mode
  • bookmarks - the PDF will open with the bookmarks visible
  • thumbs - the PDF will open with the thumbnail view visible
  • none - the PDF will open without the navigation bar visible
/pdf_append append the generated PDF to the end of the PDF destination
/pdf_prepend prepend the generated PDF to the start of the PDF destination
/pdf_owner_pass <pass> set the owner password on the PDF. Needed to make modifications to the PDF
/pdf_user_pass <pass> set the user password on the PDF. Needed to open the PDF
/pdf_restrict_accessibility_extraction Prevent all content extraction without the owner password
/pdf_restrict_annotation prevent annotations on the PDF without the owner password
/pdf_restrict_assembly prevent rotation, removal or insertion of pages without the owner password
/pdf_restrict_extraction prevent content extraction without the owner password
/pdf_restrict_forms prevent form entry without the owner password
/pdf_restrict_full_quality prevent full quality printing without the owner password
/pdf_restrict_modify prevent modification without the owner password
/pdf_restrict_print prevent printing without the owner password
/verbose print out messages as it runs
/version print out the version of OfficeToPDF and exit

Error Codes

The following error codes are returned by OfficeToPDF. Note that multiple errors are returned as a bitmask, so bitwise operations can test for multiple errors.

0 - Success
1 - Failure
2 - Unknown Error
4 - File protected by password
8 - Invalid arguments
16 - Unable to open the source file
32 - Unsupported file format
64 - Source file not found
128 - Output directory not found
256 - The requested worksheet was not found
512 - Unable to use an empty worksheet
1024 - Unable to modify or open a protected PDF

About CogniDox

CogniDox is a web-based, document management software tool aimed primarily at supporting high-tech product development. It enables better product lifecycle management and knowledge transfer from developers to partners, clients and customers.

We provide highly-integrated support for system engineering workflows and the product lifecycle. Plug-ins are provided for CMS products, software SCM tools, EDA tools, CRM systems, CAD tools and Help Desk applications. Our "instant Extranet" solution enables companies to add a secure self-service customer portal onto their public web sites.

Based in Cambridge, UK since its formation in 2008, CogniDox has an impressive portfolio of blue chip users – see examples at

Last edited Mar 14 at 12:03 PM by cognidox, version 30


DrDragonek Sep 21, 2016 at 6:17 AM 
Thanks for your quick response. I'll see what I can do about it :)

cognidox Sep 20, 2016 at 11:35 PM 

Unfortunately, the issue you have running in a server context is that MS Office itself isn't necessarily happy about running unattended. It needs DCOM permissions and all its expected folders to be available. This thread may be of some use to you.

DrDragonek Sep 20, 2016 at 2:07 PM 
Is there a way to use your program from windows services? Right now I'm getting Error code 1 - Failure :(


cognidox May 3, 2015 at 8:27 AM 
Error codes are now listed on this page.

tempsmollet May 3, 2015 at 7:04 AM 
Is there a list of the errors returned by the program?

cognidox Aug 18, 2014 at 1:33 PM 
.vsdm and .vsdx support is provided by release 1.4.

reale411 Aug 6, 2014 at 9:37 PM 
Love the program so far, it has saved our team a ton of work. Any chance of getting it to convert .vsdx? Converting from .vsdx to .vsd is causing some formatting issues.