Zamzar

convert-it-sm.jpg

The web-based file conversion service Zamzar has saved my bacon on a number of occasions. I’m a college English professor who teaches composition, and in the Before Times, I was endlessly frustrated by students submitting their essays in every odd format imaginable (.docx, .wps, .wpf, etc.) — this despite my pleas that they be saved in the more platform/version friendly Rich Text Format. Consequently, I spent an awful lot of my time running from my office Mac to the PC lab and back to handle time-consuming conversions. Needless to say, it was a major timesink.

Zamzar changes all that by offering a robust, quick, and excellent conversion service: you upload the file you’d like it to convert, select the output format and your email, and you’re off. In the span of an hour (sometimes quicker), you’ll get an email with a unique link taking you to a page where you can download the converted file, which remains active for a day. You can also upload multiple files in a batch, which comes in handy when you’re looking at half a dozen different student file formats and would like them
all similarly converted. I even got a successful .doc conversion made from a colleague’s Publisher file (who uses that?).

I’ve used Zamzar only for about 3 months now, but usually once or twice a week, and it’s never failed me except for a .pub to .doc conversion, which had some minor layout issues (things weren’t where they were supposed to be). Although I’ve only used it primarily for word-processing documents, Zamzar also converts to and from a variety of image, audio, and video file formats ranging from the common to the exotic. You don’t even need an account to get Zamzar to convert files, although having one ensures that you’ll get a converted file faster, have more online storage, an individual file capacity of up to 1GB (as opposed to the free 100MB), and no banner ads. Because I deal primarily with smallish text files, the free service is still plenty fine with me (I get emails linking to my converted file usually within half an hour of submitting it). And I’m happy to weather the relatively unobtrusive ad assault for a free, quick, and idiot-proof way of converting files on the fly.

-- Professor Ben McCorkle