Convert PDF to PDF/A Using Power Automate

In this guide, you’ll learn how to archive files by converting them to PDF/A using Power Automate.

It’s important to note that you can easily customize this example to save your archive files to destinations like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or any platform supported by Power Automate.

What Does PDF/A Aim to Achieve?

PDF/A aims to produce files with static content that can be precisely reproduced both today and in the future. Files that are subject to long-term archiving should work regardless of the device or operating system used. The future usability of PDF/A files must also be guaranteed in a manufacturer-independent manner, and this includes Adobe. PDF/A is a “complete” format, which means that PDF files that comply with the PDF/A standard are complete on their own and use no external references or non-PDF data. The PDF/A-1 standard is based on PDF/A specification 1.4, which means that it works within the technical scope of the functions available in Acrobat 5.

A range of rules must be observed when generating PDF/A files to meet these goals. For example, when generating PDF/A files, it’s important to embed all fonts and clearly specify all colors. Forms, comments, and notes are only permitted to a limited extent. Compression is allowed as a general rule, but LZW and JPEG2000 are excluded. Transparent objects and layers (optional content groups) aren’t permitted. PDF/A uses rules for metadata that are based on the Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP). A PDF/A file must also identify itself as such.

Please note that to use this functionality, you need the [OCR and PDF/A Archiving][] add-on license, in addition to a valid PDF Converter for SharePoint On-Premises or PDF Converter Services license.

Using Power Automate to Convert to PDF/A


Ensure the following prerequisites are in place:

  • An Office 365 subscription with a SharePoint Online license.
  • Muhimbi [PDF Converter for Power Automate][] full subscription. Note: The free version doesn’t support this functionality.
  • Appropriate privileges to create flows.
  • Working knowledge of SharePoint Online and Microsoft Power Automate.

Creating a New Flow in Power Automate

The steps to convert a document to PDF/A are shown from a high-level perspective in the following image.

create new flow

Create a new flow and use the When a file is created or modified in a folder SharePoint Online trigger. Fill out the URL for the Site Address and select the relevant SharePoint Folder Id.

convert pdf to pdfa

Converting PDF to PDF/A with Power Automate

Insert Muhimbi’s Convert document action and fill it out as detailed below.

  • Source file namex-ms-file-name-encoded
  • Source file contentFile Content
  • Output formatPDF
  • Override settings — These are optional settings using Muhimbi’s XML syntax. To control the PDF version on a request-by-request basis, specify the XML in this field:

create pdf file

Creating a File

Insert a Create file action to write the converted PDF/A file back to SharePoint Online.

  • File Name — Specify Base File name.pdf, which is the output variable of the Convert document action.

  • File Content — Select Processed file content, which is the output variable of the Convert document action.

    pdf to pdfa workflow

  1. Publish the workflow and upload any document. After a few seconds, the flow will trigger and a PDF/A file will be generated in the target location.

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