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 therefore be visually reproduced entirely precisely today and in many years' time. Files 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. This means that PDF files that comply with the PDF/A standard are complete in themselves 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 in order to meet the goals named above. For example, when generating PDF/A, it is 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) are not permitted. PDF/A uses rules for metadata that are based on XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform). Finally, a PDF/A file must identify itself as such.

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

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: Free version does not support this functionality.
  • Appropriate privileges to create Flows.
  • Working knowledge of SharePoint Online and Microsoft Power Automate (Flow).

1: Create a new flow in Power Automate

The steps to convert a document to PDF/A are given below. The Flow will look as follows:

create new flow power automate

Create a new Flow and use the SharePoint Online trigger ‘When a file is created or modified in a folder’. Fill out the URL for the site collection and select the relevant SharePoint folder from the selection.

convert pdf to pdfa

2: Convert PDF to PDF/A with Power Automate

Insert Muhimbi's ‘Convert document’ action and fill it out as per the screenshot displayed below. Naturally, you will need to substitute the Source file name and Source file content with suitable values.

  • Source file name:x-ms-file-name-encoded’, which is the output of the SharePoint ‘When a file is created or modified in a folder’.
  • Source file content: ‘File Content’, which is the output of the SharePoint ‘When a file is created or modified in a folder’.
  • Output format: PDF
  • Override settings:

create file in power automate

3: Create a file

Insert a ‘Create File’ action to write the converted PDF/a file back to SharePoint Online.

  • File name: ‘Base File name.pdf’ is the output variable of the ‘Convert document’ action.

  • File content: ‘Processed file content’ is the output variable of the ‘Convert document’ action.

    publish the 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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