How to Convert AZW4 to a Perfect PDF

What is AZW4 file? It is a format of Kindle books and it’s not that common compared to Mobi, AZW or AZW3. It is specifically for textbooks and only supported by Kindle for PC/Mac software. There are rumors saying it is going to be supported by Kindle Fire tablets in the future.

From the fact above we can easily figure out the shortage of AZW4 file: the narrow reading apps supporting.

And here I reveal another fact:  every single AZW4 book contains a complete PDF file inside, or we can say, it is actually a PDF file with a shell called AZW4.

I guess some of you readers have tried using some software like Calibre to convert AZW4 to EPUB or PDF, and the output layout is totally messed up. That makes sense because AZW4 books are always textbooks, they contain lots of images, tables and complex patterns, all of these elements are difficult to keep the original layout when converting to another format.

Can we just rip off the shell and extract the PDF inside AZW4? The answer is a big YES and this is why I write this post.

Tools We Need to Convert AZW4 to PDF

  • Calibre – Download
  • Calibre plugin: Kindle Unpack

Install Calibre and enter the plugin list to find “Kindle Unpack” plugin.

find kindle unpack plugin

As the image above instructs, click “Preferences” and choose “Get plugins to enhance calibre”, then search “unpack” in the list you will get the only plugin called “KindleUnpack – The Plugin”. Finally, click “Install”.

After the installation finishes, you will need to restart Calibre.

By seeing the “KindleUnpack” button in Calibre’s top navigation bar, the plugin is installed perfectly.

kindle unpack installed

Add AZW4 Books into Calibre and Extract PDF from AZW4

As usual, to make any change on Kindle books, like converting format, printing some pages, reading on other apps, we all need to remove the DRM at first.

Clicking the link above the read a super detailed guide post, the following steps regard your AZW4 book as DRM-free by default.

Update on 2017.3.14

If you fail to remove DRM from AZW4 files with the guide link above, please try to install this modified DeDRM plugin. This plugin is modified to deal with AZW4 books. If you’ve already installed the original DeDRM plugin, please uninstall it at first, then install the modified one.

Now the DRM-free AZW4 book is already in your Calibre library, click on the item then click “KindleUnpack” button in the top navigation bar. Choose “AZW4” –> “Extract PDF…”

convert azw4 to pdf

As a result, you will see “PDF” displaying in “Formats” besides “AZW4” under the book cover.

“Click to open” to open the folder where saves the PDF and check the extracted file.

azw4 vs pdf

Left side is the original AZW4 file, read with Kindle for PC.

The right side is the extracted PDF file, read with Foxit PDF reader.

They look exactly the same. It is a perfect PDF converted(extracted) from AZW4, what’s more, the method is free and easy.

The paid software which guarantees a positive result


If you have trouble in installing the Calibre plugin and tired of searching for the solution on the internet, you can try this paid software. Their customer support staff will help you convert AZW4 books to PDF for sure, or they will refund your money.

A one-year license is about $20.

If want more information, please visit their official website.

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  • choid

    I downloaded all the plugins but when I go on kindeunpack and then azw4, theres no option that says convert to pdf

    • Admin

      Did you remove the AZW4 book’s DRM at first?

  • Rik Haines

    Unable to reach the plugins index page.

    • Admin

      There is no result when you search “unpack” in Calibre’s plugins library?

      • Rik Haines

        I get an error:

        calibre, version 2.49.0
        ERROR: Update Check Failed: Unable to reach the plugin index page.

        then it shows up completely blank. When I try to search, I get another error:

        calibre, version 2.49.0
        ERROR: Unhandled exception: AttributeError:’PluginUpdaterDialog’ object has no attribute ‘proxy_model’

        calibre 2.49 [64bit] isfrozen: True is64bit: True
        Windows-8-6.2.9200 Windows (’64bit’, ‘WindowsPE’)
        (‘Windows’, ‘8’, ‘6.2.9200’)
        Python 2.7.9
        Windows: (‘8’, ‘6.2.9200’, ”, ‘Multiprocessor Free’)
        Successfully initialized third party plugins: Kindle and Mobipocket DeDRM
        Traceback (most recent call last):
        File “”, line 633, in _filter_name_lineedit_changed
        AttributeError: ‘PluginUpdaterDialog’ object has no attribute ‘proxy_model’

        I added Calibre to my firewall exceptions, and turned off antivirus. Does the same for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. I ended up having to manually add the unpack plugin.

        • Admin

          So manually add plugin solve this issue? As a freeware, Calibre sometimes can be unstable.

  • luckycat10

    I have version calibre 2.49 and there is no icon of Kindle Unpack. How can I access it and then convert?

    • Admin

      You need to install the plugin at first.

  • seph

    i have installed it. now, the icon doesn’t say extract to pdf it only says kf8 to epub

    • Admin

      Is it an AZW4 book?

      • seph

        no, its AZW3. can you help?

        • Admin

          If it’s AZW3, then you needn’t to extract it, just convert it to EPUB or PDF, the output quality is nice.

  • WinterWhiteLace

    Thank you SO MUCH for this information. I followed the instructions and it all worked perfectly.

    • Admin

      Glad to hear that. It would be nice if you can share this post on your social network, it would help me a lot.

  • whats the difference between azw and azw4?

    • dhusu

      AZW is the earliest form of all kindle formats

  • Bev Tellin

    This was super extra very useful! Thank you!

  • Moana

    I keep trying to load the modified DRM but it says it is missing a top level _init_:py file. what do i do?

    • Sid

      Your Calibre’s version?

      • David

        what version should we use? cus im having same trouble

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