If you need to browse or even edit a PDF file, these tools are your best friends. […]
Although the PDF format is almost 25 years old, it can be more useful than ever in our increasingly cross-device and cross-platform world. In most cases, a free PDF reader is sufficient to check and comment on these files. But especially in the business environment, you can’t avoid editing a PDF file, and this usually requires an upgrade to a powerful PDF editor.
In the past, Adobe Acrobat was the best option, but also the most expensive, so it was often unaffordable for individuals and small businesses. Therefore, there are now a large number of alternatives with different functions and costs. We looked at several leading PDF editors to see what they offer and how they compare to each other.
We also picked out the best free PDF editor, because sometimes you just need the basics or a program that allows you to quickly and easily complete a task.
Acrobat Pro DC – Overall best
Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is still the industry standard for a good reason. Its rich combination of creation, editing, review and security features are the basis for the best alternative options, but we think that Acrobat still does it best.
The recently redesigned user interface makes it easier to navigate through the robust tools compared to the nested menus of yesteryear, and the cloud subscription option makes the advanced features accessible to more individuals and small businesses.
Nitro Pro 12 – Close to second place
Nitro Pro 12 displaces its previous version, Nitro Pro 11, in second place. The now complete integration with Nitro Cloud – as part of the Nitro Productivity Suite – makes collaboration on documents and securing signatures easier than ever.
The ability to perform common editing tasks directly in a browser instead of having to switch to the desktop program makes document workflows easier and more seamless than ever before.
PDF Complete Office Edition 4.2 – Best Budget Option
PDF Complete has more to offer than just a low price. It is a very powerful PDF editor based on Adobe’s Acrobat Pro DC.
With support for a wide range of file types and formats, as well as the full range of editing tools and features, your PDF needs are covered.
PDF Complete also offers a wealth of assistance, from the learning center with instructive videos to the searchable knowledge database. An excellent price-performance ratio!
PDF Candy – Best Free Option
PDF Candy is one of the few free PDF editors that offers many of the features that you usually have to pay for. We are talking about scanning, several file conversion options and OCR functions.
While the free version provides access to the rich toolset of the paid version, you can only edit one PDF task per hour. For unlimited access, you will have to shell out 6 euros per month.
Apple Preview PDF Editor – Best Free Option for Mac users
Mac users do not need to go beyond macOS for PDF editing, because a complete set of PDF editing tools is already available to them in Apple Preview.
It is capable of meeting most private and business PDF editing needs, including encryption, password protection and permissions for files.
A Comment on Online PDF Editors
Why spend a lot of money on a desktop editor when there are free online PDF editors? The simple answer is that you get what you pay for. As a rule, free online editors allow you to add text and comments, merge and split documents, convert files to and from PDF.
However, with a few exceptions, you can revise existing text, and many have restrictions on file size and page volume. Also, many of them watermark your edited document.
For these reasons, web PDF editors are best suited for simple, fast editing tasks. For more demanding tasks, you should contact the professional tools.
What you should consider when using a PDF Editor
- Create, convert and export PDFs: The most basic function of a PDF editor is to create PDFs, either from scratch, from scanned copies, or by converting digital documents. A good PDF editor should be able to convert a variety of file types – from Microsoft Office formats to images to HTML – seamlessly and while maintaining the original formatting. In addition, it should have OCR technology so that the PDF text is searchable and editable. Similarly, a good PDF editor must be able to export PDFs to other editable formats, such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, HTML or plain text, preserving hyperlinks, images and other elements of the original files.
- Editing content: Another property of PDF editors is the ability to change text, insert images, resize and move them, as well as reorder pages in the PDF file. A good PDF editor handles these tasks as easily as a text document or a slide document and allows inline editing, dragging and dropping graphics, and adding or removing hyperlinks.
- Review and comment: A good PDF editor should allow you or other users to add comments and other annotations to PDF files during the review. He should have tools that can be used to mark both text documents and graphic-heavy files, such as web pages. Common options include sticky notes, callout boxes, highlighting, freehand drawing tools, and stamps with messages such as approved, revised, and confidential.
- Security: All companies deal with documents that contain sensitive data. Look for a PDF editor with security features that allow access only to authorized people. Good options usually provide several levels of security, including password protection, permission settings and blackening of selected texts and images. Most PDF editors also offer one or more ways to sign documents electronically.
- Mobile Support: Even though the thorough editing of PDF documents is best done on the desktop, it is nice to be able to review and annotate files on the go. Although PDFs can usually be checked in any PDF reader or editor, regardless of the program in which they were created, you should look for an editor that has a special app for mobile devices, is optimized for mobile devices, or provides access to cloud functions via a mobile browser.
One of the great advantages of PDF files is that they can be read and edited in any PDF program, regardless of which program they were created in.
So, when making your decision, be guided by the features listed here, as well as your personal preferences.
*Michael Ansaldo is an experienced technology journalist for consumers and small businesses. He contributes regularly to TechHive and writes the Max Productivity column for PCWorld.