Though it’s nearly 25 years old, the PDF may be more useful than ever in our increasingly multi-device, cross-platform world. Much of the time you can get by with a free PDF reader to review and comment on these files. But inevitably, particularly in a business setting, you’ll need to edit a PDF file and that usually requires upgrading to a premium PDF editor. Historically, Adobe Acrobat has been the best option, but it has also been the most expensive, often putting it out of reach of individuals and small businesses. That has given rise to a wealth of alternatives with varying features and costs. We looked at six PDF editors to see what they offer and how they stack up against each other.

Updated 8/28/18 to include our review of PDF Complete Office Edition 4.2, which holds its own against popular Acrobat alternatives. See the bottom of the page for a list of all our PDF editor reviews. Best overall PDF editor. Acrobat Pro DC's comprehensive PDF features show why it's still the editor against which all others are judged.

Remains the industry standard for good reason. Its rich combination of creation, editing, reviewing, and security features are what the best alternative options are built on, but we feel Acrobat still does it best. Its recent interface redesign makes it much easier to navigate its robust toolset than the nested menus of yore, and its cloud subscription option puts its advanced features within reach of more individuals and small businesses. (Read our.) Runner-up. Nitro Pro 12 is an excellent PDF editor that will streamline your document workflow.

Bumps its previous version, Nitro Pro 11, for the runner-up spot. Its now full integration with Nitro Cloud—as part of Nitro Productivity Suite—makes collaborating on documents and securing signatures easier than ever.

The ability to perform common editing tasks right in a browser rather than having to toggle over to the desktop program makes document workflows feel simpler and more seamless. Best budget PDF editor. PDF Architect 6 Professional is an affordable business-ready Acrobat alternative that doesn't sacrifice performance for price. This customizable PDF editor comes in several different flavors, each with its own set of “modules,” or tools, so you can purchase only those you need. But even the Professional edition, which has a near complete tool set, only costs $109. You sacrifice little for that affordability, as it includes plenty of review, collaboration, and security features. (Read our.) A word about online PDF editors Why spend a chunk of change on a desktop editor when free online PDF editors abound?

The simple answer is because you get what you pay for. Generally, free online editors will let you add text and comments, merge and split documents, and convert files to and from PDF. With rare exception, however, they won’t let you edit existing text and many have file-size and page-volume restrictions. And a lot of them will watermark your edited document. For these reasons, web PDF editors are best reserved for simple, fast editing jobs. Call in these big dogs for anything more demanding.

What to look for in a PDF editor. Create, convert, and export PDFs: The most fundamental function of a PDF editor is to make PDFs, either from scratch, scanned hard copies, or by converting digital documents. A good PDF editor should be able to transform a variety of file types—from Microsoft Office formats to images to HTML—and do so seamlessly, preserving the original formatting.

It should also include OCR technology to make the PDF text searchable and editable. Likewise, a good PDF editor must be able to export PDFs into other editable formats such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, HTML, or plain text, maintaining the original files hyperlinks, images, and other elements.

Content editing: Another bit of magic that PDF editors unlock is the ability to modify text; insert, resize, and move images; and reorganize pages in the PDF. A good one will perform these tasks as easily as in a text document or slide deck, allowing in-line editing, dragging-and dropping graphics, and adding or removing hyperlinks. Review and annotate: A good PDF editor should also let you or anyone else using it add comments and other annotations to PDF files during review.

It should have tools to mark up both text documents and graphic-heavy files like webpages. Common options include sticky notes, callout boxes, highlighting, freehand drawing tools, and stamps with messages like “approved,” “revised,” and “confidential.”. Security: All businesses deal with documents containing sensitive data. Look for a PDF editor that includes security features that allow access for authorized eyes only. Good options will usually offer several levels of security, including password protection, permissions setting, and content redaction, which “blacks out” selected text and images.

Most PDF editors will also offer one or more ways to electronically sign documents. Mobile support: While deep PDF editing is best done on a desktop, it’s nice to be able to review and annotate files when you’re out and about. While PDFs can typically be reviewed in any PDF reader or editor, regardless of which one they were created in, consider looking for an editor that has a dedicated mobile app, is optimized for mobile devices, or allows cloud access to features through a mobile browser. One of the great things about a PDF is that it can be read and edited in any PDF program regardless of which one it was created in. So beyond the features outlined here, let your personal preferences guide you in making your decision. All PDF reviews If you want to learn more about all of the PDF editors we reviewed, see the list below. We’re kicking off our guide with six PDF editors, but we’ll continue to evaluate more as time goes on—as well as re-evaluate those we’ve already reviewed.

Today, editing a PDF becomes a routine when you are desk-bound to work on files. That’s the reason why PDF Editor is always a hit in the app field. Even for Mac users, there are a wide range of options to edit PDF. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC? There is no doubt that the is first and most powerful Mac PDF Editor.

Almost anything that can be done to a PDF can be done by Acrobat and you’ll pay for the privilege. But here I am willing to talk about why this powerful PDF editor doesn’t turn to be the best pick for a great part of PDF users. First the price: it is quite expensive. An annual subscription costs $179.88 (us $14.99/month), and is also available as a stand-alone product for $449.

Second the usability: In our opinion, Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is not as easy to use, and most of those features has never or rarely put into use for most people. Still, it can work on only one PDF at one time, while we often need to batch process files at the same time. So, what’s the best PDF editor alternative to Acrobat? You may once flock to free web PDF editors like many of us, or turn to, but only to realize that, both web editors and Preview either fall short of our editing expectations or sheerly can not reach our requirements. To edit a PDF on mac smartly and feel right at home during the PDF work, here we pick the 2018 best PDF Editor for your Mac after slogging through dozens of PDF editors. Criteria of Evaluation To be measured up to our top options, we refer to following evaluation criteria to pinpoint the best PDF Editor for Mac 2018: User Interface – As the program is designed to deal with PDF files, which itself is a relatively tricky subject to be processed, we will need a quite clean yet beautiful user interface to be easily understood, so we can direct our attentions and efforts straight forward.

A cluttered and poor interface will, not only distract us, but also quickly hit our patience limit to work intensively on PDF editing. Reading Experience – A fast reading experience will allow users to open and view a multiple-pages PDF file efficiently.

The program should process the file importing sharply, and respond quickly when any action is taken. Besides, PDF format is designed for different platforms and devices, it becomes very critical if it can resize or fit in to look perfectly on different devices. Mark-up and Annotation – PDF offers a abundant of interactive elements to facilitate seamless group collaboration, while mark-up and annotation tools are the key behind this. Editing Capability – Editing is the main task of a PDF editor, it should allow users to edit anything on the PDF page, no matter it is the PDF text, image or media elements. A satisfying PDF editor should be as powerful as possible to edit every single composition of the file. OCR(Optical Character Recognition) – The movement of “Go Paperless” not only builds us environment-friendly office, but also tucks more and more scanned image and PDF into our digital devices. To work on scanned files, OCR feature is necessary and will become indispensable when choosing a PDF editor.

Storing – A great part of PDF users prefer to store their large-size files in the Cloud, for the purpose to save space on devices, also for the purpose to edit and manage PDF files at anytime, anywhere. Allowing users to interact with Cloud service and store files in the Cloud will offer profound convenience for PDF users. Additional features -To suit all the needs to edit a PDF, additional features is absolutely the killer. To redact sensitive information, to fill out forms, to reorder/delete pages, to export PDF to editable Word format, to digitally signWe all know, we are always asking more. Is the Superior Acrobat Alternative Solution To be frank, we’ve never thought that the final pick would go to PDFpen in the first place, but as we tested on different PDF files and read feedbacks from other PDF users online, we came to know PDFpen how beat its rivals. What is PDFpen?

PDFpen from has everything you need to power your productivity with seamless PDF editing. Smile sells single-user licenses for $75 and $125 for the Pro versions. PDFpenPro is as full featured as Acrobat in nearly every respect and PDFpen just a little less so, while Smile offers each at a standalone price that’s reasonable. PDFpen does 99% of what Acrobat boasts in a much easier, intuitive and quicker way.

Let’s have a look! Reading experience PDFpen offers a blazing fast PDF reading experience. PDFpen opened the document in 1.5 seconds. Meanwhile, it took almost 10 seconds to load it with Acrobat.

As you select between PDF pages, all the pages are well displayed with fast speed, even, there is no stop when I switch between different pages. As PDFpen also offers iOS version, I uploaded a file into its iOS version, and the file fit in the device well, I got the same good reading experience as than on my Mac.

Yet, there is a one thing PDFpen upsets me in PDF reading, it doesn’t allow users to open different PDFs at the same time, you are stuck to only one PDF file at one time. Mark-up and annotate important parts Remember the first time you wanted to find out how to change the annotation color in Acrobat — I bet you had a hard time. But let’s take a look at PDFpen. You can see the differences at first glance. The design is clean and intuitive. The lastest version 9 makes it possible to select multiple annotations at once, copy the text, delete them, and show highlights in the Annotations sidebar view. You can also choose to print just annotations, making it easier to review comments separately from the document as another PDF or in print form.

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As you know, not each PDF editor enables users to print out PDFs with notes and comments added. Besides, for those who require a table of contents (TOC) or need to work with one created elsewhere, PDFpenPro allows substantially more advanced TOC options for more sophisticated and less clunky interaction. Manage and reorder pages Microsoft Office Word is always deemed as the best tool to mange file pages. However, in terms of managing pages, PDFpen won’t lose in the game. Like in Microsoft Office, PDFpen allows users to add page numbers, specify positioning and format. Besides these, users can move up and down pages to reorder the file, select pages to delete, insert extra pages into the existing easily.

No matter how many pages in your PDF file, it will be well organized in PDFpen. This really helps when you need to edit several individual and random PDF files at the same time. You just need to open one file, then insert other files. After selecting pages to move up or down for reordering, you will be able to edit the file and save it in desired sequence.

Work on PDF text Text is always the dominant part of a file, so when we talk about editing a PDF, we mainly refer to editing PDF text. PDFpen helps users to work on PDF text in 3 flavors: Copy and paste text: you can copy and paste text with original fonts and formatting retained. In case you want to extract some well-formatting text resources to another file, such a feature just cut your time on re-formatting greatly.

Correct Text: in case there is mistaken PDF text, you can select the text you want to correct, then click “Correct Text” button, an editable text blocks will appear. Add Text: this is quite similar to the case when you want to correct PDF text. You can select the area where you want to add PDF text, then input the texts as needed. Scan & OCR Aside from performing OCR on scanned PDFs or image captures saved on your devices, the PDFpen is also able to scan papers from scanner then do the OCR to make the files as computer-readable documents.

The scanning feature is only activated when your device is bundled with a image capturer or connected to a TWAIN scanner. I scanned a paper document by taking captures from Mac camera, the scanning process is fast. Under OCR process, you are allowed to adjust resolution, color depth, contract, skew and image size, with the aim to enhance OCR accuracy and precision. The Pro version lets you correct the text, too.

Though I got to adjust formatting of several parts and re-typed several words, the OCR results from PDFpen proved to be brilliant. Fill and sign PDF forms Digital signature has used to replace physical signature for a long time, more and more PDF files are authenticated via digital signatures. PDFpen offers AATL or self-signed certificate to sign a documents. It also save your signatures in the library for further use. Though you can only fill in the fields of PDF forms created from other software, PDFpen offers a Pro version for users to create and customize their own PDF forms.

Sync and share PDFpen is both available on MacOS and iOS, which means users can sync the PDF files across all manner of Apple devices. It just becomes much easier if you are seeking a way to seamlessly work on different devices under different situations. By the way, as the best PDF Editor for Mac, PDFpen also collaborates well with Evernote, users can save PDFs directly to Evernote. Either for the intention to save disk space or for the intention to work on the go, we upload PDF files to Cloud for storage.

PDFpen also takes this into consideration, it allows users to store PDF files in iCloud and Dropbox, which makes PDF editing never stop. Additional editing features Still, there are 3 editing features from PDFpen that users should never miss out: Redact personal or sensitive information: no matter it is native PDF text or OCR text, PDFpen is capable of redacting or erase sensitive texts easily Record and playback audio annotations: it is an amazing way to add entertaining and innovative elements to your PDF files. Convert PDF to Word: if you want to convert PDF to editable Word to unlock more editing features, PDFpen allows to. Multiple versions In addition to multiple versions on different operating system (MacOS and iOS), there is PDFpen Pro version offered to suit users’ higher needs on PDF editing on mac. Compared to PDFpen, it adds the features to convert websites to PDF, create and edit forms, export to Excel/PowerPoint/ and PDF/A, etc. Pricing Now, that we’ve got the features covered, let’s talk money. Acrobat DC currently costs $14.99 per month for a subscription or $449 for the full desktop software.

While Smile only asks PDFpen single-user licenses for $75 and $125 for the out of your pocket and it’s jam-packed with all of the necessities. PDFpen is also available via, a $9.99 monthly subscription service. Other Acrobat alternative we considered Awarded as “App of the Year” 2015 in the Mac App Store, PDF Expert($59.99) continues to outperform others today.

As it claims, it is a robust and beautiful PDF editor, helping users to edit, annotate PDF and manage PDF pages on mac, with a Share Sheet build in. I have to say, its neat and elegant interface just make users extremely comfortable to edit PDF within this program. You don’t have to explore the jumble of icons cluttered on the interface, everything you are looking for to edit your PDF, you are going to be navigated to. Speaking of its powerful features, PDF Expert offers extensive tools to edit and annotate your files.


You are given the power to edit PDF text, image, link or other objects, also you can harness its power to highlight, annotate, fill form, sign, etc. Yet, the major disadvantage of PDF Expert lies in its absence of OCR feature. With a growing need to work on scanned PDF files, OCR functionality will be a must adds-on. Personally, I am quite looking forward to getting this OCR feature packed in PDF Expert in its following update. With a cost of $99.95, iSkysoft PDF Editor provides users all-round solutions to work on PDF files. Admittedly, it is a powerful PDF pack to manage PDF files, but the main problem is, it fails to offer a friendly user experience to its users.

Foxit Software started out as one of the earliest competitors for Adobe Acrobat XI. Foxit introduced the PhantomPDF($129.00) line of PDF applications to compete with premium versions of Adobe Acrobat. But it, too much features embedded in the software, causing a much higher learing curves. ABBYY FineReader($199.99) gets the same capabilities from an Adobe Acrobat, and shares many features with PDFpen. But it, too, comes with a higher price tag. The bottom line PDFpen, according to my repeated tests and collected feedbacks from other users, it is faster than Preview and nearly as feature-packed as Adobe Acrobat DC, PDFpen is proof the sequel can be superior to the original in every way.

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If you are looking for a solution that provides similar capabilities as Adobe Acrobat but for a price that you can afford, then it is the time to evaluate as your Adobe Acrobat alternative.