If you work with documents in an office, there’s a good chance you deal with PDFs. The ubiquitous file format is easy to manage, unless you have to edit it. That’s when you need a PDF editor.
You know this to be the case if the COVID-19 pandemic has you working from home, or you’ve been running a home-based business. You may not have access to corporate tools and licenses, so apps and services that come without a price to pay are always nice to find.
Adobe Acrobat Pro is the premier option, except it doesn’t come free. Not to mention Adobe created the PDF format and charges for editing features associated with it. If you deal with boatloads of PDF files, it may be worth it to go with something like Acrobat. If you’re not, then this list has some of the free standouts you should consider.
This could be an important step before even getting to the PDF stage. Programs like Microsoft Word already have the option to save as a PDF, but if you need to convert something to that format, you can try Online-Convert first.
For starters, Sejda works well because it’s browser-based rather than an app you download and install. You can use it with any of the major browsers on a Windows PC, Mac or Linux. However, there is a desktop version if you prefer to go that route. One difference between them is that uploaded files only last for two hours in the browser version, whereas there’s no limit on the desktop one because they’re on your computer’s hard drive.
What’s cool about it is you can edit existing text without messing with the rest of the PDF file. You can add or edit hyperlinks and even play around with images. It’s pretty granular when you start to learn the tools it offers. Add comments or sign a document with relative ease, and much more.
There is a learning curve to it, so it’s going to take some practice and navigating to understand it. And when you don’t pay a dime for it, you can at least give it a shot.
You can start off converting files on PDF Candy before anything else. There are dozens of choices available, but once you’re in with a PDF file, you get to the nitty-gritty. To be clear, its strength isn’t in text-editing, which is unremarkable by any other standard. It makes up for that in other respects.
The main page gives you the clues to the feature set. Rearrange or split pages. Extract images you need from the file. Edit metadata or put in a header or footer. Add a watermark or password to the file.
While entirely browser-based, you do get OCR (optical character recognition), so that it could pull identifiable text out of the PDF and put it in a text or Word document. You can’t keep your edited files there for too long, but you can keep them handy until you’ve finished however many you’re working on, and then download them all together.
When you don’t need everything, and simpler tools and processes work for you, there’s PDFEscape. You can pay to go up a tier, but the free version is enough for modest needs. So long as your file is 10MB or less, you’re good to go. They also impose a 100-page limit in case your file is that long.
You can annotate with sticky notes, or white out text wherever you want. If the file has existing text form fields, you just type into those boxes and that’s it. Add images and place them wherever you like, and sign documents. You won’t be able to extract text, or even edit what’s there without whiting it out first. It gives you a barebones font list, so you may not always be able to match what was originally there. If you need to make bigger edits, this may not be the best option.
Still, it’s undoubtedly convenient for what it does, especially if you’re mainly just filling out invoices or signing forms. It’s easy to save edited files, and even encrypt them with a password for extra protection.
This one only works on Windows PCs, and you will have to download and install it on your computer. That’s good if you want to be able to work on PDFs offline — and you don’t need all the bells and whistles.
The user-friendly interface shortens the learning curve, so you will find your way around pretty quickly. One thing to note, however: AbleWord is just as much about .DOC and .DOCx files, including an option to automatically open them in this app. If you use Microsoft Word (or something else) for word processing, I recommend not selecting that. Otherwise, all documents with that extension will open here.
You can convert a PDF to a Word file for easy text editing. Even remove or add images and headers or footers. The spellcheck doesn’t work automatically, so beware of any grammatical mistakes along the way.
To keep things really simple, how about a PDF editor already pre-installed on your Mac? That’s right, Preview isn’t just about viewing documents, you can also tinker a little with them, too. You don’t get extensive tools, but look closely and you’ll find some goodies in there.
For example, go to Tools>Annotate and you will see a bunch of options there, like underlining or striking through text, and adding notes or speech bubbles. You can also add your own text, including boxes as fields, lining them up in accordance with info you have to fill out. Delete pages from a multi-page file, rotate them, or add pages to an existing document. There is a way to work on images as well, since you can save them as JPEGs or TIFFs. So far, there’s no way to convert a file into a Word document, so you’re better off using one of the others on this list for that.
Preview is at its best when you stick to the basics. Add a signature, check off boxes, make notes, delete a page — stuff like that. It doesn’t offer intricate editing capabilities, and that will be fine if you don’t need them.