The best PDF editors

Edit, sign, append, and save with 12 of the best PDF editors

PDFs are a common file type, one that’s popular among businesses and individuals who are attempting to go green and save on paper. PDFs essentially cost nothing to produce and assure that documents will appear the same to anyone, anytime and anywhere. PDFs are also interactive, if desired, and can be partially or completely edited by peers.

As more people have switched to using PDFs for official paperwork, the desire to edit and create them keeps growing. That means having access to the best PDF editors and readers is as crucial as printers used to be. This will allow you to edit text, make annotations, add images, convert PDF files to Microsoft Word, and export files to epub format with ease.

However, like anything available online, the number of choices is confounding. Lucky for you, we’ve taken the time to find some of the best PDF editors in existence, based on what you need most!

Our Pick 

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC ($15 per month)

best pdf editors adobe acrobat properties

We can’t leave out the company that introduced the PDF more than 20 years ago. Adobe’s Acrobat Pro DC is the industry standard when it comes to editing PDF files, one that combines the hallmarks of other programs on our list into one, unified piece of software. It’s also one of the few premium programs available for both Windows and MacOS, along with one of several on the market that boasts dedicated mobile functionality and the ability to convert PDF files into multiple HTML pages in addition to the standard Word, Excel, and PowerPoint document.

The software instantly converts and saves scanned documents to PDF, and even possesses the ability to merge multiple documents, spreadsheets, webpages, and the like into a single PDF that’s easy to share on multiple devices. Adobe also offers cloud-based storage and document access through acrobat.com, along with password protection and the ability to redact private information.

Available for: Windows and MacOS

Buy it now from:

Adobe

Simplest editor for fast changes

Microsoft Word ($130)

best pdf editors microsoft word2

In the past, versions of Microsoft Word have been limited to saving a doc in or out of the PDF format, and that was about it. The more recent 2013 and 2016 versions, however, allow you to open a PDF and then make specific edits to the piece as a Word document. When finished, you simply save it as a PDF again.

It’s a simple tool, and formatting doesn’t always line up correctly based on the PDF, but it’s an excellent alternative if you need to dip into a PDF fast for a bit of basic editing or text changes. Plus, it’s a very easy method for employees and students to use without having to learn a new tool.

Available for: Windows, MacOS

Buy it now from:

Microsoft

Best Adobe Acrobat alternative

PDF Architect 5 ($60+)

German company pdfforge offers a unique purchasing option when it comes to PDF-editing software. PDF Architect is a modular program that’s available as a free download, or as part of three separate packages (Standard, Pro, and Pro+OCR). Each package includes a set of modules for the program, which dictates the editing power of the program. These modules — which range from Edit and Convert to Sign & Secure — are available for individual purchase, too, just in case you only need a select number of editing tools and don’t want to break the bank.

Even the Pro+OCR package is available at a reasonable price, and the full suite of editing tools makes up one of the most complete, inclusive PDF editors out there. PDF Architect 4, the notable followup to pdfforge’s flagship product, PDF Creator, is tailored to fit the needs of any consumer, whether you need the power of optical character recognition or just the ability to convert a file from PDF to HTML.

Available for: Windows

Buy it now from:

pdfforge

Most secure PDF editor

iSkysoft PDF Editor ($100+)

iSkysoft evens the playing field somewhat by providing a streamlined, feature-laden PDF editor for Mac users as well as Windows devotees. The standard version for MacOS allows you to easily convert PDF files to Word, and comes with a score of basic editing tools that allow you to treat any PDF as if it were a word processor file. Users can annotate PDFs quickly, and edit the layout of any document by adding, removing, or flipping pages. Standard users can also fill out PDF forms directly on their computer, without any printing or scanning.

The real power of iSkysoft, however, comes with the Pro package. For a reasonable fee, you can password protect PDF files, convert them to a number of different formats, and edit PDFs using OCR technology, thus ensuring greater accuracy. The Pro and Windows versions also allow users to add stamps and signatures, and OCR is supported in more than 20 languages. However, keep in mind that the Windows version requires an additional add-on if you’re looking for OCR support.

Available for: Windows and MacOS

Buy it now:

Windows MacOS

Best free PDF editor

Sejda PDF Editor

Sejda

Sejda is a web app designed for speedy PDF work, and it does that very well. This isn’t a fancy program — it’s very simple, focusing on fast PDF signatures, and offers only basic text editing for the files you upload. But that’s also why we like.

It provides very clear instructions, it’s hard to mess anything up, and it’s quick. If your boss or coworker doesn’t really understand technology or have the patience to download new apps — but you still need their signature on random PDFs — this is one of the best options available. There are also mobile download options available for Android and iOS.

Available for: Web app, Android, iOS

Download it now from:

Sejd 

Best web app

PDFescape

PDFescape

PDFescape is a web app accessible through your favorite browser. There’s no lengthy installation process, and users can access the editor using any operating system connected to the internet. The service is currently compatible with Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera browsers — and you can access the web version here.

Once you open a PDF document within the interface, you can quickly add text, white out previous content, add images, and digitally sign documents wherever you are. Users can also rotate and zoom in on the documents to achieve their desired viewing angle, while utilizing a slew of common support tools. It packs a capable reader and form designer, along with various annotation tools and the ability to auto fill forms. Needless to say, it’s a multi-faceted application and takes up little memory.

There’s also a desktop version that provides the same functionality without requiring an internet connection. While the web version is free, the desktop version requires a minimum of $3 a month after a 14-day trial.

Available for: Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera

Download it now from:

PDFescape