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 a 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 better PDF editors in existence, whether you’re looking for a premium piece of software or a free alternative.

The best premium PDF editors

It may seem silly to include premium PDF editors, especially when there’s so much free software available at your fingertips. It’s a valid point, but most freemium alternatives don’t boast built-in merging, advanced annotation options, and an expanded font selection, among other useful tools. The prices may seem steep at first glance, but functionality of the software clearly outweighs the cost, at least if you’re an avid PDF user.

Foxit PhantomPDF 8 PDF Editor ($110+, $60 for Education version)

Foxit PhantomPDF 8 PDF Editor is a well-rounded tool that combines easy paragraph editing, a built-in spell checker, and the ability to drag and drop photos to create albums — all within a basic, straightforward interface. It’s the most affordable premium offering in our roundup, but it still allows you to convert webpages to PDFs, generate PDFs from CAD files, work collaboratively, and access advanced options for tracking document changes and annotations using colored text.

Moreover, the program touts the innate ability to merge multiple PDF files into a single, fluid document. Users can even right-click and create a new document from directly within the resulting drop-down menu, rendering the task a breeze no matter your location within the interface. Foxit Phantom PDF Editor is a simple and intuitive standout — and one that offers a 14-day trial for those still hesitant to pull the trigger. PhantomPDF 8 is available in Standard, Business, and Education editions.

Available for: Windows

Buy it now from:

Foxit

Nitro Pro 11 ($160)

Nitro Pro 10

Whether intended for personal or professional use, Nitro Pro 10 offers packages tailored toward various workloads. The software’s flexibility is undeniable, and allows users to convert PDF files to Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint formats (and vice versa). It also provides a suite of editing tools for creating and editing scanned documents from your local printer. Users can even convert emails and their accompanying attachments directly to PDF, as well as preview and merge PDF documents into a single file.

When a PDF requires a digital signature, the software supplies tools for sharing and editing documents using any web browser, even if the other party doesn’t possess Nitro Pro 10. The interface is straightforward and easy to navigate, much akin to Microsoft Office, and Nitro offers a two-week trial for those looking to try out the program before committing. It’s one of the pricier programs on our list at $160, but that’s fitting — it’s also one of the most comprehensive.

Available for: Windows

Buy it now from:

Nitro

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

Nuance Power PDF 2.0 ($90+)

Nuance’s PDF editor is an outlier in many ways, albeit a phenomenal one. The software’s compatibility is outstanding, with document access available through various cloud services such as Google Drive and OneDrive, and the ability to create interactive PDFs in nearly any Windows application. The program also allows for voice-controlled note taking, side-by-side document comparisons, and advanced search functions that let you locate a host of specified content, such as a phone number and email address housed within a document.

Power PDF 2.0 also offers real-time collaboration using multi-user editing, and users can easily convert PDF files to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Corel. The latest version of Power PDF 2.0 even uses a Microsoft Office-like interface that’s relatively easy to navigate. Nuance also touts the ability to auto fill forms and add password protection to specified files, adding a level of privacy and security anyone can appreciate.

Power PDF comes in two versions, Standard and Advanced, with the latter adding in redaction, Bates stamping, and other features intended primarily for organizations.

Available for: Windows

Buy it now from:

Nuance

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

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC ($15 per month)

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

Soda PDF ($48+ annually)

Soda PDF

Soda PDF is a great app, but it has a curious split between free and paid versions, as well as a web app you can use for quick projects. We prefer the paid version, which includes a ton of extra features like editing, annotation, collaboration, encryption, e-signing, character recognition, and basically everything that you need in a PDF editor.

It works across mobile and desktop devices, and the design is pleasantly intuitive. This software makes a good fit for small businesses or at-home workers who deal with a lot of PDFs.

Available for: Web app or download for all current OS

Download it now from:

Soda PDF

PDFelement ($70+)

Wondershare-PDF-Editor-Pro_1

PDFelement is robust beginning-to-end solution that’s particularly sell-suited for small businesses and significant projects like converting hard copies into PDF files. You can use the software to create PDF directly from scans, add annotations, and search for/edit text throughout the PDF file. If you are working on a conversion project to go paperless or annotate and update a lot of PDF files, take a closer look at this download.

Available for: Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android

Download it now from:

Wondershare

1 of 2