A robust PDF editor is an absolute must for businesses today, but with so many products on the market, it's hard to know which one to choose for your organization. Fortunately, there are several free as well as free trial products that you can take out for a spin before you settle on the best one for your document workflows. The PDF utilities here all have Windows versions, with some supporting macOS and mobile platforms like Android and iOS to deliver a true cross-platform experience.
#1 - PDFelement
If you're looking for a free PDF editor for the latest Windows 10 version, look no further than PDFelement. This robust utility is a workhorse document management suite that will handle large files, batch processes, and advanced functions like forms handling and OCR. It offers the full range of tools your company needs for creating, editing, annotating, converting, securing, optimizing, and sharing documents, with comprehensive options to convert files to and from PDF.
The best part about this software is that the free trial does not limit its basic PDF editing capabilities in any way. All you'll see is a watermark on created, edited, and converted documents, which is fine for internal use. And if you upgrade to a Standard or Pro paid license, the pricing is far lower than the market leader, Adobe Acrobat DC or its Pro version. You can download this application free for Windows 10 32-bit and 64-bit processors, and it even runs on older versions that go back to Windows XP and Vista, if that's what you have.
- Contains 98% of the most-used tools offered by Adobe Acrobat DC and Pro DC.
- No time limit or any editing, creation, or annotating restrictions in the free trial version
- Intuitive design and clean layout has you up and running in minutes whether you're new or experienced
- Advanced tools for security, OCR, batch processes, interactive form creation, and more
- Some restrictions on how many documents or pages you can convert with an unregistered product
- More features of PDFelement, please find this page
- Free for all basic PDF creating, editing, annotations, etc.
- $119 for Pro and $69 for Standard; Subscribe at $79 a year or $9.99 a month for Pro and $59 a year or $6.99 a month for Standard
- Windows, macOS including macOS 10.15 Catalina, Android, iOS
The PDF tool provide a free trial, or you can go to their official page to get an exclusive our readers, up to $60 off discount (only for our readers).
#2 - PDFescape
PDFescape bills itself as a free PDF editor and PDF form filler. The free version is completely online, while the Premium and Ultimate versions offer downloadable desktop applications in addition to the online service. Some of the features of the free version include several PDF editing functions, PDF creation, form-filling capabilities, and the ability to share PDFs.
- Free online version for basic PDF editing tasks
- Consumer-friendly money-back policy if you're not happy with the paid versions
- Limited feature set
- No OCR or advanced PDF capability
- Free version limited to 10MB or 100 pages per document
- Free (Online); $2.99 a month billed annually (Premium); $5.99 a month billed annually (Ultimate)
- Windows only - Windows Vista/XP through Windows 10
#3 - Nitro Pro
This robust and full-featured PDF editor for Windows is as comprehensive as Adobe's core PDF products with extensive cloud integrations. It is available as two components: Nitro Pro desktop and Nitro Cloud. It's less expensive than the Adobe equivalent and offers advanced features for OCR, creating, combining, form-building and filling, annotations, protection, e-Signing, and comparing documents. Batch processes are limited to creating and securing PDFs.
- Sleek interface
- Advanced PDF tools
- Expensive even though it's cheaper than Adobe Acrobat Pro DC
- No extensive batch process options for conversion, OCR, etc.
- No support ticket option for the basic version for small teams under 20 users
- Nitro Pro basic version is $159 per user
- Windows only
#4 - Adobe Acrobat DC
Adobe is undoubtedly the market leader, and its Acrobat DC PDF editor is the most-used solution for document management in the PDF realm. It comes with a full load of features for creating, editing, annotating, protecting, signing, converting, and OCR capabilities. The only problem is that it is prohibitively expensive for budget-constrained users and companies. Besides, the feature set is usually too extensive to be of any practical value to most smaller businesses.
- Fully equipped with features you need - and many that you won't ever use!
- Interface upgrade with the DC version makes it more intuitive
- Convert scanned PDF to an editable version
- Pricey for many individual users and businesses
- Too many features for the average user
- $12.99 per month per user
- Windows and macOS
#5 - Sejda PDF
Sedja PDF primarily offers free and paid online solutions, with an option for a desktop version. The feature list is impressive, and even OCR has now been introduced, albeit as a beta feature. One unique feature of Sedja Web and Desktop is that they offer to unlock PDFs that have editing, copying, and printing restrictions.
- Good feature set with new additions like OCR
- Convenient plans to choose from, including a free-forever plan
- OCR still in beta
- Different modules for different features in the web-based product
- Free web version available
- Paid web version starts at $5 for a week or $7.50 a month
- Windows and Mac
#6 - Kofax Power PDF
Formerly branded as Nuance, Kofax Power PDF is a slick PDF editor for Windows that comes with an editing suite, conversion options, annotation tools, and PDF encryption. The unique feature of this PDF editor is the ability to add voice notes when annotating.
- Voice-based annotations
- Full feature-set for editing and other tasks
- UI can be confusing to a new user
- Not as affordable as some of the other PDF editors in this list
- Starts at $101.88 for Standard
- Windows and Mac (Standard version only)
#7 - Soda PDF
Soda PDF is a Windows utility that also offers a web-based PDF editor for Mac users. The desktop version has all the features of a Pro PDF solution, while the online version is a little more limited. Nonetheless, the web variant does offer some advanced tools like OCR, signing, and security. The interface is quite similar across the web and desktop versions, which makes it easier to switch back and forth if you're using Windows as well as Mac.
- Comprehensive PDF solution for Windows and Mac (online only)
- Reasonably priced for a feature-rich product
- Intuitive interface and UI uniformity across platforms
- OCR is a Pro+ feature
- One-time license doesn't come with software updates
- One-time license is $120 per user - 1 device only
- Annual license costs $60 per user - 2 devices, unlimited device switching
- Windows only for desktop app
- Web version for Mac users
When you pit these 7 free PDF editors against each other, there's one clear winner, and that's PDFelement. That's true for several reasons:
- Comprehensive cross-platform support for desktop and mobile environments
- Lowest price for a full-featured PDF editor with advanced functions like batch processing and scanned PDF to editable PDF with OCR plugin
- Buttery-smooth interface and uniform experience across all platforms
- Powerful editing features in the iOS and Android apps
- Fast batch processes at up to 100 pages a minute - nearly two times faster than other premium PDF editors that offer batch options
- The free version has very few limitations on functionality and no limit on time, unlike other premium PDF editors and converters
- Excellent customer support with 24/7 access
- Available as a one-time license or monthly/annual subscription
- Cloud integration with major platforms for easier collaboration and access
- Strong security standards to protect confidential and sensitive information
- Wide range of conversion options (To PDF and From PDF)
- Highly accurate OCR, which is hard to find in most products
- Only the most advanced features like form data extraction and OCR are absent in the Standard version, making it ideal for nearly any regular PDF task done at your company, including file management, conversion, reviewing, annotations, creation, and more
Although free PDF editors are available in plenty, it is equally true that there are severe limitations on what you can and cannot do, irrespective of whether they're desktop applications or web-based utilities. The problem, though, is that premium software usually comes with a limited free trial period, case in point being Adobe and Nitro. After the trial period, the software is pretty useless even as a PDF reader. PDFelement stands out from the crowd by offering a perpetual free trial version with reasonable restrictions to prevent abuse of the software. That and its many features and superbly crafted UI makes PDFelement one of the best PDF editors of 2020.
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