Looking for the best free PDF editor? You’re in the right place.
PDF (Portable Document Format) is one of the most valuable file formats in existence. You can manage everything from professional, high-quality invoices to employee contracts through a PDF. The format is extensively used in various industries, including legal, real-estate, medical, and education.
Compared to other formats, PDF offers the following benefits:
- Preserve format: PDFs display exactly how you lay them out no matter what device or program you’re using to view them.
- Save storage: The PDF file format allows you to compress relatively large file sizes KBs, making it easier to save on storage space.
- Legally binding: The PDF is the only file format that can accommodate e-signatures for a document to be legal and binding.
The downside of PDF is that it doesn’t let you edit text or replace other elements easily. For that, you need a PDF editor. Unfortunately, because Adobe (the original creators of the PDF) still owns certain technologies associated with the format, it isn’t always easy to find tools to edit PDFs.
That’s why we’ve put together this article to help you discover the best free PDF editor software available right now.
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What Is the Best Free PDF Editor?
The following software options include some of the best free online PDF editing tools. We’ve also listed a handful of free PDF editors for Mac and Windows PCs, along with some mobile-ready editors that allow you to amend documents on the go. All of the following editors are either free to use or come with a free trial available.
Best Free Online PDF Editor Tools
SmallPDF is a cloud-based solution that users can access whenever and however they choose. The simple interface makes it quick and easy to start editing without downloading complicated tools onto your tablet or desktop. You can even download a Chrome extension.
Intended to make editing PDFs easy, SmallPDF allows you to add highlights and comments to the PDF document, convert .pdf documents to .doc or .docx, and even merge PDF content. You can also access a handy online signing feature here, which is great if you want an affordable way to manage digital contracts.
- PDF text highlighting and commenting
- PDF merging
- PDF to Word conversions
- JPG and other image files to PDF
- E-Signature for PDFs
- Compressing without losing quality
Pros: Easy to use; accessible on any device; other handy features.
Cons: Limited free usage.
Best for: Speedy PDF editing.
PDFescape is another appealing solution on our list of the best PDF Editor free tools. The system allows you to edit your documents online or on your desktop, depending on your needs. You can also scan documents straight into the application.
Though only the online version of PDFescape is free, you will find many handy capabilities included, such as a form filling system, a password protection function to preserve your online files, and free-hand annotation. Plus, it gives you the option to add clickable URLs to your files.
- Free viewing and editing for PDF files
- Password protection
- Basic PDF forms and form-filling
- Easy annotation for PDF documents
- Online document sharing
Pros: Access from anywhere; password-protect documents; rotate, add, annotate.
Cons: Can only upload documents up to 10MB in size.
Best for: Editing basic invoices and other small PDF files.
Dedicated to making you more productive with your PDFs, Sejda is a state-of-the-art editor with a watermark-free text editing function, the option to white-out areas of the PDF, and so much more.
Sejda also allows users to extract specific pages from PDFs or split their documents by size, text, and pages. There’s a signature tool for legally binding documents and a convenient interface so you can find everything you need in one place.
- Merge and split your PDFs
- Edit and sign documents easily
- Compress documents
- Security components
- Conversion options
Pros: Excellent accessibility, great UI; add images and hyperlinks.
Cons: Editing limited to 50 MB files; accommodates only 3 PDFs/hr.
Best for: Small jobs like when you need to fill in fields on a PDF.
Like many of the best free PDF editor products we’ve looked at so far, PDF Candy is a flexible product that you can access through any browser. There are tons of ways that you can customize and edit your PDFs with this product, including adding password protection or converting your PDFs into other file types.
PDF Candy offers splitting functionality, as well as the ability to crop, resize, and rotate pages. You can interact with various kinds of visual content through this editor and add things like page numbers and header or footer text to make your content more professional.
- Tons of PDF conversion options
- Extract images and text
- Access password protection
- Edit, resize, and rotate your PDFs
Pros: Rearrange pages; extract text and images via OCR; edit metadata.
Cons: Various tools on the same page.
Best for: Editing and extracting text from PDFs.
PDF2Go is a universally accessible solution that lets you edit and convert PDF files through your browser. It comes with handy functions like merging, password protection, and more. Is the PDF file too big? Use the tool’s compression function to reduce file size and aspect ratio of documents easily.
Unlike most PDF editing tools, the PDF2Go software also helps repair PDFs that appear to have been corrupted or damaged by your device. What’s more, if you don’t want to create a new account to sign up, you can log in through your Google profile.
- PDF conversion options
- Full PDF editing with resizing, rotating, and more
- Optimize PDF for web
- Make your PDF searchable
- Repair your PDF
- Passwords protect or unlock PDFs
Pros: Rich functionality; various tools; encrypted uploads.
Cons: Can only upload PDFs up to 50 MB in size.
Best for: Optimizing and repairing PDF documents.
Best Free PDF Editor Software for Desktop
Available: On Mac.
Probably the best free PDF editor for Mac on this list, Apple Preview is a free tool that gives you all the functionality you need inside your MacBook. You can easily markup PDFs, edit images, and add text wherever you choose. Unlike most PDF editors, Apple Preview is actually built into your Mac, with no separate download required.
You can use the system in your Mac device to highlight text, drawing attention to important parts of contracts in seconds. There’s an annotate function, and the ability to add signatures and request signatures from other users.
- E-signing for important documents
- Merge, edit and convert PDFs
- Add notes and annotations with ease
- Include drawings, text, and images
- Edit content within your PDFs
- Share and export in seconds
Pros: Excellent signature capture; various annotation tools.
Cons: Markup tools difficult to locate.
Best for: Basic PDF editing on Mac.
Available: On Windows and Mac.
Created by the Wondershare Company, PDF Element is the best free PDF editor for Windows 10. Created to help you design, edit, and sign PDFs with ease, this solution has all the functionality modern companies need. You can access award-winning software for converting your PDFs and building professional forms.
Digital signing functionality makes it quick and simple to add signatures to documents and contracts. There’s a page manager for finding parts of your content easily. What’s more, you can also merge your documents, split pages, and implement PDF security.
- Edit text, images, links, pages, and backgrounds
- Implement signature areas for contracts
- Merge or Split PDF pages
- Manage and search through pages easily
- Create forms
- OCR support
- Conversion options
- Mark and annotate content
Pros: Change background; add images and links; edit embedded forms.
Cons: The text editor behaves strangely on occasions.
Best for: Filling in forms and adding signatures to PDFs.
Available: On Windows.
Don’t be tricked by AbleWord’s simplistic website. This company offers a fantastic and competent PDF editor that you don’t have to pay anything to use. You can use AbleWord to read all kinds of documents, including DOC and DOCX files. Most importantly, Ableword can also open PDFs, so you can make edits without spending a fortune.
AbleWord is intended to be a very easy-to-use platform that combines word processing with PDF editing. There aren’t a lot of advanced features, but the functionality you do get includes:
- Open and edit PDF documents
- Save documents to PDF
- Open a wide range of file types
- Access spell-checking and insert images
Pros: Simple interface; common formatting abilities; PDF to Word converter.
Cons: Lacks advanced text editing functionality.
Best for: Making minor edits and converting .pdf to .doc or .docx files.
Available: On Mac, Windows, and Linux.
Based on the Open Office environment, LibreOffice is a powerful full office suite designed to deliver excellent productivity. More than just a PDF editor, LibreOffice can help with building everything from flowcharts to diagrams and word documents.
The “Draw” function on LibreOffice makes it quick and easy to access PDFs that you want to edit. You simply zoom into the text you want to change and add new components like images, headings, and various file colors. When you’re ready to save, you’ll just choose to “Export” your project.
- Full office suite of tools
- LibreOffice Draw editing features for PDFs
- Create and manipulate components like images and tables
- Update headings, colors, and more
Pros: Complete productivity suite; edit any text; no watermark.
Cons: Complex for beginners to get used to.
Best for: Editing basic PDFs with no advanced layouts or formatting.
Best PDF Editor Apps for Mobile
Available: On iOS.
PDF Expert is a PDF reader and editor available for iPhone users. The reader comes with a variety of themes and scrolling options to choose from. However, customers can also adjust and enhance their PDFs however they choose with the built-in editing function.
Stunning free-hand annotations allow you to add your flair to documents. You can also highlight sections, add stamps, cross out content, and include annotation. The Annotation summary feature also means you can easily export your notes.
- Lightning-fast reading and editing
- Color-coding for notes
- Highlight and annotate text
- Edit and adjust images within the PDF
- Export notes in seconds
- Page organization
- Password locking
Pros: Tailor-made for mobile; first-class annotation tools.
Cons: Limitations to the types of image files you can convert into PDF.
Best for: Accessing, reading, and annotating PDF documents on the go.
Available: on Android and iOS.
Another reader and editor combo for your smartphone, the Xodo PDF software is easy to work with wherever you are. The crisp and clear interface is great for beginners, making it easy to search through your document and add highlights or annotations as you go.
There’s an ultra-fast PDF viewing engine built-in and an editing function that allows users to directly write on their PDF, change image sizes and even fill in forms or request signatures. You can also sync your content to Google Drive and similar storage facilities.
- Works with a range of Microsoft tools
- Auto-sync documents with cloud storage
- Add e-signatures and requests to docs
- Adjust image size or rotate content
- Highlight and annotate in real-time
Pros: Ultra-fast PDF viewing; note taking on blank PDFs; real-time annotation.
Cons: No password protection; can’t split or merge documents.
Best for: Freelancers looking to edit invoices and contracts.
Summary: The 11 Best Free PDF Editor Tools in 2021
The best free PDF editing tools can take the headaches and confusion out of dealing with PDFs. Whether you’re looking for something simple to help you adjust the sizes of images in your doc, or you need to collect signatures, PDF editors have the features to make your life easy.
In summary, here are 11 of the best free PDF editors for online, desktop, and mobile use:
- Sejda PDF Editor
- PDF Candy
- Apple Preview
- PDF Element
- AbleWord PDF Editor
- PDF Expert
- Xodo PDF Reader & Editor
Which free PDF editor are you going to try first? Do you have a favorite tool that we didn’t include in the list? Let us know in the comments section below.
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