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Top 6 PDF Editors to Use in 2019 (Updated, 2021)

Top 6 PDF Editors to Use in 2019 (Updated, 2021)

(This article has recently been updated to include a list of the top PDF editors in 2021).


PDF is nearly 25 years old, and it has been more useful than ever in our increasingly multi-device, cross-platform world. Many office documents are required to be in their PDF form, and much of the time, you can get by with a free PDF reader to review and comment on these files.

However, inevitably, particularly in a business setting, you’ll need to edit a PDF file that usually requires upgrading to a premium PDF editor.

Online PDF editors

People might think, “Why spend a chunk of change on a desktop editor when there are online PDF editors free of charge?”

The simple answer is because you get what you pay for with premium versions.

Generally, online free PDF editors will let you add text and comments, merge and split documents, and convert files to and from PDF. However, they won’t let you edit existing text, and many have file-size and page-volume restrictions. And a lot of them will watermark your edited document.

For these reasons, web PDF editors are best reserved for simple, fast editing jobs. For more demanding tasks, it will be worthwhile to get the paid software.

Online PDF Editors

Things to Look for in a PDF Editor

1. Creation, Conversion, Exporting

A PDF editor’s most fundamental function is to make PDFs, either from scratch, scanned hard copies, or by converting digital documents.

A good PDF editor should transform various file types from Microsoft Office formats to images to HTML. It should also do so seamlessly, preserving the original formatting. It should also include OCR technology to make the PDF text searchable and editable.

Likewise, a good PDF editor must export PDFs into other editable formats such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, HTML, or plain text, while maintaining the original files hyperlinks, images, and other elements.


2. Content editing

Another function that a PDF editor should be proficient at is the ability to modify text. You should be able to use the editor to insert, resize, and move images. More usefully, you should be able to reorganize pages in the PDF.

A good one will perform these tasks as easily as in a text document or slide deck, allowing inline editing, dragging-and-dropping graphics, and adding or removing hyperlinks.


3. Review and Annotate

A good PDF editor should also let you add comments and other annotations to PDF files during a review. It should have tools to mark up both text documents and graphic-heavy files like webpages. Common options include sticky notes, callout boxes, highlighting, freehand drawing tools, and stamps with messages like “approved,” “revised,” and “confidential.”


4. Security

All businesses deal with documents containing sensitive data. Look for a PDF editor that includes security features that allow access for authorized eyes only. Good options will usually offer several security levels, including password protection, permissions setting, and content redaction. Most PDF editors will also offer one or more ways to sign documents electronically.


5. Mobile support

While deep PDF editing is best done on a desktop, it’s nice to be able to review and annotate files when you’re out and about. Typically, PDFs can be reviewed in any PDF reader or editor, regardless of which one they were created. Consider looking for an editor with a dedicated mobile app optimized for mobile devices or cloud access to features through a mobile browser.

One of the great things about a PDF is that it can be read and edited in any PDF program regardless of its creation. So beyond the features outlined here, let your personal preferences guide you in making your decision.


(Updated) Best PDF Editors of 2021

For so long, Adobe Acrobat has been the best option in viewing and editing PDFs. At the same time, it has also been the most expensive software, often putting it out of reach of individuals and small businesses.

That has given rise to a wealth of alternatives with varying features and costs. So I looked into several PDF editors that can be as good as Adobe Acrobat. Find out what they offer and how they stack up against each other.


1. Adobe AcrobatAdobe-Acrobat-Standard-2020

Adobe Acrobat Pro remains to be the industry standard in PDF editing. Its rich combination of creation, editing, reviewing, and security features basically made it unbeatable.

The software’s recent interface redesign makes it much easier to navigate its robust toolset than the nested menus of yore. Its cloud subscription option puts its advanced features within reach of more individuals and small businesses.


2. PDFpenPro 11


PDFpenPro is an advanced macOS-only PDF editor. The software version can be purchased at a lower price with lesser editing features but available for iOS and Mac devices.  (The version is available for both the iPhone and Mac).

The PDFpenPro is an excellent Mac-only option for OCRing pdf files. You can change the text in a PDF document, as well as replace images. You can create PDFs, create or edit forms, and create content tables for your PDF documents.

Its OCR tools are very reliable. When you open an existing PDF, the application detects if the document is a scanned image or if it already contains the text. If it’s not the former, the application will look for text on the page.

Even with long documents that are over 400 pages, PDFpenPro handles text recognition and search work seamlessly. That said, it’s not as easy to edit the recognized text as to edit the text in a non-scanned document.


3. JotForm PDF Editor

JotForm PDF Editor
JotForm PDF Editor is the go-to option for businesses that frequently create contracts and generates invoices for payments. It’s customizable and effortless to use if you are looking for a user-friendly tool that creates professional-looking documents. JotForm PDF Editor also features various functional integrations you can synchronize with Google Drive and Dropbox. You can securely transform collected data into polished documents with the JotForm PDF editor’s password protection and archive your submissions.


4. Nitro Pro

Nitro PDF Editor
Nitro Pro 12 is a second good option. It’s now fully integrated with Nitro Cloud. This makes collaborating on documents and securing signatures easier than ever. The ability to perform common editing tasks right in a browser rather than toggle over to the desktop program makes document workflows feel simpler and seamless.


5. PDF Architect Professional

PDF Architect


This customizable PDF editor comes in several different flavors, each with its own set of “modules” or tools, so you can purchase only those you need. PDF Architect Professional edition is just over a hundred dollars, making it the best budget PDF reader on this list. But you get a little more for that affordability, as it includes plenty of reviews, collaboration, and security features.


6. Nuance Power PDF

Nuance Power PDF
The Nuance Power PDF editor for Windows can convert, annotate, edit and add encryption on your PDF documents. This PDF editor also boasts unique features such as voice note recognition technology. This makes it possible to add notes to your PDF files by simply speaking them instead of typing them out.

Bonus: PDF Candy


PDF Candy is our latest choice for the best free PDF editor because it provides something many free alternatives do not offer, and OCR text scanning feature. This web-based PDF editor does not allow you to edit OCR text, but you can upload PDF files and extract text, and generate a text document, RTF file, or Word document in both .doc and .docx formats.

To build or convert PDF files, you can choose from 44 resources. Rearranging pages within a document, inserting watermarks, securing PDF files with passcodes, editing metadata within a PDF file, separating or adding pages to documents, and extracting images are also easy. Actual text editing is quite limited; the trade-off you make to enjoy a free PDF editor is quite feature-rich.

You can download the edited document or upload a new document to work on once you have finished the edits in PDF Candy. After you have finished making changes to them, PDF Candy keeps all your documents in a queue so that you can open them all at once.


Final Words

The progress of documentation technology is very influential in increasing the ease of doing business. Like I mentioned earlier, PDF is one of the most popular business document formats. PDF editors are essential not just for office workers and businesses but also for students and other enthusiasts who regularly handle and share many documents. There are many PDF editing software available, and they are all easy to access. Unfortunately, only a few of them are truly qualified to be called “good” editors.

Especially in this new normal economy where most businesses and industries are currently operating remotely to varying degrees, file sharing needs to be efficient and safe. Ensure you are equipped with the best business tools that help you operate remotely and boost your business efficiently.

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