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The best PDF editors for 2021

10 months ago 51

The PDF file format has become a popular option, thanks to its relatively small size. It’s also great for preserving the quality and formatting of a document.

Adobe Acrobat is perhaps the most well-known PDF editor, but there are other options to consider. Having access to a PDF editor gives you the possibility of editing texts, adding images, filling out forms, and converting your PDF files to other formats. A PDF editor is a useful tool if you work with this format regularly.

Our guide to the best PDF editors will help you choose the right editor for your needs.

The best PDF editors at a glance

Our pick: Adobe Acrobat Pro DC Simplest editor: Microsoft Word Best Adobe Acrobat alternative: PDF Architect 7 Most secure PDF editor: iSkysoft PDF Editor Best free PDF editor: Sejda PDF Editor Best web app: PDFescape

Our pick

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Adobe first introduced the PDF format 20 years ago, and today, Acrobat Pro DC is the industry standard for editing PDF files, one that combines the hallmarks of the other programs on our list into a unified piece of software. It’s also one of the few premium programs available for both Windows and MacOS. It boasts dedicated mobile functionality and the ability to convert PDF files into multiple HTML pages, besides the standard Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents.

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


Simplest editor

Microsoft Word

In the past, versions of Microsoft Word were limited to saving a document in or out of the PDF format, and that was about it. However, the more recent 2013, 2016, and 2019 versions allow you to open a PDF and then make specific edits to the piece as a Word document. When finished, you 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 straightforward method for employees and students to use without learning a new tool.


Best Adobe Acrobat alternative

PDF Architect 7 

German company Pdfforge offers a unique purchasing option for PDF editing software. PDF Architect is a modular program 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 its editing power. These modules — which range from Edit and Convert to Sign & Secure — are available for individual purchase, too, if 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. The latest version of PDF Architect is PDF Architect 7, and premium subscriptions to it include features such as the ability to insert pages and hyperlinks (Standard), 256-bit encryption (Professional), and the ability to scan documents and convert them to editable PDFs (Pro + OCR). There is also a (limited) free version of PDF Architect 7.


Most secure PDF editor

iSkysoft PDF Editor

iSkysoft evens the playing field by providing a streamlined, feature-laden PDF editor for Mac users and Windows devotees. The standard version for MacOS allows easy conversion of PDF files into Word documents 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 any document’s layout by adding, removing, or flipping pages. Standard users can also fill out PDF forms directly on their computer, with no printing or scanning.

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

If you want to try out iSkysoft’s editor before you buy or have a couple of one-off edits to make, there is a free trial you can take advantage of, too.

Windows MacOS

Best free PDF editor

Sejda PDF Editor


Sejda is a web app designed for speedy PDF work, and it does that very well. It’s straightforward, focusing on fast PDF signatures and only basic text editing for the files you upload. But that’s also why we like it.

It provides explicit instructions, it’s hard to mess anything up, and it’s quick. If your boss or coworker doesn’t really understand how to use 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.


Best web app



PDFescape is a web app, so it’s accessible through your favorite browser. There’s no lengthy installation process to slow down your work. Users can access the editor using any operating system, as long as they can connect to the internet. PDFescape’s service is currently compatible with Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera browsers. Check out the web version here.

First, pull up a PDF document in the interface. From here, it’s easy to add text and images and to white out old content. You can use handy features like zoom and rotate to see small or awkwardly angled text better. You can also create digital signatures and use a flurry of standard tools, such as a reader and form designer and several annotation features.

There’s also a desktop version with identical features available. It costs $3 each month, but you can test it out with a two-week free trial. Luckily, you won’t need an internet connection to use it, and $3 a month isn’t too bad.

Editing PDFs doesn’t have to be a miserable task. There’s an array of software available that will make editing easy and even fun.


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