PDFs are a great way of storing and sharing documents as the format and layout will be constant no matter what device you view it on. PDF is universal file format and thus can be read on any device using a simple PDF reader, however, editing a PDF is something that is a bit more tricky and requires some additional software since originally PDFs were not created for editing. Finding the right tools to edit your PDFs is not easy, and that is why we have decided to present you the 9 best free PDF editors below.
APowerPDF is APowersoft’s very own full-featured PDF editor with which you can easily modify the content of your PDF file. Just like you would do it in a Word document, you can insert text and images into your PDF with this easy to use, well-designed piece of software. APowerPDF editor also lets you fully customize the pages of your PDF by allowing you to merge, split, delete and rearrange the pages. If you want to make annotations on your PDF, with this program this is also possible. Highlight, add notes and underline any part of your document. With ApowerPDF’s built-in OCR technology, you will be able to edit scanned PDFs as well as the OCR will analyze and turn the content of your PDF into editable text. ApowerPDF also lets you increase the security of your PDFs by adding advanced protection to them.
Refer to the guidelines below to get more information about using the software:
Step1 Installing the program
Get a copy of the software from APowerPDF’s official website. On the homepage click “Download Desktop”.
Step2 Select the PDF to be edited
After you have installed the program successfully, launch the application. Click the “File” tab on the navigation menu and click “Open” on the drop-down menu and choose the right document from your directory.
Click the “Commen” tab to annotate your document. You can choose from various styles to enhance your document. You can also add shapes of different colors and sizes by clicking “Drawing Markups”.
Step4 Saving your document
When you are finished with the editing, click “File”, then choose “Save As” and save it in the desired folder.
- Full-featured editing environment
- Add watermarks
- OCR technology to turn scanned images into editable PDFs
- Simple interface
- For its price it offers limited functions
PDFescape has essentially two versions, one being an online tool, the other being an offline program for editing PDFs. The free online version features viewing and editing options. You can insert text, images or add free-hand annotations to your document. The offline version’s interface might be familiar from Microsoft Office’s interface and similarly to the online version, it will provide you with a number of useful editing functions, but only if you have a subscription. Otherwise, only viewing and merging of documents will be available to you. PDFescape is a great tool for editing your PDFs if you like versatility, but only if you have some money to spend on the full-featured version as only with this will you be able to get access to a number of premium features such as adding a watermark, compressing PDF file sizes, convert to other output formats and many more.
The step-by-step guide below will help you with getting started:
Step1 Downloading and installingDownload PDFescape’s desktop version from its official website and simply install it using its setup wizard.
Step2 Import your documentAfter launching the program, on the navigation bar across the top click “File” and then “Open”. Locate the document you wish to edit.
Step3 EditingStart the editing process by clicking the “Home” tab and choosing the “Edit” option. This will present you with a number of editing tools. Insert text, images, shapes, links, or annotations.
- Available both online and offline
- User interface easy to get used to
- Rich editing features
- The offline version requires a subscription to use all its features
- Online version limited to 10MB or 100 pages
PDFsam, as you might have guessed from the name, the word “sam” stands for split and merge. And in actual fact, this free and simple, open source software cannot do much more. The program is available for Windows, Mac and Linux as well. After downloading and installing PDFsam, you will be offered a free trial of the premium version with which you will get access to PDFsam’s premium editing tools, however even with this version you will not be able to edit the actual content of your PDF files. To do this, you will need an external software to first convert your PDF to some editable file format. However, PDFsam is incredible good at what its designed to do: splitting and merging. There are 3 different way by which you can split your documents; by bookmarking, by page numbers or by predetermined chunks.
Follow the guidelines below to learn how to use PDFSam:
Step1 Downloading and installing the program
PDFSam can be downloaded for free from PDFSam’s official website. The Windows, Mac and Linux versions are all available. After downloading the software, install it using the setup manager.
Step2 Select PDFs to be merged
Using the selection table provided, choose the PDF files you wish to merge. You can add PDFs by clicking the “Add” button. Then, arrange them in the order you want them to be merged.
In the merge settings you can set important options regarding the merging process. You can manage bookmarking, table of contents, page numbering and many more.
Step4 Finishing steps
Once everything is set according to your needs, simply hit “Run” to start the merging process. The progress bar will show when the merging is finished.
- Available for various operating systems
- Source code can be viewed and edited by anyone
- Actual PDF content cannot be edited
- Free version time limited
Smallpdf is an online PDF editor for Windows, Mac and Linux with a clear-cut, simplified interface. The fact that it is an online converter means that you will be able to edit your PDFs from virtually anywhere and no additional pieces of software will be downloaded, all you need is a decent internet connection. The interface features an easy to use drag and drop upload system that also supports the upload of files from Dropbox and Google Drive, so if you like to store your files in the cloud, with SmallPDF you will have a much easier job. The editing environment does not let you make editing of the actual content of your PDF possible, but Smallpdf does feature a built-in PDF to Word converter which makes editing of the content easy. Smallpdf is absolutely secure and safe to use, and the privacy of your documents is guaranteed.
Below you can find a quick guide on how to use the tool:
Step1 Opening the PDF editor
Open Smallpdf.com and from the set of available tools listed select the PDF editor from the bottom row
Step2 Upload files for editing
Manually add the PDF you want to edit from your computer or drag and drop it in the given field. You can also upload files directly from your Dropbox or Google Drive account.
Step3 Edit your PDF
In the editing interface, add annotations, shapes and text freely. After you are done editing, click Apply to save the changes and have your document processed for downloading.
- Available for all operating systems
- All features are free
- Add shapes, lines, and text to enhance your PDFs
- Quick and easy drag and drop upload system
- Actual content can only be edited after conversion
PDFelement a powerful PDF editor with a number of smart features that make it one of the leading converters out there. You can edit your PDFs in an environment that you might already be familiar with from Microsoft’s Word processor, which significantly shortens the learning curve of this program. It has an advanced data extraction technology that creates easily editable data from your scanned PDF files via PDFelement’s built-in OCR reader. Moreover, its intelligent text editing tool lets you edit the contents of your file easily without changing the formatting settings of your original file. PDFelement is compatible with Windows, Mac, android and iOS which makes it a highly versatile piece of software. If something negative had to be mentioned in connection with PDFelement, it would be the fact that it leaves a watermark on every single page of your PDF.
The easy to follow guidelines below will demonstrate to you how the software can be used:
Step1 Open the PDF to be edited
Once you have the program open, on the home window click “Open File” and import the document you wish to edit from your directory.
Step2 Editing the text
On the navigation bar across the top, click Edit > Edit text. Now you will be able to edit the content of your document by double-clicking any text object. You can also make any necessary changes to the font type and color.
Step3 Adding and deleting text
Again, just select the text you wish to delete, and hit backspace to remove it. To add new text, click Add text on top and draw a text box in your document where you want the text to be placed.
- Powerful OCR technology
- Intelligent text editing tools
- The Office-like interface makes the learning curve shorter
- The free version comes with a number of limitations
- The Pro version is relatively expensive
- Free version leaves a watermark
Inkscape is a tool originally designed for image editing, but certain features can be used to make simple edits to PDF files as well. Inkscape is available for all three main operating systems; Windows, Mac and Linux. The interface of this program can be compared to that of Photoshop’s and thus it is not recommended for absolute beginners. Considering that Inkscape is primarily an image editor, if you use it in the context of PDF editing, it will only be able to handle basic editing tasks such as editing images and text related editing such as highlighting, underlining, annotating. For more complex tasks, one of the above or below mentioned tools is a better option. The big advantage of Inkscape is, however, that it is an open source software, meaning that its is distributable for free and you have the opportunity to look into its source code and possible develop it to fit the needs of even more people.
- Available for the 3 most common operating systems
- Open source, so source code is available for anyone to view and edit
- Sufficient text and image editing tools
- User interface takes time getting used to
- Limited number of editing tools
FormSwift PDF Editor
FormSwift PDF Editor can be accessed online from FormSwift’s official website. With the dynamic drag and drop technology you can upload files to be edited in a matter of seconds. The editing interface is straightforward and offers detailed help pop-ups to assist the editing process. FormSwift includes numerous free features that you only find in other software if you pay for their pro version. With FormSwift you can add images, text, shapes and many other things to your document and it also features a unique eraser tool with which you can erase any sensitive information from your PDF. The text of your PDF can be customized by changing the font, the size and the color of your text. Once you have finished editing, you can share or download your PDF with a single click. There are a number of detailed reviews of FormSwift on the web if you want to learn more about the program.
- Everything is done online, no additional software is required
- No watermark place on your PDF
- Annotations, icons and signatures can be added easily
- Download and share your edited file easily
- Original text cannot be edited
- Uploading from Dropbox and Google Drive is not supported
IceCream PDF Split & Merge
IceCream is renowned for producing high-quality, easy to use software for your computer. Their PDF Split and Merge tool does exactly what the name suggests; splits and merges PDF files. But unfortunately, that is pretty much all it can do apart from some very basic features, such as password protecting your documents, and having an easy to use drag and drop system for uploading your files. But if you do not require advanced editing features, IceCream’s PDF editor is a good option whether you are a Windows or a Mac user. However, the splitting and merging functions it has got to offer are sophisticated enough to get the job done with precision. Moreover, the software is completely free, and has very few limitations compared to its paid counterpart. If you want to find out more about the program, the official site of Icecream Apps has a very good video presenting the functions of their Split and Merge tool.
- Split and merge PDF documents with a precision and speed
- Easy to use interface with a short learning curve
- Available for both Windows and Mac
- Manage password protected documents
- Built-in PDF reader
- No advanced editing features
- Capable of carrying out only very basic tasks
Sejda is yet another online PDF editor tool with which you can save a lot of time with. Its sleek design will let you access any of its features with a single click. You only have to upload your PDF from your computer and you will be taken immediately to Sejda’s editing environment where you can freely add annotations in the form of shapes, lines or text and have access to many other PDF managing tools such as conversion, merging, watermarking etc. The free online version does come with some limitations though, but is you do not want to edit extra long PDFs for extra long periods of time, you will not need to pay for a subscription package. If you are concerned about privacy issues, you can rest assured that your document will be deleted from the servers as soon as you finish editing.
- Available online
- No installation or registration needed
- Quick and easy upload
- Free version comes with some limitations
Overall, the number of PDF editors on the market has been constantly increasing in recent years as digitized information is becoming more and more important. Tweaking the content of these documents is not that easy as it seems. You are going to need additional software such as the ones mentioned above. All of these programs are useful in their own way and to determine what suits your needs the best you should also try some of these programs after reading about them. One software that has not been mentioned in our list is AceThinker’s PDF editor which boasts outstanding editing features among many other top-notch functions. Its streamlined interface significantly shortens its learning curve and allows users of any level to create stunning PDF documents.