As arguably the most popular format for distribution of digital documents, PDF is no stranger to anyone. From academic textbooks to software guides, and from bestselling novels to corporate memos, everything uses the Portable Document Format. And given its numerous convenient features (cross-platform nature, formatting retention, security etc.) it’s easy to see why. That being said, there are quite a few times when you need to edit a PDF, but don’t want to shell out money for paid PDF editor applications.
The thing is, you don’t have to, as there are numerous free PDF editor applications available, both desktop-based and online, more than adequate for the job. Curious already? Get reading folks!
Best Free PDF Editors: Desktop Applications
Even though it’s not exactly a PDF editing application but a word-processor instead, AbleWord is at the top of this list, and that is because of just how good it is. It fully supports reading/editing of PDF documents, and renders PDF files near flawlessly. You can add/remove/modify text and images, check spellings, insert tables and frames, and then some more. Simply open up the PDF document to be edited, and AbleWord will handle the rest. Once done, save your changes. It’s really that simple.
Platform Availability: Windows
2. PDFsam (Basic)
Simple and easy to use, PDFsam is a free and open-source application that lets you effect a number of editing operations on PDF documents. With PDFsam (Basic), you can not only merge and rotate PDFs, but also split them in different ways (e.g. by page numbers, by bookmarks, by size). All these options can be easily selected from the home-screen, and you can specify granular parameters (output path, regular expression based matching etc.) for each. And if you’re looking for even more features (form creation, encryption), you can always upgrade to the Enhanced version.
Platform Availability: Windows, Mac OS X
3. PDF Shaper
Essentially, PDF Shaper is based on the premise of converting PDF files to editable RTF documents, but that’s not all. PDF Shaper consists of a set of tools that let you apply editing operations like merge, rotate, and split on PDF documents. Other than that, it can also extract images and text from PDF files, delete/rotate individual pages, and convert PDFs to images. You can digitally sign PDF files, and encrypt them using passwords. There are even a number of themes to choose from.
Platform Availability: Windows
4. PDF-XChange Viewer
If your PDF editing needs are (mostly) centered around annotation, PDF-XChange Viewer is going to be perfect. The feature laden program makes it super easy to add information to PDF documents, thanks to the plethora of tools it comes with. You can add stamps, callouts, sticky notes etc., as well as shapes like oval and rectangle to PDF files. Not just that, there are also tools that can be used to measure distance, perimeter, and area of specified region(s) on the documents. And the fact that PDF-XChange Viewer is available as a portable app just makes things better.
Note: Even though PDF-XChange Viewer is available to be downloaded as of now, it has been replaced by an advanced, paid application called PDF-XChange Editor. So there’s a possibility that the viewer application might become unavailable to download in future.
Platform Availability: Windows
Best Free PDF Editors: Online Tools
One of the better web-based solutions for editing PDF documents, PDFEscape boasts quite some features, and is incredibly simple to use as well. You can use it to insert everything from text to images, and links to freehand drawings in PDF documents. There are also some annotation goodness thrown into the mix, and PDF forms can be filled too. It even lets you share edited documents online, if you register a free account. In essence, as long as your PDF files are up to 10 MB in size, and 100 pages in length, PDFEscape is going to work just fine.
For a web-based PDF editor that doesn’t cost a thing, PDFzorro sure is impressive. PDFs are uploaded over SSL encrypted connections. Apart from that, edited PDFs are irretrievably deleted from the service’s servers. PDFzorro can be used to add text, highlights, as well as shapes to the PDF documents. You can even password protect PDF documents, and compress them to reduce size. PDFzorro also has Chrome extensions that let you edit and merge PDF documents stored in your Google Drive cloud storage account.
Probably one of the most heavily loaded free PDF editor tools available online, DocHub makes editing even the largest of PDF files a walk in the park. Its powerful annotation tools let you add highlights, text etc. to the documents, and all edits are saved to the cloud in real-time. Communication between the servers and your computer is secured by 256-bit encryption, and you can invite other users to collaborate on documents too. Not just that, DocHub is integrated with Google Drive and Dropbox for seamless editing, and you also get form-filling functionality. And if that isn’t enough, you can always upgrade to the paid account, which adds features like multi-user document signing, the ability to fax pages, and more.
8. Lumin PDF
Having a thoughtfully laid out design, Lumin PDF is a great free PDF editor tool that runs straight in your browser. Once you’ve uploaded a PDF file for editing, you can add text, highlights, and free-form illustrations to it. Not just that, PDFfiller also lets you create multiple custom signatures, which can be added to PDF documents with one click. The files are saved to the cloud in real-time. Lumin PDF is integrated with a variety of cloud storage services, such as Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive.
Bonus: Convert PDFs to other formats for editing
Another simple method for editing PDF files is to convert them to easily editable formats such as DOC, and TXT. This way, you can easily edit them in regular word processing applications, and save the edited files as PDF files again. And for that, you can use one of the many PDF to Word converters.
Edit PDF files easily and conveniently!
There are numerous times when we have to edit PDF documents. However, the editing requirements are not that big as to warrant spending on paid PDF editor applications. But as discussed above, there are quite a few free PDF editor tools that you can use. So try them all out, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.