Did you know that PDFs were not widely adopted in the 1990s, when the format was first created by Adobe co-founder John Edward Warnock? They were bigger than plain text documents, didn’t support hyperlinking and were quite slow to render on computers of the 90s. Besides, Adobe Acrobat, the software required to create and read PDFs, was not freely available until much later.
Today, however, PDF is one of the most widely used formats for document sharing. There are several really good tools for handling PDF documents, and we’re going to cover several of them today. If you want to know the best PDF editors for Windows in 2019, we invite you to read on.
Learn More: Top 7 Best Free PDF Editor for Mac
PDFelement is probably the most comprehensive yet cost-effective PDF editor available today. It brings all the features of the top PDF editors at a price point that’s affordable for the bulk of small to medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs. PDFelement has a new look and more powerful functionality than previous iterations, support for XFA-based PDFs, better data extraction, the ability to add attachments to PDFs and a slew of other features. Core functionality includes being able to create, edit, sign, protect and do OCR on PDFs in Windows as well as Mac.
Price: PDFelement is available to start with $69 for one year license, if you want to get a Perpetual License, you just need to pay an addition $10. Now they offer a limited-time to get 40% off discount until the end of April. You can click the discount link to make it the most affordable and full-featured alternative to the industry standard, Adobe Acrobat DC Pro.
- Full range of features to rival the best products in this category, including Adobe and Nitro.
- Affordable for smaller businesses that don’t have the financial firepower of large corporations.
- Better functionality than its peers in several areas like PDF conversion speed, maintaining the original layout of documents and overall ease-of-use.
- Lack of deep cloud integration, but it does have Dropbox access capabilities.
- Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP
- macOS 10.10 or later (including macOS 10.14 Mojave)
How to Edit PDF Using PDFelement in Windows
- Open the PDF file in PDFelement.
- Select the Edit option from the top menu.
- Depending on what you want to edit, you can choose line mode or paragraph mode in the right-side panel, which also contains formatting options.
- To edit images, select the images and then choose from rotate, crop, extract and other options in the right-side panel.
- You can edit links by selecting the anchor text or URL in the PDF. You can go to a page view, add an attachment or link to a web page, and also control highlight style, link type and link style.
- There are also options to add watermarks, header and footer, change the background and add Bates numbering to the document, the controls for which appear on a conveniently-placed toolbar that appears at the top when you click the Edit option.
#2: Adobe Acrobat Pro DC
Adobe has long been the de facto PDF editor used by businesses worldwide. Even though there are equally robust applications, most businesses tend to gravitate to Adobe by force of habit. Since it was Adobe that created the format in the first place, the company had a head start on developing the editing and reading software until it became an open standard in 2008. This past decade has seen a lot of companies put out equally robust and more affordable PDF solutions, but Adobe remains the company to beat when it comes to user base. In 2018, more than 250 million PDFs were opened using Adobe’s products. Some of the core features include PDF creation, editing, conversion, signing and reviewing.
Price: An Adobe Acrobat Pro DC license costs $14.99 a month with an annual commitment, bringing the annual outlay to about $180. Perpetual licenses are only sold through volume licensing programs and costs $450 per user.
- Ideal for large organizations because of sharing and cloud integrations.
- Comprehensive utility for managing PDFs.
- Mature product with a large user base.
- Multiple PDF products for use-case-specific purposes.
- Prohibitive pricing for individual users and perpetual licensing.
- Subscription means you keep paying for as long as you use the software.
- Doesn’t always maintain the original layout, especially when multiple types of content are present in a document.
- Windows Server 2008 R2 (64 bit), 2012 (64 bit), 2012 R2 (64 bit), or 2016 (64 bit); Windows 7 SP1 (32 bit and 64 bit), Windows 8, 8.1 (32 bit and 64 bit), or Windows 10 (32 bit and 64 bit)
- Mac OS X v10.11, macOS v10.12, macOS v10.13, or macOS v10.14 (known issues include printing errors and converting to PDF from Word, Excel and PowerPoint)
- Windows Phone
How to Edit PDF Using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC in Windows
- Open a PDF file in Acrobat Pro DC.
- In the right-side panel, click Edit.
- Click on the element to be edited, and the related tools will be shown.
- Paragraph and line mode are automatically reflowed, and elements can be resized by clicking and dragging.
- Other elements can be edited by selecting them and using the relevant tools that appear for each type.
#3: Nitro Pro 12
Australia-based Nitro PDF is another great PDF editor for Windows. There’s no Mac version currently available, but you can dual-boot a Mac with Windows 10 to use this software. Though slightly less expensive than Adobe’s equivalent product, Nitro Pro 12 is not really meant for individual users. The Nitro Productivity Suite is more of a comprehensive set of tools for corporates, and includes robust cloud integration and other advanced functionalities. Core functions include PDF creation, editing, eSigning, conversion, cloud sharing with the OneDrive for Business connector, real-time workflow tracking and signature collection, compatibility with CAD drawings and quicker validation of digital signatures.
Price: Single-user perpetual license costs $159, and comes with Nitro Pro and the basic version of Nitro Cloud. For other products in the suite, you’ll need to upgrade to a Business or Enterprise license.
- Great for workflow management, even with large teams.
- Document sharing via cloud.
- CAD compatibility and the ability to export to PDF from AutoCAD, Microstation and Revit
- Drag and drop PDF elements between multiple open windows.
- Electronic signatures requires a different product.
- Pricing may be prohibitive for infrequent users.
- Too many features for the average users, which likely reflects in the pricing.
- Windows only
How to Edit PDF Using Nitro Pro 12 in Windows
- Open a PDF document in Nitro Pro.
- To edit the document, click on Edit on the ribbon seen on the navigation.
- Double-click on text to edit it. Highlighting the text lets you control formatting elements from the floating toolbar.
- You can also go to the Home tab and click on Type Text to add text anywhere in the document, even when there are no interactive elements.
- To manage headers and footers, go to Page Layout > Page Marks > Header & Footer > Manage Headers & Footers.
- You can also extract images by using the Select tool and clicking on an image. You can save them as PNG, TIF or JPG.
- Watermarks and backgrounds can be edited or managed from Page Layout > Page Marks > Watermark > Manage Watermarks & Backgrounds.
#4: PDF Complete
We’ve included this in the list of Top 10 PDF Editors because it serves all the needs of a basic user at an affordable price. Don’t look for fancy integrations or even Mac support. This is purely a Windows application. Core functions of PDF Complete Office Edition 4.2 include PDF creation, editing, scanner to PDF, screenshots and snipping, annotating, manipulating (add, delete, move, merge), document security and permissions, and exporting to multiple formats. For this price, the tool has quite an impressive list of features and functionality, which is why it features in this list.
Price: PDF Complete Office Edition 4.2 is available at $59.95, and can be upgraded for free when Office Edition 5.0 is released.
- Strong features list.
- Affordable pricing.
- Ideal for small and home business users.
- No Mac version and no mobile apps for iOS or Android
- Very limited functionality in the free trial version.
- No cloud integration or sharing functions.
- Windows only
How to Edit PDF Using PDF Complete in Windows
- Open a PDF using the File menu.
- Click on text or image elements to open the edit tools in the right sidebar.
- Select text or complete blocks for formatting options.
- Select images to extract to image formats.
- Use the main menu (Tools) to add watermarks and manage footers and headers.
- Select individual pages and reorder them in the pages panel to the left of the main window.
#5: PhantomPDF from Foxit
One of the first things we noticed (and loved) about this PDF editor is how the layout bears an eerie resemblance to MS Office applications. The tabulated toolbar sections allow a lot of functionality to be presented upfront and available easily. Edit functions include all standard options like create, merge, reorder, image options and so on. You can also easily manage other elements like watermarks, headers & footers, Bates numbering, stamps and more. It is also integrated with ConnectedPDF, which powers several cloud-based services like security, collaboration and document tracking.
Price: At $159 for a perpetual single-user license (Business 9), it is priced similar to Nitro Pro, while providing comparable features and deep cloud integration.
- Well-integrated with cloud services for easy collaboration.
- Ideal for large teams across multiple geographical locations.
- Not ideal for smaller teams or individual users.
#6: Able2Extract Professional 14
Able2Extract Professional 14 is a relatively new player in the PDF game, but the Canadian company behind the product does have a lot of experience with PDF utilities from way back in 2000, when it was incorporated. The product itself is designed to appeal to small business as well as enterprise users, and offers the full gamut of PDF editing, signing, creating, converting, OCR, form creation and filling, security and review tools. New features in version 14 include ready-to-use templates for PDF to Excel conversion, batch conversion with master templates, better PDF form formatting and advanced data extraction from tables.
Price: At $149.95 for a full license, it falls in the Nitro category and offers equivalent capabilities.
- Excellent suite of tools for PDF management at a reasonable price for smaller businesses.
- Desktop and server application choices, with a range of developer tools for larger organizations.
- Available for Linux in addition to Windows and Mac
- PDF to DWG and AutoCAD online.
- Lacks full cloud integration.
- Limited support for Android
- Android (only Able2Doc for PDF to Word conversion)
#7: Soda PDF
Soda PDF is best known for its desktop+web combination offering. Buy the desktop version and you also get access to Soda PDF online, one of the more comprehensive online PDF tools we’ve seen so far. The Home version comes with standard features like create, convert, edit and review, while the premiun version includes custom form creation, password protection and permissions, redaction and signatures. They don’t have a Mac version, per se, but the full version of Soda PDF online offers all the editing features as well as cloud connectivity. The features are solid enough on both online and desktop versions, and it’s a great cross-platform utility because of the web version.
Price: Soda PDF 11 Home version is $79 and Premium is $129. You have to pay an extra $30 for OCR for both versions.
- Web version for on-the-go PDF management.
- Full capabilities with both versions.
- Integrated with all popular cloud storage brands.
- No dedicated Mac version or mobile apps.
- Could be a security concern when used over a public network.
#8: Power PDF
This one is from Nuance Communications, Inc., which offers a diverse range of solutions, with Power PDF being its core PDF utility. One of its more famous products is Dragon NaturallySpeaking, a speech recognition platform that it acquired from Dragon Systems after its merger with Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products. Power PDF is a comprehensive tool that offers everything from personal use to enterprise editions of PDF software. With comprehensive editing, convertion and creation tools, Power PDF stands out as being the first that allows you to speak your PDF notes instead of typing them. It also offers real-time collaboration on local networks.
Price: Power PDF doesn’t come cheap. The Standard version is £94.99, or approximately $125, while the Advanced version with DocuSign integration, collaboration and other premium features costs £154.99, or about $205. Definitely not the most affordable PDF editor, but the features justify the cost.
- Interface is like MS Office and compatible for touchscreen use.
- Connected to major cloud storage services.
- Local network collaboration in real-time.
- Great for editing multimedia content in PDFs.
- On the expensive side for average users.
- No advanced version for Mac and no mobile apps.
- No conversion to EPUB.
- Only one document can be open at any given time.
- Mac (Standard only)
#9: PDF Architect
The company, pdfforge, calls it “the only customizable PDF editor” because it’s available in a pick-and-choose modular form. That’s what you’d think, but it’s actually a tiered approach that’s similar to almost every software product out there. The E-Sign feature is the only real optional one. However, the product itself is a fairly robust PDF editor. The Pro version includes full editing options, PDF splitting, grids and rulers, extraction, page reordering and all the usual features you’d expect in a premium product.
Price: Pro version is $109 for a one-time license with minor updates for one year. Includes bug fixes. OCR is $30 extra.
- Affordable alternative to Adobe and other premium products.
- Flexible subscription and one-time licensing options.
- Easy to learn for first-time users.
- Can send to Evernote for viewing and editing.
- Not truly modular.
- OCR not included in Pro version.
- Missing drag and drop editing.
- No Mac version or mobile apps.
- Windows only
#10: Microsoft Word
You might find it odd that Microsoft Word made it to this list, but since Word is a ubiquitous application used by nearly every business on the planet, it is ideal for light editing tasks. The bonus is that you won’t be paying any extra since it’s already a part of Word for Office 365, Word 2019, Word 2016 and Word 2013. Don’t expect any fancy tools like OCR or form extraction, but for PDFs that consist mostly of text, you get the leverage all of the editing tools from Word. The document is actually converted into Word format, so the original doesn’t undergo any changes. You can then export this copy as a fresh PDF with all the changes you made.
Price: Included with your MS Office package or Office 365 subscription.
- No additional cost.
- Good for light text editing.
- Utilizes all the edit and image managment tools from Word.
- Not a full-fleged PDF editor with comprehensive tools.
- Not suitable for PDFs with a lot of non-text elements.
- Won’t change the original document, but rather creates an editable copy.
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