Best PDF editor of 2024

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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
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Looking for the best PDF editor? We reviewed the top software and these are the programs we think are worth a download. 

While the best free PDF editors to the best free PDF readers are great for quick and casual use, nothing beats a fully featured PDF editing software. In our experience, Adobe Acrobat Standard is the best PDF editor for most people. Our expert review team has comprehensively tested all the software, and Adobe's offering features every document management tool you're likely to need, from file creation to form-filling and eSignatures. 

You'll find a range of options, and reviewed each one, exploring PDF creation and editing process, checking device compatibility, and comparing core features including OCR, data redaction and security, and supported cloud storage services.

We've tested the best PDF compressors - and these are our top picks. 


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Best PDF editor overall

(Image credit: Adobe)
Still the best for most people

Specifications

Operating system: Windows, macOS
Plan: Subscription

Reasons to buy

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Great for general and business users
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Nicely designed interface
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Very easy to use
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Flexible and customizable

Reasons to avoid

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Requires subscription
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Missing some Pro tools

It’s been around a long time, but in our experience, Adobe Acrobat is still the best PDF editor out there. 

There are three Acrobat products from Adobe, with Reader, a basic PDF viewer, and the fully-featured Acrobat Pro designed for businesses. In our experience, Reader lacks most features needed to edit PDF documents, while as good as it is, Pro is overkill for most general users.

But for us, Adobe Acrobat Standard hits the sweet spot. A comprehensive toolkit offers up a wealth of document management features, from file creation to extensive collaboration options. Filetype conversion, merging, electronic signatures, form-filling - just about every essential function you’ll need to administer PDF files, wrapped inside a clean and well-designed interface that’s easy to use. Instead of forcing you to work a certain way, Acrobat is flexible, customizable, fitting into your workflow, rather than the other way around. 

If you’re a more casual user, the subscription may not offer the best value for money - and there are a few tools in the Pro version that we feel really should be part of Acrobat Standard. But overall, this is an outstanding PDF editor for most everyday users. 

Read our full Adobe Acrobat Standard (2024) review .

Best PDF editor for mobile

(Image credit: airSlate)
Great for modifying on mobile

Specifications

Operating system: Web, Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Plan: Subscription

Reasons to buy

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Available on the web
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Link sharing for collaboration
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Password-protected documents

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited free services
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Steep learning curve for advanced features

pdfFiller from airSlate is an end-to-end document management software suite - and a great way to transform static PDFs into interactive files and templates from a library of 25 million documents for taxes, legal purposes, business and more. 

The tool is web-based, with more limited PDF editor apps for Android and iOS, so you can edit PDFs online, import, convert, fill out, and export files right from your browser. You can also build fillable forms that connect to a payment gateway for your business. 

Beyond essential online collaboration tools, pdfFiller also allows you to send files via text, by fax and through the mail with the option to have them notarized online right from your account.

The tool has three subscription plans, Basic, Plus, and Premium, but only the latter lets you create reusable templates, collect payments with PDF invoices, and supports electronic signature workflows.

Read our full pdfFiller review. 

Best PDF editor for business

(Image credit: Nitro)
Built for businesses large and small

Specifications

Operating sytem: Windows, macOS
Plan: Subscription

Reasons to buy

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Easy to use MS Office-style UI
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Built for commercial use
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Low system requirements

Reasons to avoid

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Some file formats are missing for conversion
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Annual subscription only

Nitro PDF Pro is a clean and simple PDF editor for Windows and Mac (Mac users can choose between PDF Pro and the less feature-filled PDF Pro Essentials). 

The ribbon-style UI makes navigation will be instantly familiar to anyone who uses Microsoft’s Office software - and it’s here where you’ll find tools including editing, combining, signing and converting PDFs. 

With ease-of-use at the forefront of design, it's suitable for beginners and experienced PDF editors. The ribbon-style UI makes navigation will be instantly familiar to anyone who uses Microsoft’s Office software - and it’s here where you’ll find tools including editing, combining, signing and converting PDFs. It's absolutely rich with advanced features like OCR, primarily geared towards commercial use. When we tested the PDF editor software, we found it suitable for minor edits and big projects. 

Nitro PDF Pro is only available with an annual subscription. However, there are discounts for those who purchase more than one license at a time - ideal for organizations that require access for multiple users.

Read our full Nitro PDF Pro review.

Best subscription-free PDF editor

(Image credit: EaseUS)
A powerful PDF editor with a one-off charge

Specifications

Operating system: Windows
Plan: Subscription, Perpetual License

Reasons to buy

+
Clean interface and solid user experience
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Full of advanced editing and formatting tools
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One-time buy lifetime license so no subscriptions

Reasons to avoid

-
Occasionally tricky to alter PDFs
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Windows-only

The PC-only EaseUS PDF Editor lets you edit and manipulate PDF files. Other ‘as standard’ tools include the ability to merge, split, and convert PDFs to other formats. 

After testing out the software, we found it powerful and packed with all the basics you need, alongside advanced features like OCR and online collaboration tools. Editing capabilities are quite impressive. Everything on the page is split up into various boxes that can be moved around and resized. You can also edit the content, changing the font, color, and of course the text body.

EaseUS PDF Editor has a free version with limited functionality - and be warned, it will add a watermark to PDFs. But it’s good enough to give you a feel for what to expect. Monthly and yearly subscriptions unlock all features, or you can pay a one-off fee which lets you download all future upgrades for life. A good pick for solo or small businesses, if you want to go subscription-free, this software is worth consideration. 

Read our full EaseUS PDF editor review .

Best PDF editor for signatures

DocHub's PDF editor during our tests

(Image credit: DocHub)
Edit, share, and sign documents

Specifications

Operating system: Web, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Plan: Free, subscription

Reasons to buy

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Great range of signature options
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Google and Dropbox integration
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Wide filetype support
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Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

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Minor glitches were reported by some users.
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Not made for demanding, advanced workflows

DocHub is worth your consideration if you’re looking for a PDF editor with an emphasis on getting documents signed. Because that’s what this intuitive and easy-to-use document management system really excels at. 

A limited free plan is available, while the pro plan is priced at $10 per user per month, letting you sign and send unlimited documents. After testing out the software, we came away feeling it was “When we went hands-on with the software, we described it as “a true gem, delivering comprehensive functionality without burdening users with unnecessary expenses.” 

All the baseline features are present and correct, including a fully loaded page manager, letting you rearrange, label, rotate, add, and delete pages. The field creation, too, has plenty of options, including the ability to add text boxes, time-stamps, and legally binding signatures. And we found the sharing and collaboration tools were plentiful, ideal for creating PDFs and making sure they get signed by those you send them to. 

It’s not as feature-rich as advanced PDF editors like Acrobat. But for making sure documents get signed, it’s ideal. 

Read our full DocHub review .

Best PDF editor for data security

(Image credit: Foxit)
Manipulate PDFs in style

Specifications

Operating system: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Plan: Subscription, Perpetual License

Reasons to buy

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Easy to use
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Multi-platform 
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Powerful OCR and redaction tools

Reasons to avoid

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HTML to PDF occasionally glitchy
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Pro version is PC-only

Foxit PDF Editor is great for PDF power-users. It transforms documents into editable text boxes to be repositioned, resized before altering the content. And it does it all so very well. 

Tools like merging and splitting documents, and rearranging pages are de rigueur for such software, and well-implemented. You’ll also find very good OCR capabilities and annotation tools. 

But the redaction tools are truly excellent. If you’re a data-conscious organization, this is a serious stand-out feature. For protecting sensitive data for legal and compliance reasons, this is the tool for the job, as it doesn’t simply mask data with a colored box - where restricted text remains accessible in the right hands. 

The PDF editor is available for a monthly or annual subscription or a perpetual license. Foxit also offers the upgraded PDF Editor Pro and PDF Editor Pro+ (yearly subscription only) for more advanced tools. 

Read our full Foxit PDF Editor review .

Best PDF editor online

Online PDF editor Soda PDF in action

(Image credit: Soda PDF)
Adding some fizz to editing PDFs in your browser

Specifications

Operating system: Web, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Plan: Subscription

Reasons to buy

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Free PDF editing, converting, merging, and compressing - up to a point
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Easy to use
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Works great in browsers

Reasons to avoid

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Top tools locked behind Pro subscription
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Subscription-only

Soda PDF is one of the best PDF editors online, with PDF editor apps for Android, Windows, macOS, and iOS. 

The interface is easy to use and responsive. When we tried out the software, we were delighted to find a well-designed, online PDF editor. The interface is easy to use and responsive. The tools are useful. And it’s a cinch to modify content from fixing typos to effectively building a PDF document from scratch.

Soda PDF is a subscription-only service which comes in two tiers: Standard and Pro.

Standard gets you the basic tools, such as View, Convert, Edit, and Page. But the most interesting tools are kept for Pro, and these include OCR searching, digital signatures, annotations, and creating forms. 

A free trial is on offer so you can give it a spin. It’s also completely compatible with Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader, if you’re already locked in the Adobe ecosystem.

Read our full Soda PDF review  .

Best easy PDF editor

Screenshot of WinZip PDF Pro PDF editor

(Image credit: WinZip)
Incredibly easy to use, full of tools

Specifications

Operating system: Windows
Plan: Subscription

Reasons to buy

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Large toolkit for reading, manipulating, and collaborating on PDF documents
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Very simple to use

Reasons to avoid

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PC only
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Occasional glitches and minor interface irritations
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Subscription-only

No-hassle PDF editing and manipulation tools is what WinZip PDF Pro offers. 

When we tested WinZip PDF Pro, we found it offers the tools to achieve pretty much everything you’d want to do to a PDF on a desktop PC. 

The software serves up a clean, simple interface, with similarly easy-to-use tools - from reading documents to manipulating content, and collaborating on files. You also have the option to fill in forms, password protect documents, and add page numbers. 

It’s not perfect. The PDF editor software is built for Windows, meaning Apple users will want to look elsewhere. And we stumbled across a couple of annoying glitches that mar the overall positive user experience. 

Despite that, it remains one of the best in its category, and worth checking out, especially since it has a free seven-day trial. If you decide to use it full time, you’ll need to buy a subscription - no lifetime license for you.

Read our full WinZip PDF Pro review .

Best PDF editor for Mac

(Image credit: Readdle)
Tailor-made for Apple devices

Specifications

Operating system: macOS, iOS, iPadOS
Plan: Subscription, Perpetual License

Reasons to buy

+
High performance without any delay or lag
+
Syncs across Apple devices
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Subscription and lifetime license available

Reasons to avoid

-
No Windows or Android version

There may be plenty of PDF editing software on Apple devices, but Readdle PDF Expert is arguably the best PDF editor for Mac right now. 

In our hands-on review, we praised the clean UI, which is intuitive and well-organized. And noted that, as a macOS and iOS tool, synchronizing your documents on other Apple devices was very straightforward. 

PDF Expert runs on Apple’s own Metal, providing excellent performance when opening large PDF documents without any delay or lag. From there, you can annotate, sign, convert, edit and organize PDFs as well as redact any sensitive information they contain. Text to speech is available. And the high-precision OCR tool works especially well with older documents that need distortions fixed, shadows removed, and contrast improved.

Readdle offers both a monthly subscription plan and a lifetime deal so that you can pay once and use one of the best PDF editors forever.

Read our full Readdle PDF Expert review .

Best PDF editor for minor edits

Screenshot of Pdf editor Kofax Power PDF

(Image credit: Kofax)
Make changes to PDFs and annotate them with ease

Specifications

Operating system: Windows, macOS
Plan: Perpetual License

Reasons to buy

+
Pay once, own forever
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Available on Windows and Mac
+
Clean, easy to use interface
+
Packed with tools

Reasons to avoid

-
Not a full PDF editor
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Differences between Standard versions on PC and Mac

Kofax Power PDF is a multi-platform program designed to read, manipulate, and annotate PDF files. 

You can’t create a document from scratch , and you can only alter the full content of an existing PDF when you’re using the Mac version, which contains a couple of tools the PC version bizarrely lacks. However, it’s possible to rotate, reorder and delete pages, as well as highlight and annotate sections of the document. You also have tools to convert documents into PDFs, such as Microsoft Office software like Word and Excel, as well as web pages.

Power PDF is available with a lifetime license. Buy once, own forever - whether you’re running Windows or macOS, choosing the Standard or Advanced edition. It’s an attractive proposition for those looking for alternatives to Acrobat’s subscription service. You can download the app and try it out free for 15 days - no personal info necessary.

Read our full Kofax Power PDF review  .

Best PDF editor for basics

(Image credit: Wondershare)
Great for basic PDF editing

Specifications

Operating system: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Plan: Subscription, Perpetual License

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use interface
+
Variety of useful features
+
Some advanced editing options

Reasons to avoid

-
Somewhat expensive
-
Occasionally slow

PDFelement from Wondershare is an easy-to-use all-rounder for creating, editing, converting and signing PDF files across Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and the web. 

With a streamlined interface, PDFelement is a feature-packed PDF editor. During our time testing out PDFelement, we felt it met the needs of regular users and power users who require advanced tools. The software allows you to convert Word, Excel, PNG and JPG files to PDFs with a handy batch convert feature for those that want to save time by processing multiple files simultaneously. Elsewhere you’ll find a PDF compressor and OCR tools. On the privacy side, you can add a password or redact sensitive information.

PDFelement is available in three different versions and both PDFelement for Desktop and PDFelement for iOS can be purchased through an annual subscription or with a one-time price. Document Cloud meanwhile, which lets you collaborate with others on the web, is available with an annual or semi-annual subscription.

Read our full PDFelement review .

We've also listed the best free PDF editors.


Best PDF editors FAQs

What is a PDF editor?

A PDF editor makes it possible to edit the otherwise non-editable PDF file. The PDF (Portable Document Format) file was designed for exchanging documents swiftly and reliably, but there was no option to edit it. PDF editors are built for editing PDFs directly, rather than converting them into an editable format (like .docx) and then making the changes.  

How do you edit a PDF?

Every PDF editor has its own way of letting you alter the contents of a document - and, more specifically, what you can edit. If you're using a full PDF editor like Nitro or Acrobat, you'll have a lot more modification tools than you will in simple PDF manipulators. 

We've looked at the steps needed to modify files in the best PDF editors in our guide How to edit a PDF

Should I use a free PDF editor or a paid one?

What features should my PDF editor have?

The best PDF editors often come equipped with lots of tools - so be on the look out for these features:

> Multi-platform support: Select the best PDF editor for the platforms you use - many work across Windows and Mac, with mobile PDF editing apps for Android, iOS, and iPad, but not all. The more platforms the better (because you never know when r where you might need it), including browser-based editing software. 

> Security: WIth organizations acutely aware of data compliance, many programs now feature a raft of security features from the basic password protection to full-on redaction tools. 

> Conversion: The PDF format is designed to display the same regardless of device or operating system - so, when you’re working with different apps, like Microsoft Word, a converter lets you change the filetype to PDF (and back again).

> OCR: Built-in optical character recognition (OCR) is a necessary feature when scanning paper-based documents to turn them into digital PDFs. Ideal for archiving or when upgrading systems. 

> eSign: Digital signature capabilities now let you create and share a document that can be signed by the user without having to ever step into your office. An essential tool, especially in HR and sales. 

> Merge & split: Merging lets you join multiple documents into one. Conversely, a PDF editor with the split feature lets you carve up a single document into many. Ideal when you need to make files manageable or more comprehensible. 

 > Compression: If you’re working with large documents, the PDF editor’s compression tools can shrink them to a more manageable file size. Best for saving physical and cloud storage space or for sharing.  

> Online collaboration: Remote and hybrid working has made online collaboration tools a necessity across modern organizations. In the very best PDF editors, these will range from wide share options, annotations, and comments to real-time collaboration. 

What's the difference between a PDF editor and a PDF reader?

A PDF reader is primarily built for letting you view existing documents, while the best PDF editing software gives you full control over a file from creation to collaboration. However, many of PDF readers have light editing capabilities, so you can highlight text, make minor changes, or manipulate the content in some way. 

A PDF editor lets you build PDF documents from scratch, and make changes across the file. This is the better option if you're a power-user, as they typically pack in a lot more tools, giving you complete control over how your document looks. 

If you only occasionally view PDF documents, most modern browsers are ready-made for this job - there's no additional software downloads and it won't cost you anything, either.   

When was the PDF invented?

Adobe's PDF filetype was introduced to the world in January 1993. It started life as the Camelot Project in 1990, taking influence from 1985's Postscript, one of the best desktop publishing software back then. 

The PDF filetype was created by Dr John Warnock, Adobe co-founder, who said at the time, "These documents should be viewable on any display and should be printable on any modern printers. If this problem can be solved, then the fundamental way people work will change."

With 2023 marking the 30th birthday for the ubiquitous format, we charted the fascinating history in 30 years of PDF: The file format that changed the world

How to choose the best PDF editor for you

When choosing which PDF editor is best for you, think about what you need from the tool. 

First, it should be easy to navigate and find what you're looking for - PDFs are great when streamlining workflows, so the program should be just as effortless in use. 

If it’s simple text editing you need, a standard app with fewer features will work well. Online or browser-based tools may also serve your needs well here. However, dedicated desktop apps for PDF editing are best when performing more advanced or complex actions, or using PDFs on a regular basis. Check for extra features like the best OCR software, the best eSign software, and best cloud storage options for your documents. Data-conscious businesses will also want to look for tools like Foxit PDF Editor, which feature excellent redaction tools to remove personal information from PDF files. 

You’ll also want to ensure the PDF editor is compatible with your operating system and has a bulk-buy discount if you’re purchasing multiple licenses for your firm.

How we test the best PDF editors

We've tested hundreds of PDF and office software - and we take the same user-centric approach to testing, reviewing, and rating each one, whether we're rounding up the best PDF reader for Mac, best PDF reader for Windows, and best PDF reader for Android.  

When we test the best PDF editors, we measure the software against the same criteria that matters to users. 

First. we assess performance and platform - what operating systems they’re available on, the system requirements to run the editor, and how swiftly they open up PDF documents (especially larger ones). 

We check how simple the interface is, and how easy the overall user experience is. The best PDF editors are accessible and intuitive to use - even more advanced offerings. We also test how well the product fits the intended audience. Is that beginner software straightforward? Does the business tool offer a professional features and results?

During our time with the software, we check how many file formats the software supports, whether there are security options like encryption and password protection, and other annotation and sharing features. 

Pricing is another factor. We then look at the purchase options available (if it’s a one-time buy or a subscription-based model), and if there are discounts when purchasing multiple licenses.


We've listed the best Adobe Acrobat alternatives.

Get in touch

Steve Clark
B2B Editor - Creative & Hardware

Steve is TechRadar Pro’s B2B Editor for Creative & Hardware. He explores the apps and devices for individuals and organizations that thrive on design and innovation. A former journalist at Web User magazine, he's covered software and hardware news, reviews, features, and guides. He's previously worked on content for Microsoft, Sony, and countless SaaS & product design firms. Once upon a time, he wrote commercials and movie trailers. Relentless champion of the Oxford comma.