The best PDF editors, to make it simple and easy to manage PDF files using advanced editing tools. This can include options to not just read, but also comment and edit PDF text online or through PDF editing software.
The PDF (it stands for Portable Document Format) was designed by Adobe for allowing documents to retain their formatting and appearance across all computers, all operating systems.
These days, most modern browsers act as free PDF readers, letting anyone open and view files. But when it comes to editing text in a PDF online, or making any other necessary changes, the easiest solution may not be the best PDF tool - especially for power-users.
If you’ve exhausted the possibilities in free PDF editing software, investing in a fully fledged, high-capability PDF editor can boost productivity and make workflows more efficient (no clunky workarounds in sight).
We’ve tested, reviewed, and rated the best PDF editors to help you do more with your documents. We’ve assessed the core features that users need - and need to know. This includes system requirements, user interface and experience, pricing, and security options.
Best PDF editors of 2022 in full:
If you work with PDF files professionally, then you’ll be hard pressed to find a better tool than Adobe Acrobat DC - our top pick for best PDF editor.
The company’s PDF editor allows you to create and edit PDFs, convert PDFs into a wide variety of formats including Microsoft Office files, share them with others and sign them as well.
In our hands-on review, we thought "the application has pretty much everything you might need to work on PDF documents and take your work with them to the next level, and it’s all presented in a nice, comprehensive interface."
Adobe Acrobat DC is available as part of Adobe Document Cloud, which includes PDF viewer, Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. And, in recent years, online collaboration has become a big focus of this PDF editor.
It allows you to easily share PDFs that can be viewed, reviewed and signed from any device and any location and you can even track their progress along the way. Working on the go is also possible as Adobe Acrobat DC lets you edit, create, export, organize and combine PDF files right from your smartphone or tablet.
Unlike some of the other best PDF editors on this list, Adobe Acrobat DC is available through a Creative Cloud subscription as opposed to a one-off fee. For those on a tighter budget, Acrobat Standard DC lets you create PDFs and export to Word, Excel and PowerPoint, edit text and images, reorder and delta pages in a PDF, password-protect PDF files and more.
If you frequently find yourself working with PDFs as part of your business, Acrobat Pro DC includes all of the features above and also lets you compare two versions of a PDF to review the differences, turn scanned documents into PDFs, redact sensitive information in PDFs and it even includes OCR functionality.
Read our full Adobe Acrobat DC review.
Nitro PDF Pro is one of the best PDF editors for Windows - and it's tool that's well-known in the industry, relied on by big-name Fortune 500 firms.
While Nitro PDF Pro is only available for PC, the team behind the PDF editor also makes PDFPenPro for Mac which has similar features at a lower price.
What makes Nitro PDF Pro a top PDF editor is that clean and simple user interface - instantly familiar to anyone who uses Microsoft’s Office software.
The software’s ribbon-style UI provides quick access to all of Nitro PDF Pro’s most important features including editing, combining, signing and converting PDFs. If you’re running older hardware, you’re in luck - this PDF editor runs well on slower devices, while still being reliable.
It's absolutely rich with features, and during our review, we found it "suitable for both minor, quick edits, as well as larger operations that require more advanced tools. It’s been designed with ease of use in mind from the start, making it suitable for beginners without much experience in the field."
Primarily geared towards commercial use - it's one of the best PDF editors for businesses - Nitro PDF Pro is only available with an annual subscription, with there is no way to pay in monthly installments.
However, there is a free trial available as well as discounts for those who purchase more than one license at a time which makes it a good choice for small businesses and larger firms alike that require access for multiple users.
Read our full Nitro PDF Pro review.
pdfFiller from airSlate is an end-to-end document management software suite that provides users with the feature-rich tools needed to transform static PDF files into interactive documents and templates - little wonder it's considered one of the best PDF editors on the market.
Since this software is available through a web interface, you can edit PDFs online - as well as import, convert, fill out, and export files right from your browser. PDF editor apps for iOS and Android are also available, but they have limited functionality compared to the web interface.
It was one of the sticking points in an otherwise grand review, as we note that while the tool has "many PDF editing and management features attractive to individual and enterprise users. However, one feature we’d like to see is a native pdfFiller desktop app with all the functionality of the web browser interface."
If you’re struggling to create a document on your own, pdfFiller has a vast online library of 25m documents for taxes, legal purposes, business and more. All of these can be downloaded and customized to your liking. At the same time, you can also build fillable PDF forms that connect to a payment gateway for your small business.
Once your PDF file is edited, you can securely share it with your teammates in just a few clicks. Besides sharing PDFs by email, pdfFiller also allows you to send them via text, by fax and through the mail with the option to have them notarized online right from your account.
Just like with Adobe Acrobat DC, pdfFiller is available via two recurring subscription plans. While the Basic plan offers PDF editing and cloud storage for your documents and is ideal for individuals, the Premium plan lets you create reusable templates, collect payments with PDF invoices and supports electronic signature workflows.
Read our full pdfFiller review.
EaseUS PDF Editor is a PC-only software whose purpose it to let you manipulate PDFs to a large extent. You’re not only able to merge documents together, or split them into multiple files, but you can delve deeper, manipulating the very content of that PDF.
In our review, we found it to be one of the best PDF editors, calling it “a powerful, PC-only PDF editing software tool that allows you to manipulate and alter documents with relative ease. It also comes with more standard features, such as a converter, and has good OCR capabilities. However, can be quite expensive if you go down the subscription route.”
Its editing capabilities are quite impressive. Everything on the page is split up into various boxes which you can move around and resize, and also edit their very content, even changing the font, color, and of course the text body. There are also collaborative features which facilitate working in a team environment.
EaseUS PDF Editor has a free version with limited functionality and watermarking, but it’s good enough to give you a feel for what to expect. You also have a couple of subscription options: monthly ($20) or yearly ($50), which unlock all features, or you can pay a one-off fee of $80 which includes all future upgrades for life.
Read our full EaseUS PDF editor review.
Foxit PDF Editor is a great bit of kit for PDF power-users. It transforms such documents into editable text boxes which you can resize, move around, and alter their content. And it does so very well.
It also possesses additional tools which could be most useful, especially for businesses who work and need to alter PDFs on a regular basis. Tools such as merging and splitting documents, and rearranging pages are de rigueur for such software, but you’ll also find a very good OCR capability, varied annotation tools (to leave notes to other members of your team).
But the redaction tools are truly excellent. If you need to protect sensitive data, this is the tool for the job, as it doesn’t simply mask data with a colored box - where restricted text remains accessible.
In our review, we explained: “You could use ‘Whiteout’. Click and drag the section you wish to delete, and it’s permanently removed from the document. You can’t even undo this. Another option is the ‘Mark for Redaction’ tool. This allows you to select text to be blacked out. Click on ‘Apply Redaction’, and after confirming this, the chosen content is no longer selectable or editable (or undoable).”
Foxit PDF Editor is available for a monthly or annual subscription or a perpetual license. The firm 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.
Soda PDF is one of the top PDF editors online, with apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
If you need to make changes to PDF documents on a regular basis, and find yourself having to work from various locations, often using whatever machine is at hand, like a PC, a tablet or even a phone, then you might well appreciate Soda PDF Online.
With it, you can control everything in the document, right from your browser. The interface is easy to use and responsive. When we tried out the software, we were delighted to find “a versatile, well-designed, online PDF editor with numerous tools to hand to make all the changes you need making to a document, from minor typos to pretty much starting 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. These will allow you to perform many actions, including altering the original text of a PDF, adding images, and additional content, splitting PDFs, merging them, and such like.
But the most interesting tools are kept for Pro, and these include OCR searching, E-Sign capabilities, Batch options, the ability to add Comments (useful when collaborating), and being able to Secure a PDF and create Forms.
This is a great service, worth checking out - and there’s even a free trial to allow you to do so at no risk to you. It’s also completely compatible with Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader, if you’re already locked in the Adobe exosphere.
Read our full Soda PDF review
WinZip PDF Pro is one of the best PDF editors for those who want no-hassle document editing and manipulation tools.
The software offers a clean, simple interface for any PC user needing to manipulate and otherwise interact with PDF documents. The tools are easy to use, and allow you to do everything you’d expect from your PDF editor - from reading documents to manipulating content, and collaborating on files. You also have the option to fill in forms, password protect docs, and add page numbers.
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.
It’s not perfect. It has a couple of annoying glitches that mar the overall positive experience. But it’s definitely 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 perpetual licence for you!. Pricing is $75 / £78 per year.
Read our full WinZip PDF Pro review
While there are plenty of PDF editors for Apple devices, Readdle PDF Expert is arguably the best PDF editor for Mac right now.
The document editing tool allows you to edit and work with PDFs across all of your Apple devices. Changes are also reflected across devices so if you edit a PDF on your iPhone, you can then pick up right where you left off on your iPad or MacBook. Readdle PDF Expert’s prowess on Apple devices hasn’t gone unrecognized as it was given an Editor’s Choice award by Apple itself and was recently the App of the Year in the Mac App Store.
In our hands-on review, we praised Readdle for its "very clean UI design and everything is neatly organized so you don’t need a lot of help in understanding how the software works when you use it for the first time." We also noted that, as macOS and iOS tool, "it really easy to synchronize your documents on all of your Apple devices."
PDF Expert runs on Apple’s own Metal which provides the performance necessary to open 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. Themes such as day, night and sepia allow you to customize the look of this PDF editor while split view lets you see two pages at the same time.
Text to speech is also available for those who would rather have their PDFs read to them. OCR technology allows PDF Expert to recognize scanned text with the highest level of precision. This works especially well with older documents that need distortions fixed, shadows removed and their contrast improved.
A 7-day free trial lets you test out PDF Expert for yourself and from there, you can either pay a monthly subscription to use the software but Readdle also has 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.
PDFelement from Wondershare is easily the best PDF editor for beginners, with its emphasis on simplifying the editing experience with an easy-to-use all-rounder for creating, editing, converting and signing PDF files across Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and the web.
We found its user interface is streamlined, and even beginners will be able to find all of the tools and settings they need to make their PDFs shine.
Although it’s simple enough for beginners, PDFelement is a feature-packed PDF editor. 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.
During our time with PDFelement, we felt "both regular users and those with more advanced needs should find the interface easy enough to navigate, and the comprehensive help provided with the program should bridge any gaps."
The top PDF editor app can also be used to compress large PDF files that need to be sent over email while its OCR capabilities can recognize text from scanned PDFs and images while making them editable and searchable. When it comes to securing your PDFs, 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.
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 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 and your current skill level.
If it’s simple text editing, a standard app with fewer features, such as PDFelement will work well. However, if your needs are more advanced, you'll need an advanced tool, like Adobe Acrobat, to edit your PDFs. Check for extra features like encryption and cloud storage for documents.
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
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.
Find out how we independently test, review, and rate products on TechRadar.