PDF readers have become a normal part of the internet, with a huge number of PDF documents available online for a wide range of purposes, for the simple reason that it can be read by users with different operating systems.
And while there are generall all-purpose free PDF readers and editors there are ones specifically for different operating systems, such as PDF readers for Windows, PDF readers for Android - and, of course, PDF readers specifically for the Mac and Macbook.
While Apple Books includes a feature for reading and organizing PDF files, it does have some limitations. For example, it won't work with DRM protected files, plus it only allows for the reading of PDF files while other software can allow for the editing, annotating, and even e-signing of PDF documents. There are also document scanning apps available for working with PDF files.
Therefore if you want to do more with PDF files on your Mac or Macbook, you'll need a more dedicated solution. Luckily there are a number of strong contenders out there.
So here we'll feature the best in PDF Readers (and more!) for Apple users.
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Best PDF reader for the Mac - at a glance
- PDF Reader Premium
- Adobe Acrobat DC
- PDF Expert
An easy-to-use PDF management tool
Available to download directly from the Mac App Store, PDF Reader Premium from Kdan Software is one of the most powerful and popular PDF management tools for Apple computers. It functions as a file manager, file converter and page editor.
With the software, you can easily edit PDF files by adding freehand writing, text boxes, sticky notes, hyperlinks and annotations. And to ensure that important documents don’t get mixed up, you’re able to label them by adding tags and color-coding. What’s more, to keep track of all your saved files, you can make use of an import history feature.
The app works with iCloud, too, meaning you can back up and access saved documents on an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. There’s even compatibility with Dropbox, so you can easily import documents from devices that run on other operating systems.
Overall, you should find the app smooth and quick to use. It’s powered by a proprietary rendering engine, which aims to ensure that large files are processed and loaded without any lag. Currently, the app costs $59.99 (£42), although there is a free version that you can try before you purchase.
Adobe’s own heavyweight offering
Adobe not only invented the trusty PDF document in the first place, but the company has also created some top-notch apps to manage them. Acrobat Pro DC is a great example, and it supports both Windows and Mac devices. The software allows you to create, edit and convert PDF files with ease.
Whether you happen to be using a desktop PC, laptop or tablet, Acrobat lets you turn any paper document into a PDF file. You just have to snap a photo of the piece of paper and upload it to Adobe’s platform, then you can subsequently edit it. Acrobat also lets you convert PDFs into any Microsoft Office file format, preserving all fonts and formatting.
Thanks to integration with Excel, you can even edit data in scanned tables, making it easier to edit and analyze financial data. Just like Kdan Software’s PDF Reader Premium, you can keep track of the changes you and your colleagues make to PDF documents.
Acrobat is capable of detecting the differences between two versions of the same PDF, too. You can sign up for a business plan for £15.17 a month, which gives you the option to add more team members in the future.
A popular PDF editing suite
PDF Expert is a robust and easy-to-use solution for managing business documents. And with a four-and-a-half star rating in the Mac App Store, it seems to be one of the most popular options out there for Mac users. The software gives you the ability to read, edit and annotate PDF documents from a central dashboard.
One of the great things about PDF Expert is that it’s fast and slick to use. Thanks to smooth scrolling and a fast search function, you can quickly find what you’re looking for across multiple PDF files.
This app lets you edit images, text and links, plus the software can automatically detect fonts, size and opacity of writing. Plus, if you happen to own an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, you can add annotations and notes to documents on-the-go. Like most PDF apps out there, PDF Expert comes with a free download option, but the app for iPad/iPhone costs $9.99 and includes in-app purchases, while the version for Mac costs around $100 for 3 Macs.
A comprehensive document management suite
Wondershare has developed a Mac version of the popular PDFelement app, which is positioned as an easy way to edit PDF documents. It gives you the tools to add text, images, links, backgrounds, watermarks, headers and footers to PDF documents.
The software provides an extensive selection of PDF editing options. Not only can you add text to documents, but you can also tweak the font type, size and style. There’s the ability to rotate, extract, replace and crop images too.
PDFelement is a great option for teams in particular, with powerful collaborative capabilities, letting you add sticky notes, comments, text boxes and more. And you can use the tool to fill out business documents such as contracts and tax forms. PDFelement retails at $49.95 for the standard package, but for all features you will need the Professional package priced at $79.99.