13 Best Free PDF Editors for Windows 10 and Mac

There are many PDF editing programs out there which come in a variety of features. It would be great to have a PDF editor that is not only able to manipulate text, but also graphics and images. It is not easy to come across a PDF editor that is entirely free while providing decent features but there are (at least for the average user needs). Also considering the fact that a majority of satisfactory PDF editors are confined to premium versions.

If you are looking to save a dime, not to worry because we have listed some of the best free PDF editors. Although they may not come with fancy functionalities, they are still worth it. Despite being free, some of the programs we have listed can be upgraded to premium versions in case you are looking for more out of it. But the free versions are well suited for the average business or individual use. If you don’t use a certain feature, no need to pay for it.

List of the Best Free PDF Editor Software for Windows 10 and Mac 2019

Before we start, the following are the items the user is looking for in a typical PDF editor:

Convert and create PDF files: Should be able to convert office files to PDF like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc. Make sure your editor of choice supports at least .doc or Docx files.

Editing and formatting: A PDF editor should come with basic editing features for text, images, and graphics. They include digital signature, insertion, annotation, alignment, drag/drop and much more.

OCR (Optical Character Recognition): This feature allows users to convert scanned hard copy files into PDF. I consider this feature above average because I wouldn’t need it myself. Good for businesses dealing with too much paperwork and is looking to upgrade to electronic PDF docs.

While we recommend these programs, not all of them will have each feature highlighted above. We have also included SaaS programs that are good. These are the ones that are cloud-based and accessible via your browser. Enough talk, let’s get into it.

1. PDFelement

PDFelement has made it to the top of our list thanks to its creator Wondershare which is a renowned company with cool products in the market. This program comes with a lot of features. Unlike other PDF editors, it is very smooth and fast. You will barely notice any lag while performing a certain task. Apart from that, it features Optical Character recognition, PDF merging, templates, editing/ formatting, commenting, spell check and much more.

Trust me this is just an overview. PDFelement packs all the basic features and a lot more. Not to mention you can instantly export form data into excel which traditionally would requires you to have solid knowledge in JavaScript. With this program, you can work on the text like you would in Microsoft Word.

Pros

  • Fast and smooth operation
  • Robust editing features
  • Can create PDF from scratch
  • Can create fillable forms
  • Supports merging two or more PDFs into one
  • Supports OCR
  • Multiplatform support
  • Digital signature
  • Insert, delete and rotate pages

Cons

  • The free version places a watermark on the PDF

Price:

  • Free but the minimum premium package is $129

Available for:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Android

2. Sejda PDF Editor

Sejda PDF is another great PDF editor out there. You can interact with this program in two ways, Sejda web or Sejda desktop. Sejda web has a few distinct features from the desktop client. Like it allows users to link office files that are stored in Google Drive or Dropbox. Although the desktop client notably has more features than the online version but doesn’t support adding files from a URL.

Sejda features various file types to PDF conversion and vice versa. One cool feature is that it allows you to convert a PDF file into a JPG file. This greatly restricts information copying since you can’t copy text from an image. Sejda also allows users to repair damaged PDF files and get rid of errors that restrict the user from viewing. It even supports HTML to PDF conversions. Most editors will typically restrict you to office files but this one has gone a step further.

Pros

  • Can be accessed on your browser in case you do not want the desktop client
  • Supports OCR
  • The free version is absolutely free, forever
  • File size optimization by compressing
  • Excellent editing features
  • The free version does not include watermarks when saving files

Cons

  • PDF editing is restricted to 50MB or less
  • You can only work on three PDFs and hour
  • Limited to 200 pages and below

Price:

  • Free but the minimum premium package is $5

Available for:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux

3. PDF Xchange

PDF Xchange from Tracker Software comes packed with a lot of free features than any other free PDF editor. The text editing features for PDF Xchange is almost close to that of a word processor. For example, it includes spell checking during editing. MS word files can be viewed natively then you can convert it to PDF without any hustle.

They recently added support for Google Drive and multi-language for OCR. You will be astonished to find out that they provide OCR as a free features to its users. It also supports integrating third-party plug-ins such as translation programs. Other handy features include text extraction, measurement tools, export PDF to image, etc.

Pros

  • Feature-rich functionalities
  • Comprehensive security and encryption capabilities
  • Supports OCR
  • The free version is completely free

Cons

  • Only compatible with Windows platform

Price:

  • Free but the minimum premium package is €37

Available for:

  • Windows

4. ApowerPDF

ApowerPDF is not only a PDF editor but also able to create one using blank documents. One of the bonus points that I would give to this program is about its interface which has a minimalist design. This makes it easy to use and navigate. In case you don’t require the desktop client, you can launch ApowerPDF online.

This tool features text editing, merging, inserting images, page editing, adding watermarks, etc. Not forgetting it supports conversion of image and word formats into PDF. HTML, PPT, and Excel are also supported.

Pros

  • Supports OCR; Image to PDF conversion
  • Simple to use interface
  • Comprehensive text and graphics editing tools
  • Can create PDF from scratch
  • Works with multiple file formats

Cons

  • Requires a browser plugin

Price:

  • Free but the premium package is $39

Available for:

  • Windows
  • All major web browsers

5. DeftPDF

DeftPDF gives you an all-in-one solution that does not require any subscription or native installation. The only installation that you can do is integrating a browser plug-in but it is not required. If you want to experience more, go ahead and get the plug-in for your browser. Despite being free, their website is very professional. They also include simple to follow tutorials. For that reason, this solution has topped our list of online PDF editors. Not to mention, it is among the programs ranked top by Source Forge.

One cool feature about DeftPDF is users can compress edited files before downloading. It allows users to add new text, edit existing text, add images, fill out forms, add and edit hyperlinks, add shapes, annotation and much more. You can open PDF files stored on your computer or from a URL. DeftPDF native app is only available for Mac.

Pros

  • No feature lockdown
  • It can create PDF files from scratch by starting out with a blank document
  • Easy to use interface
  • It includes a comprehensive user guide
  • Allows users to convert PDF to JPG

Cons

  • Does not support OCR

Price:

  • Absolutely free

Available for:

  • Mac
  • All major browsers

Click here to see the best free movie apps

6. PDF Buddy

PDF Buddy falls among the best online PDF editors. This option does not require software to be installed locally. They actually don’t have the desktop client since the features provided via the cloud are quite comprehensive. One thing that will distinguish PDF Buddy from the rest is that it offers 1GB cloud storage for the free version and 25GB for the premium version.

This solution features PDF editing, merging, adding a digital signature, splitting, AES-256 bit encryption, etc. Furthermore, PDF Buddy is capable of creating PDF from scratch using its fillable forms. When it comes to text formatting, this cloud service has done quite a good job. You can easily copy and paste text from any text file and then carry out formatting without a sweat.

Pros

  • Comes with a lot of features
  • No feature lockdown
  • Nice web interface that is easy to use
  • Does not restrict file size and pages

Cons

  • Free option only allows editing three PDF a month

Price:

  • Free but the minimum premium package is $7.99

Available for:

  • All platforms since it is compatible with major browsers

7. PDFescape

PDFescape packs some nice features since it focuses on PDFs only. They have both desktop and cloud versions. But here is the line, the cloud-based version is the one that is free while the desktop version is premium but at a very affordable price. Although the cloud version is completely free, it has a few limitations. For example, the PDF file has to be less than 10MB in size and with 100 pages or less.

PDFescape features multiple file type support, create PDF from scratch, Export/Import, view and edit a pre-existing PDF file. The premium version adds more professional features such as image editing, digital signature, advanced PDF forms, merge and much more. Not forgetting, it allows users to load PDF from a URL. If you choose the free version, you will have to deal with some occasional ads but it won’t interfere with your work.

Pros

  • Let’s users create PDF from scratch
  • Has advanced features
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • The free version has less text formatting features

Price:

  • Free but the minimum premium package is $2.99

Available for:

  • Windows
  • Compatible with major browsers

8. FormSwift

Here is another online PDF editor that you might consider. FormSwift provides three main functionality for editing PDFs i.e. JPG to PDF conversion, PDF editing and PDF to word conversion. Although the features are a bit on the light side, they fit an average user. FormSwift allows users to format and edit the text just as you would in Word processors. Images can also be inserted and moved to achieve the desired layout.

Apart from the three main functionalities, FormSwift lets you convert image documents using your phone and sign it quickly. At times you may experience problems when converting a pdf file to Docx. You may also notice a few alterations in the layout.

Pros

  • Supports Optical Character Recognition which is free
  • Has a simple interface that is easy to use
  • Allows users to insert images, overlays, and shapes
  • Does not put watermarks

Cons

  • It is not able to recognize PDFs that were created from scanned images

Price:

  • Free but the minimum premium package is $1.95

Available for:

  • All platforms since it is compatible with all major browsers

9. MS word

Not many Windows users have discovered the PDF editing features in Microsoft’s word processor. In fact, do you know that PDF files can be opened with MS Word? Just right-click on the file then select open with Word. MS word does not open the file in PDF format, what happens is that it takes a moment to convert the contents into an editable word document. Including the images and graphics. If you have excellent skills in MS word, then this is ideal.

We all know MS word is able to edit pages, text, images, and graphics. With all these features, you can practically do anything in terms of layout and editing. When saving, export your finished doc file to PDF. It is not a good idea to open files that have been created using a different program. This is because after conversion the doc file will not look the same as the PDF. Preferably work with PDF files you had previously created using MS word or ones containing fewer graphics.

Pros

  • Has a lot of editing features for both text and graphics
  • All-in-one editing for PDF and doc files
  • Editing is fast and smooth
  • No feature lockdown

Cons

  • The layout may be altered after conversion
  • Only available for Windows users
  • Takes quite some time when converting PDF file to doc file. Especially files with many pages (>50) and too much graphics.

Price:

  • Comes with Windows Office

Available for:

  • Windows

10. Ableword

 

Ableword traditionally comes as a word processor but is capable of handling PDF files. This software fully features all text editing capabilities like any other word processor. They include, spell checking, image formatting, header & footer, inserting tables, etc. Coupled with the PDF editing feature, this program provides unstoppable PDF editing functionalities. This is a great alternative for Microsoft word.

If you looking not to spend at all then this is it. The program is free even for commercial use. Ableword can read and manipulate a variety of file types i.e. Docx, doc, RTF, pdf, HTML, txt, and htm. Just like MS Word, it converts the existing PDF to editable doc format and vice versa. All these file types can be exported to PDF.

Pros

  • Comprehensive editing tools
  • No feature lockdown
  • Supports various files when it comes to reading and writing
  • Supports export to HTML

Cons

  • Has not been updated for a while. Last update was 2015
  • Can only import text from a PDF file when opening

Price:

  • Totally free

Available for:

  • Windows
  • Mac

11. Inkscape

Inkscape is an open-source software which means there are no subscriptions. It is similar to the likes of Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator. Although this software focuses more on graphics manipulation, it has some nice PDF functionalities. In fact, some of these functionalities will only be found in paid versions of other programs. Inkscape is ideal for coming up with PDFs that are have more graphics.

When it comes to PDF support, this program features file import, editing, spacing adjustment, copy/paste, etc. The nice thing about Inkscape is that you can export practically anything to PDF. Once you are done working on the contents (whether text, graphics or both) just export to PDF. Pre-existing PDF files can also be opened and edited as well.

Pros

  • Comprehensive editing tools especially for graphics
  • No feature lockdown
  • Supports various file types

Cons

  • May seem a bit technical to users who have no experience with graphics editors

Price:

  • Absolutely free

Available for:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux

12. Scribus

Scribus is another popular open-source PDF editor. It is released under GNU as free software. Despite being open-source, it is still under active development considering it was first commissioned in 2001. I would say this is the only free software that incorporates complex functionality for professional publishing. Text can practically be imported from ODT text documents, MS Word and HTML. It imports OTD files while still preserving paragraph style.

This software features PDF support functionalities such as annotation, encryption, interactive form fields, export to PDF, bookmarks, etc. Image-setting and text layout for Scribus is quite outstanding. The functionalities of Scribus are all-round apart from the PDF support. For example, vector graphics can be opened directly for editing.

Pros

  • Feature-rich functionalities for professional editing
  • No feature lockdown
  • Supports various files and bitmap formats
  • Multiplatform support

Cons

  • Its functionalities may seem a bit technical for some users.

Price:

  • Absolutely free

Available for:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux/UNIX

13. Skim

Another open-source PDF editor/ reader that should come to your attention is Skim. It is absolutely free while at the same time giving you some PDF functionalities right at your disposal. Although this one does not have some of the basic features, it still deserves some eye since it works well for the features it provides.

Skim features note-taking, smart page cropping, keychain password, etc. Note-taking is as far as it goes when it comes to text editing. This program is suited more for reading PDF files rather than writing.

Pros

  • Allows exporting
  • Supports annotation
  • Packs excellent PDF viewing features such as focus, spotlight, and snapshots for easy referencing
  • Can be integrated with BibDesk and other third party programs.

Cons

  • Has less editing features
  • Cannot create a PDF file from scratch

Price:

  • Absolutely free

Available for:

  • Mac

Conclusion

It is evident that most of the high-end PDF editors are quite expensive. But here is my advice; if you want to set up a professional publishing venture, most of the software we have listed here won’t be of much help. What we have included here is for just for light editing which is suited for personal use.

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