How to Edit PDF Without Adobe — Time to Save Pennies

Paperwork never waits. And the good news is, you can handle your documentation without the help from Adobe Acrobat that charges up to $25 every month for its Pro plan.
Of course, this package has some really neat features like cross-platform support, difference review or converting scanned pics into editable texts.

But what if you’re on a budget and need PDFs for, let’s say, college work or job application? Luckily, there’s a good deal of apps that mimic Acrobat’s central features.

Some offer a way smaller subscription price, while others are freemium and won’t charge you a dime for their more than basic functionality. So, we’ve made a selection of the top 5 Adobe Acrobat alternatives for you.

On the list, you’ll find both humble and more advanced options. For instance, PFDMate is free, but it does very little aside from converting documents. Meanwhile, PDFLiner is a monstrous tool, which allows editing PDFs from any device with its impressive feature palette.

PDFLiner — The Top Gun

Platforms: All

Price: From $10/month

PDFLiner is a versatile and cheap online service for editing PDFs. Since it’s a service and not software, it’s not strictly tied to any platform. If your device has an internet connection, you’re good to go with PDFLiner and do the job wherever you are.

Here’s what you can do with your PDFs:

  • Filling out. Be it a scholarship application, employment document or an obligatory legal form, you can fill it out right here, right now. A spellchecker will help you avoid mistypes.
  • Editing. You can protect your doc with a watermark and encryption, annotate it or add extra fillable fields/columns. Making doodles on it is also an option if it’s necessary for the project.
  • Workflow. After editing is complete, share it with your colleagues instantly.

Besides, PDFLiner guards the legitimacy of your paperwork. Here you can create a unique electronic signature to sign all of your papers, so no forgery will be possible. And if you’ve never heard of it, PDFLiner has a tutorial on how to sign digital docs.

As an extra bonus, there is a caboodle of free fillable forms to use. So, if you need to evaluate an employee’s performance, file quarterly taxes or request financial assistance as a community college student — all of these docs are stashed here.

To start working, simply click on the 'Upload Document' button. Or just drag-&-drop it. PDFLiner supports PDF plus JPG and PNG formats. After that, feel free to edit all you want.

PDFLiner charges from $10 a month — much less than Adobe does. But also, if you want to try before investing, you will get 10 days of service for free.

Infix PDF Editor 7 — Almost Like Word

Platforms: macOS & Windows

Price: $100/year

Infix PDF Editor 7 is a flexible PDF editor that also mimics some features from MS Word. It has a wealth of features, among which you’ll find:

  • Spellchecker. It supports 15 languages, including UK and US English.
  • Translation. TransPDF will help you deal with all languages, including the most exotic.
  • Editing. You can change fonts, colors, add pictures, highlight sentences and excerpts, and so on.
  • Collaborating. PDFs can be shared and commented on.

Couple it with an interface that mimes a bit older versions of MS Word, and you’ll get a powerful, intuitive and responsive tool.

A major drawback is that Infix lacks mobility. It’s exclusively tied to the desktop. So, if it’s not a Mac or Windows computer that you’re working on, you’re in bad luck.

Another unfavorable detail is that all your documents will be branded with the app’s watermark if you run the trial version. (Not all PDF services force it on your documentation in the demo regime).

Nitro Pro — Supersonic Workflow

Platforms: Windows

Price: from $159

Nitro Pro is an impressive service that allows you to handle documentation of all types, including PDFs. It is more of a corporate tool, so unless you’re running big projects with teams starting at 20 people — you can pass on it.

With Nitro Pro, you can create PDFs from scratch, giving them a unique design straight from your vision. But i’s not just templates with fields and running head we’re talking about. There’s much more:

  • Graphics. You can add photos, infographics, pie charts and all types of visuals to your docs. Even better: you can merge an already existing PDF with another document to save time.
  • Multiformat. Nitro Pro knows how to convert PowerPoint and Excel files to PDF as well.
  • Security. All sensitive info can be shielded with a password, encryption and redacting. Plus, you can protect your project from false data using an e-signature.

Besides, Nitro Pro supports OCR. It’s a know-how that magically turns scans into editable and searchable documents. So, if you have a stash of very important papers, you just have no time to type in Google Docs manually — Nitro is at your service.

However, there’s a serious shortcoming. Nitro Pro is exclusively available for Windows. So, if a quick edit from your phone/tablet is all you what to do, look elsewhere.

PDFMate — Simple & Laconic

Platforms: macOS & Windows

Price: Freemium

PDFMate isn’t just one app, but rather a whole ecosystem of services that specialize in doc-editing and file management. Namely, PDFMate’s main gimmick is converting PDFs and other formats.

And this is what the application truly shines at! There’s basically no major documentation format that escapes from PDFMate’s clutches. Here you can convert:

  • E-books.
  • Kindle Books.
  • MS Word files.
  • EPUB, TXT, DOC, IMG, HTML,SWF.

And even JPG pictures are on the menu. Apart from converting, you can also protect your PDFs with a password in case someone might snoop around. The OCR is also included, and you can digitize the physical papers. But the free version sets a three-page limit.

Another neat tool here is the PDF merger. As you’ve already guessed, it allows blending multiple PDFs into one potent documentation broth to save your time. But you can arrange pages the way you like to avoid the mess.

Besides, Merger is good at protecting sensitive and important info. You can encrypt it for copying, editing or printing. And, if there’s any threat of espionage, set a password.

With all that good stuff, PDFMate is free. But it sets serious limitations on its costless functionality. So, if you work with documents often, your workflow risks getting seriously hampered.

PDFMate supports both macOS and Windows. The good news is that it still runs on such oldies as XP and Vista. Meanwhile, for Mac, you will need at least Mac OS X 10.6 to make it work. Unfortunately, mobile devices aren't supported. (Online editing is not an option either).

PDF Reader Pro — Versatile Beast

Platforms: All

Price: from $59.99

PDF Reader Pro is a steamroller of an app, all thanks to its cornucopia of features. Basically, you can do anything with your PDFs using Reader Pro: from editing to filling and signing.

For starters, it has a wealth of arrangement features. You can numerate, reverse, swap pages, rotate images, design documents, insert backgrounds — books, booklets, handouts, presentations — according to your vision.

Reader Pro understands numerous formats: JPEG, JPG, PNG, TIFF, BMP and PSD. So, if you prefer doing the majority of the creative work in another application, like Photoshop or Pixelmator, Reader Pro will let you smoothly transition to finalizing your creation.

Then we have a stack of useful tech features. With this app, you can:

  • Insert hyperlinks.
  • Add Bates numbering.
  • Customize PDF stamps.
  • Quickly split huge pages into a cluster of smaller ones.
  • Design documents straight from a scanner or mobile device.

Converting other formats to PDF is also on the plate. To save time, you can instantly turn a PDF to a PowerPoint presentation, TIFF file, Excel spreadsheet or JPEG/PNG images.

OCR is also present. So, if you have an old family biscotto recipe or a stash of bank receipts you would like to digitize — Reader Pro can take care of it all. And of course, when all work is finished, you can put an e-signature to validate the document.

All this luxury comes at a price, though. License will charge you from $60 for a Standard package. There’s a free version as well, but its limits are so ridiculously tight — about 10 pages — you won’t do much with it.

Adios, Acrobat! 

As you can see, Adobe Acrobat isn’t the holy grail of the PDF format. At least not anymore: our selection will do a stellar job at handling your documents.

Especially our top pick PDFLiner. It’s dirt cheap, flexible, available anywhere and anytime, compatible with all systems. No to mention its features: security encryption, e-signing, collaborative tools, easy editing, and so on.

Hopefully, our guide will help you end the PDF quest. Use it to save time, money and your nerves while dealing with paperwork.
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