A list of the top PDF editors, both paid and free 2023

Best Adobe Acrobat alternatives (January 2023): paid and free PDF editors
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Best Adobe Acrobat alternatives (January 2023): paid and free PDF editors

Try the best Adobe Acrobat alternatives for editing PDFs

he best Adobe Acrobat alternatives offer advanced PDF editing capabilities that rival the best PDF editor

Adobe Acrobat DC has long been the go-to PDF editing software – for the very good reason that Adobe invented the PDF format. The filetype allowed true document standardization. No matter what device you viewed the file, it would appear the same to all users. 

Today, there are plenty of premium and free PDF editors offering many of the same useful tools and features you’ll find in Adobe’s premiere PDF editing tool, including eSign software and OCR software. So, you’re looking to improve efficiency, productivity, and faster workflows without taking out a Creative Cloud subscription, finding the best alternatives to Adobe Acrobat is essential. 

To help you identify the right tools, we’ve tested, reviewed, and rated the best Adobe Acrobat alternatives to see where the competition matches, thrashes, and misses Acrobat’s power. 


1. Foxit PDF Editor


Best Adobe Acrobat alternative overall

Foxit PDF Editor is a stellar substitute for Adobe Acrobat.  Like Adobe, Foxit has been offering PDF tools for decades, and users can take confidence from the many high-profile endorsements proudly listed on the Foxit site, with the likes of Amazon, Google, Dell, and Intel among them. 

The company’s best Adobe Acrobat alternative, Foxit PDF Editor, offers dozens of useful features. This includes watermarking, adding headers and footers, tailoring password permissions, creating templates, and converting other documents to PDFs. One neat feature is being able to drag files of other formats – such as converting Excel to PDF or using the PowerPoint to PDF converter

In our Foxit PDF Editor review, we felt it might not offer enough value to casual users, but the multi-platform PDF editor app was great for businesses who regularly need to manipulate, edit, redact, annotate, and alter PDF documents.

Indeed, the redaction tools were a special highlight for us. We were impressed with how easily they worked, thoroughly scrubbing sensitive data from documents .The feature is a boon for compliant-conscious teams who understand the importance of adhering to global data laws. 

Pricing for Foxit PDF Editor is flexible, with monthly and yearly subscriptions. If on-going payments are one of the reasons you’re looking for the best Adobe Acrobat alternatives, there’s the opportunity to pick up a perpetual license for a one-off purchase.

You’ll also find two upgraded versions of the PDF editing software – Pro and Pro + – which add additional features for power-users.

2. PDF24 Creator

Best free Adobe Acrobat alternative

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Best free Adobe Acrobat alternative
PDF24 Creator isn’t just one of the best Adobe Acrobat alternatives for Windows – it’s also our top pick for best free PDF editor overall. 
Despite the no-cost approach, the tool – a PC-only desktop app that works offline and is ideal for low-spec PCs – is surprisingly feature-rich. 
During our time with the software, we rated it as “one of the best examples of free tools that go above and beyond. It’s packed full of features, and comes with everything you might need to create and edit a PDF document.”
Tools for PDF creation, compressing, merging, and converting are all present and results are grand. Extras like OCR and eSign are well-implemented. The interface is clean and fresh and emphasizes productivity – you can quickly find what you need and what to do. 
We even felt it bested Adobe in one area. Praising Acrobat for its inclusion of tools for almost use-cases, we noted, “the only exception is if you need something more advanced for filling out forms, in which case an editor like PDF24 Creator or PDFZilla could work better, despite looking a bit clunkier.”
PDF24 Creator is available free and unlimited. The experience might not quite match Adobe’s fluid workflow, but it’s a price you can’t beat.

3. LightPDF

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LightPDF User Interface. Image credit: LightPDF

A great Acrobat alternative that is available both online and offline

LightPDF is a full-fledged PDF software and browser-based app that is available on the website, desktop, and your mobile devices. LightPDF emphasizes powering up your work and improving your productivity without exerting much time and effort. This is why it offers highly-developed features like PDF conversion, digital signature, annotation, password-protect, OCR, merge, split, and more.

With LightPDF, you can collaborate with your team and colleagues in the most efficient way. It has a sleek interface that is beginner user-friendly and organizes your documents with its cloud-based services. Also, you can share your files and make real-time edits by sending links via email or any social media platform.

Following are the details about LightPDF pricing.

Personal Subscription – $19.90 per month/ $59.90 per year
Business Subscription – $70.95 per month/ $129.90 per year

4. PDF Studio

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Image credit: Qoppa

Most intuitive Acrobat alternative

PDF Studio is regarded as one of the best and closest alternatives to Adobe Acrobat. It is a full-featured PDF editor offering full compatibility with PDF Standard and is supported on Windows, Mac, and Linux OS.

Some of the key features of PDF Studio include annotations, full text search, side-by-side comparison, watermarking, forms management, OCR, e-signature, and merge or append files.

Overall, it is a robust and affordable PDF editor across operating systems. The PDF Studio Standard is priced at a one-time fee of $89 while the PDF Studio Pro would cost you a one-time fee of $129.

5. Sejda

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Image credit: Sejda

Best in premium features for free

Sejda is one of the rare PDF editors that offer premium features in its free version. It offers PDF edits on documents up to 200 pages long or 50 MB in size. However, quite obviously, the free version has some restrictions. You can only work on one document at a time and 3 tasks per hour.

Some of the pretty cool free features Sejda bets on are its editing and signing PDf file capabilities. Other notable features include changing and adding text to PDF, editing existing PDF text, adding images, creating links in PDF, annotation, and adding hyperlinks.

Overall, it offers pretty much all the basic PDF editing features as Acrobat. Nonetheless, you might face issues when editing a PDF with a unique font style. It is still an above-average free PDF editor given the wide range of features it offers.

To use Sejda to its full potential, you might want to buy a personal or teams & volume discounts plan. Web Week Pass is available for $5 for 7 days while the Web Monthly plan is priced at $7.50 per month. For access to Sejda Desktop software, you will have to buy the Desktop+Web Annual plan costing $63 billed annually.

6. SwifDoo PDF

SwifDoo PDF
Image credit: SwifDoo

Best lightweight PDF editor

SwifDoo PDF is a lightweight PDF editor  with powerful features to  edit files without  technical knowledge. You may use the tool to create or remove signatures, encrypt or decrypt PDF files, add or delete watermarks, add customized elements, extract TOC, compress the file, merge/split PDF pages, change the file’s structure/formatting, and  more. SwifDoo’s simple conversion tool makes it  easier for you to convert your PDF files into different formats like HTML documents or Word documents.

As the tool uses minimal system resources, it is a perfect program that runs on any low-spec PC , which is something that Adobe Acrobat isn’t capable of. SwifDoo is updated regularly to fix any bugs or technical issues. As for the pricing, it offers a free trial for the functionality and affordable paid plans , making it a great pick for editors and standard computer users.

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7. DocuSign

Docusign. Image credit: Docusign

Adobe Acrobat Pro though impressive maybe not be the most suitable option for most. And for those working with a budget, DocuSign is a great Adobe Acrobat alternative. 

With the DocuSign app, your documents can be easily accessed and signed remotely. for people on the go who may require instant access to their files, this can be quite convenient.

Besides this, documents that are sensitive have an option for required credentials. DocuSign automatically saves all your documents so that you do need not to save them manually. You can also sign electronically with any device using the DocuSign app, making it accessible to all users.

So when it comes to avoiding trouble with paperwork and providing your signature on a variety of articles, DocuSign is one of the best acrobat alternatives to opt for.

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