PDF documents are ones that are viewed in the same way no matter what device you're using. They don't rely on application software that may not come preinstalled on your device, so can be viewed by anyone. They're a great way to save on printing and paper and can be made editable if desired.

But which programme do you use to edit PDF files? With so many choices we wouldn't blame you for finding it difficult to decide which one to use. We've rounded up five of the best to help make the decision a whole lot easier.

PDFelement 6 for Mac by PDFelement focuses on PDF document solutions. It comes with a variety of useful features that combine editing, creating, converting, annotating, password protecting and signing. It has a clean and easy-to-use interface, and Microsoft Word fans in particular will feel right at home and shouldn't have too many problems picking up and learning the features.

You can create a PDF from scratch and edit it just as you would a Word document, or you can load an already created PDF document with a simple click of the 'edit' button. You can load up Word, Excel and PowerPoint files too, so you're not limited to just PDFs.  

Here's a closer look at PDFelement's user interface:

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The homepage provides quick access to the various features of PDFelement, everything is clearly laid out and easy to find.

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PDFelement 6 provides a simple document browsing interface with easy-to-find tools 

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When in editing mode, PDFelement allows you to change the text and images, and you can easily retain the layout of the original document using the line and paragraph editing feature.

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The page organisation screen lets you move pages around within a document, add new pages or even delete ones you don't need anymore. 

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PDFelement also provides rich annotation features, such as highlighting areas of text, putting a strikethrough through others, or drawing and circling points of interest. 

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If the document you're creating is of high importance, then you can put a password on it to make sure it's not available to everyone. You can have separate passwords to allow others to view and to edit your PDF document.

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PDFelement provides a wealth of document conversion formats, such as Microsoft Office, Pages, ePub and many. Documents can even be converted to ones that can be easily shared on social media.

Pros:

  • Editing experience is similar to that of Microsoft Office software
  • Powerful PDF conversion
  • Clear interface 
  • Wide compatibility 
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Interface details need to be optimised further

Price: $59.95 (one-time fee)

Click here to download PDFelement 6 for Mac

PDFelement also offers a more in-depth version of its PDF editing software called PDFelement 6 Pro for Mac. It commands an extra £30 over the regular version, costing £86 but adds a range of extra features. 

PDFelement 6 Pro comes with all the same basic functions as the regular version, such as editing text and adding images, but the extra features include being able to turn non-fillable forms from Word, Excel or other Office applications into fillable PDF forms, all by clicking a single button. The Pro version can also be used to create PDFs from all manner of file types, including .rft and .txt text files.

Another feature that is only available with the Pro version of PDFelement 6 is being able to create and edit PDF files from scanned documents and if you're a business looking to get software for an entire company, Wondershare can offer the Pro version with a volume discount.

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The Pro version of PDFelement adds a redact function, which lets you delete hidden information as well as a PDF/A file save mode. The preservation of PDF/A ensures you keep the original formatting even if the document is viewed and edited several times after. This is particularly useful in law-related professions.

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PDFelement 6 Pro provides form field creation and property modification features, while also supporting automatic recognition of form fields and bulk data extraction. These all help to improve the data processing speed.

Pros:

  • Bulk form data extraction
  • Batch PDF custom tag data extraction
  • Accurate OCR scanned document recognition

Price: $99.95 (one-time fee)  

Click here to download PDFelement 6 Pro for Mac

Adobe, the company responsible for many professional work tools and even inventing the PDF, has its own editing programme called Acrobat DC. 

DC stands for Document Cloud, and it means you can save your files in the cloud so you can take them wherever you go, and they can be accessed by others for collaboration. Acrobat DC is a subscription based service, with prices starting from £13.14 per month. However that version is for Windows only, for Mac (and the Pro version), you'll need to pay £15.17 per month.

Either version of Acrobat includes Adobe Scan, a mobile app that lets you scan any document using your smartphone camera and convert it to PDF, while a compare files tool lets you view two versions of the same PDF side-by-side to easily spot any differences. 

Adobe Acrobat DC also offers e-signing capabilities on more than a billion devices, so if you've got a PDF that needs a signature on it, Acrobat DC will be able to help you out. Over a 12 month period, Adobe Acrobat costs over £100 more than the standard version of PDFelement 6 for Mac and doesn't offer many exclusive features.

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The main interface of Acrobat has clearly defined left, middle and right columns that help to make PDF processing quick and easy.

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In editing mode, you can quickly change text and images, and if it's a scanned document, OCD will automatically detect it and convert it to an editable document. You can also add watermarks, headers and footers and change the background of the document when editing.

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You're able to leave comments on text in Acrobat, but the property settings are well hidden and tricky to find (select the added comment>right click>property settings)

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With Adobe Acrobat, you can call upon a wide range of form fields for fast interactive form creation

Pros:

  • Fully functional, product stability
  • Quick document comparison function
  • Form field automatic recognition 
  • Create PDFs with Office compatibility
  • High compatibility, high professionalism 

Cons:

  • Some features hidden deep within the software
  • Expensive
  • Bloated features

Price: £15.17 per month

Click here to download Adobe Acrobat DC

PDF Expert is one of Readdle's premium apps, which was a leader in PDF processing on iOS. The Mac version launched in 2015 to great reviews and a high recommendation from Apple's editors.

It demands a one-off payment of £55, but with it, you can change the reading settings of PDF document to help give your eyes a rest, with day, night and sepia filters available to choose from.

It's also easy to search for and within documents using the comprehensive search tool and you can even annotate documents. If you happen to be editing on an iPad Pro, you can even use the Apple Pencil.

When editing text on a Mac, PDF Expert will automatically detect the font, size and opacity so you can simply replace any text and, like many of the other editors, you can use it to sign documents digitally. Edited PDFs can be uploaded to all manner of cloud storage drives, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, where they can be accessed by others to carry on working. 

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PDF Expert has a much more stylish interface than the other editors in this list, helping it to stand out against the competition

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With PDF Expert, you're able to add comments to and annotate documents

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The page layout screen clearly shows the order of pages within a PDF file. From here, you can adjust the order, add new pages or delete unwanted ones

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PDF Expert offers simple text and image editing functions, and it also has a helpful function that lets you remove hidden information

Pros:

  • Easy to use with good user interface
  • Fast page organising function
  • Smooth annotation when adding and editing features
  • Simple text and image editing functions
  • PDF flattening

Cons:

  • Few functional modules
  • PDF compatibility could be improved

Price: $59.99

Click here to download PDF Expert

Preview is the pre-installed tool that comes with every Apple Mac. While it's primarily used to view images, it can also be used to view and edit PDFs.

The number of editing functions isn't as vast as the other editors on this list, but it can be used to highlight text, add various shapes and add in notes. You can also add a digital signature using Preview, either via a connected trackpad, or by writing it on paper and holding it up to the Mac's built-in camera.

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Pros:

  • Pre-installed, free
  • Multi-format view
  • Fast comment annotation function
  • Quick thumbnail drag and drop feature
  • Quick camera recognition of handwritten signatures

Cons:

  • Poor PDF compatibility
  • No PDF content editor