(Pocket-lint) - If you've ever been sent a PDF to fill out then you know what a hassle it can be. You've either got to print the document, complete it by hand then scan it back onto your machine to send it back or find a decent PDF editor to get the job done.
PDFs are secure, but they can also be troublesome. Yet you'll often find yourself in the position of having to edit one, whether it's to complete various fields or just sign one. Application forms, NDA agreements, invoices, expense forms, PDFs come in all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, many PDF editing apps are either expensive or difficult to use, but it doesn't have to be that way.
We've done the legwork to find the easiest and best PDF editors to use in Windows to make your life easier.
- Website: Try PDFelement now free (here)
PDFelement is an easy-to-use PDF editor for Windows that offers a variety of useful features including the ability to edit, create, convert, annotate, password protect and sign PDF documents with ease.
This software includes a free trial of both the home and professional versions, the latter of which offers a number of extra features such as OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology, which allows you to edit/extract text from scanned PDF files
The first thing that struck us about PDFelement is the design of the user-interface. This software features a simple design with a user-friendly menu system.
The layout and menu system is immediately familiar and bears a striking resemblance to Microsoft Office meaning if you already know your way around Word you'll soon get to grips with this editor.
The initial load screen gives you access to the ability to create, combine, edit or convert PDFs as well as giving you the ability to use a range of PDF templates to get you started.
These templates give you access to everything from business budgeting examples, to job application forms, purchase agreements, will and trust forms and much more besides. A very handy tool if you don't want to create something entirely from scratch.
Editing, design and tweaking tools
Once you've started with a PDF document, the editing tools come into play. These easy-to-find tools can be quickly accessed from the navigation ribbon.
With a few clicks, you can add or edit text, insert images, change backgrounds, apply header and footers to documents and much more besides.
You can do all this while also retaining the original document design and layout too using the line and paragraph editing feature. Meaning whatever you're doing it's fairly straightforward to create great looking PDFs.
With longer PDFs you can easily find the pages you need with the page navigation tool which gives you all the document easily viewable in one place.
Alternatively, you can use the bookmarks system to jump directly to another place in the document.
For collaborative documents, where multiple people are involved in the contents, PDFelement gives you access to tools that highlight specific areas in the document, apply stamps, include sticky notes for others to reference and more.
This sort of annotation system makes it much easier for several people within a team to work on documents without the need for unnecessary meetings to discuss the contents.
Where data in the document is sensitive in nature, you can also use the tools within this software to redact certain sections and add password protection.
You can put a password on it to make sure it's not available to everyone and you can even set different passwords to allow others to view and or edit and thereby restrict full access to certain users.
Other highlights include the ability to batch process PDF files, automatically recognise forms and optimise file size for sending.
PDFelement also has the power to batch process PDFs too. This allows small business users to quickly extract data from a mass of PDF forms and import it straight into editable spreadsheets.
The combination of batch scanning technology and OCR character recognition make this form scanning far easier, even when handling numerous documents. Which in turn improves efficiency and removes a lot of the manual leg-work that usually goes into handling these sorts of operations.
Convert multiple pages of PDF into one page of continuous pictures
Sometimes people need to use a multi-page PDF document to create something more shareable. PDFelement has a simple-to-use tool to convert several pages into a single image. These images can then be used for micro-blogs or as infographics, for example.
Screenshot tweaking and drag and drop
While editing documents, it's also possible to grab specific parts of the document and elements within it for editing without having to move and entire section. For example, you can use the screenshot functionality to capture part of an image, graph or table and copy that into another section with ease. That new element is treated as an image, so can easily be resized and adjusted on-the-fly according to your needs.
As well as screenshotting images you can also use drag and drop features with the PDF editor. This allows you to drag content from one PDF and drop it into another with ease and you can do this was with multiple documents too, making PDFelement a highly flexible PDF editing tool.
We found PDFelement to be a breeze to use - whether creating PDF documents from scratch, editing and improving pre-existing PDFs or just using the software to fill out forms. There's also easy-to-understand tutorials to help if you get stuck.
When you're finished editing your PDFs it's easy to export and share documents - whether by email, Dropbox, Google Drive or more. If necessary you can also convert PDFs into documents, images or text files too.
Whether you're a beginner or pro, you'll be able to edit PDFs right away with this editor. PDFelement includes a 30-day free trial - one of the longest trials available with the editors we've tested and the full paid versions are priced at just $79 or $159 depending on whether you choose the standard or professional version.
This PDF editor is compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 as well as macOS and is probably the best PDF.
- Similar design to Microsoft Office
- Powerful PDF conversion abilities
- Easy-to-use interface
- Wide compatibility with numerous file types
- Bulk form data extraction
- Batch PDF custom tag data extraction
- Accurate OCR scanned document recognition
- Lacks cloud functionality available with other editor
- Website: Try PDFelement now free (here)
2. Adobe Acrobat DC
- Website: Try Adobe Acrobat DC (here)
Adobe's Acrobat editor is one of the best-known PDF editing tools for Windows, mostly because the company was responsible for the creation of the file format back in 1993.
Adobe Acrobat Reader became the commonplace viewer, but Adobe is also well-known for its PDF editing tools. The latest of which is Adobe Acrobat DC. DC means "Document Cloud" and this feature of the software allows you to save your PDF files to the cloud so they can be viewed and accessed easily, anywhere, anytime.
While Adobe is a great PDF editor, because it lets you convert, edit, and annotate, among other functions, it may not be suitable for you if you just need to use a PDF editor occasional use because it is a subscription-based service.
Sure, it comes with a decent, friendly-user interface, as well as OCR technology, though it is a more expensive PDF editor when compared to other alternatives. Plus, it only has a 7-day free trial (for the Pro version only, which starts at $14.99 a month) which you'll need to cancel if you don't want to commit to the full annual payment. But if you're already familiar with Adobe software and don't mind the cost, it's definitely worth testing out Acrobat DC. It will, after all, let you create, sign, and share PDFs.
Mobile scanning functionality
Paying the monthly subscription cost has other benefits too. One of which is access to Adobe Scan, a mobile app that allows you to easily scan any document into the system using your phone cameras.
This app then converts scanned docs into PDF files that can be edited, tweaked or filled in with ease.
Easy electronic signature capabilities
Adobe Acrobat DC's e-signing feature is another highlight to this PDF editor - giving you the ability to add your signature to any PDF form or document when you need to.
Like PDFelement, Adobe Acrobat DC has an easily accessible user interface. PDF documents in this editor are front-and-centre with editing tools on either side for quick and easy processing and editing.
Editing mode allows you to easily change text, images and tweak documents according to your needs. For scanned documents, Adobe Acrobat DC also uses OCR technology to detect and convert to allow you to edit those too.
As with PDFelement you can also add watermarks, changed headers, adjust backgrounds and more.
You're able to leave comments for other users in this editor too, but we found this to be a bit less intuitive than in PDFelement.
In the end, Adobe Acrobat DC offers a powerful and flexible PDF editing suite - especially if you need to tweak, scan, edit and sign PDFs while you're out and about.
- Fully functional and stable product
- Quick document comparison function
- Form field automatic recognition
- Create PDFs with Office compatibility
- High compatibility with various formats
- Cloud save options
- Mobile app for scanning documents on the go
- Easy e-signature system
- Less user-friendly in places
- Some guidance may be necessary for more complicated tasks
- Expensive option compared with others
- Bloated features
- Only a 7-day free trial available with credit card details required beforehand
3. Foxit PhantomPDF
- Website: Try Foxit PhantomPDF (here)
PhantomPDF is a very capable PDF editor for Windows. It offers all the basic functions, as well as the ability to merge and split PDFs, annotate and share, create forms and convert to other file formats and more. You can also add encryption, redact and sign them too. There's an OCR function if you need it. If you want to try it out before buying, there is a trial of 14 days available but you need to create an account or give the company your details.
Navigation and user interface
Like PDFelement, Foxit's PhantomPDF has an easy-to-use interface that's fairly intuitive. It also has a similar ribbon based menu system similar to office, but it's not quite as feature packed.
We did like the navigation when working with larger PDFs, where an index panel appears alongside the document you're viewing and allows you to easily jump to the relevant spot in the document.
Commenting and collaborating
We found PhantomPDF to be a bit less powerful when it comes to editing capabilities for pre-existing documents, but where it does shine is commenting and collaboration tasks.
It's really easy to highlight sections, add comments, notes or stamp sections where you need to.
PhantomPDF's sharing capabilities include the ability to easily share completed documents and there's also a cloud functionality built right into the system too - allowing you to access documents where ever you need them.
Phantom PDF comes in three versions: standard, business, and education. And the standard version is $109 in a one-time payment. But they all support Windows, so that's handy. Subscriptions and purchases of PhantomPDF also include access to the online cloud-based editor which allows you to edit wherever you are, even if you don't have access to the machine you installed the software on.
- Various versions available for standard, business and educational use
- 14-day free trial available
- Includes encryption capabilities for secure document transfer
- Cloud-based editor available
- An ecological closed-loop system based on cloud, which is beneficial to large enterprises
- Fast document editing and rendering capabilities
- Less user-friendly in places and slightly complex interface
- Verging on being a bit expensive.
4. Nuance Power PDF
- Website: Try Nuance Power PDF
The Nuance Power PDF editor offers the ability to convert, annotate, edit, and add encryption to your PDF documents. But the stand-out feature of this software is its voice note recognition technology, which makes it possible to add notes to your PDF files by simply speaking them instead of typing them out. In the age of Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant, the ability to dictate is certainly a welcome feature.
Navigation and editing
Power PDF is another PDF editor with a well-designed user interface. The same ribbon navigation system is present and easy to use.
There's a mass of tools here that make editing a breeze. Navigating through long documents is also easy with an index system that includes a visual representation of the pages within the document in thumbnail form. It's easy to find the right page and get there in a flash.
You can also choose to split the view and fit multiple pages into the window so you can access and edit several pages in the document at once.
Before documents can be edited they need to be converted, which can take some time and we found this occasionally caused the software to crash.
Highlights of this editor's abilities include the option to enhance images within the document with filters, adjust transparency and tweak size on the fly.
Security and certification
As well as voice recognition technology, Power PDF has a focus on security. This PDF editor includes numerous tools for securing documents and ensuring safe sending.
This sort of security, as well as DRM protection, offers another level of security and peace of mind for businesses too.
This PDF editor also has a handwritten signature feature which allows you to add your official signature to documents and works with touch-screen devices for accurate signature replication.
Nuance Power PDF is one of the most expensive solutions in comparison to other PDF editing alternatives we've seen. The price, likely due to the voice note recognition technology, starts at $149 and climbs up if you want a volume license. Still, it is powerful and unique, and it is compatible with all the latest Windows versions, including Windows 10.
Nuance Power PDF includes a 30-day free trial so you can test it out before you commit.
- Powerful voice recognition and reading systems
- 30-day free trial option
- Various security features include DRM protection, document cleaning settings and secure delivery options
- Easy-to-use interface
- Sometimes struggles with larger documents
- One of the more expensive options
- Website: Try HiPDF
If you're not too keen on downloading software and want to try an online editor instead then HiPDF is an alternative. This is a free PDF editing tool available to use inside the browser.
It comes with a surprising number of features and that is capable of numerous tasks including converting various documents into PDFs, merging compressing and protecting PDFs and more. You can use this online tool to edit the PDFs and also then convert the document back to PDF when you've finished.
Currently supported languages include English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, so there's plenty of flexibility here too.
Of course, being free and browser-based means this editor isn't as powerful as the others on this list but it is entirely free and easy to access where ever you are which makes it worth considering if you're in a hurry.
- Free to use
- Easy to use anywhere
- Not as powerful as dedicated editors
- Slightly more complicated to use compared with other editors
|PDFelement 6||Adobe Acrobat DC||Foxit||Nuance Power PDF||Hi PDF|
|Core functions||Editing, conversion, annotation, OCR, digital signature, data extraction, batch processing||Editing, conversion, annotation, OCR, digital signature, create, and share||Editing, conversion, annotation, OCR, digital signature||Editing, conversion, annotation, OCR, digital signature||Converter|
|Authorisation mode||Permanent authorisation||Monthly subscription||Monthly/Year subscription model
|Desktop price||Standard $59.95
|Standard $7.99/month $129 one-time
Business $8.99/year $159 one-time
|Website||Click here||Click here||Click here||Click here||Click here|