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How to Edit PDF Files and Documents Without Adobe Acrobat in 2023

PDF is a popular and widely applied file format used in electronic documents and forms. This is because PDFs are consistent on every device, which is important in today's high-tech culture. Adobe Acrobat is considered by many to be one of the best tools for managing and editing PDFs. However, it's slightly expensive, and not everyone can afford it.

Which begs the question, how do you edit a PDF without Adobe Acrobat? This article will teach you different ways of editing PDFs without Acrobat. Stick around to learn more.

Why You Need Adobe Acrobat Alternative

While Adobe Acrobat continues to be at the forefront of everything PDF, there are new players in the market today to keep an eye on. These new players allow you to edit PDFs without using Acrobat at a fraction of the cost to save you money in the long run.

Also, some of the apps we'll list are just as fast, so you can do more in less time. However, if you don't have the budget to get a dedicated PDF program, here are different methods to edit a PDF without Acrobat.

How To Edit PDF Without Acrobat on Windows

Here are three different methods to edit a PDF without having Acrobat installed on Windows.

Method 1: Using PDFelement

edit pdf without acrobat

Using Wondershare PDFelement - PDF Editor when editing PDFs retains your document's quality no matter what you do and whomever you share it with. PDFelement is one of the top-rated PDF productivity apps available today on desktop and mobile to handle all your PDFs without the steep learning curve.

Key Features of PDFelement

Here are some key features of PDFelement that you can immediately take advantage of.

  • PDF Editing

  • Compress PDFs

  • OCR

  • Organize PDF

  • Add notes and comments

  • Create and Fill forms

  • Read Mode

  • Password-Protection

  • Create PDFs

Why Choose PDFelement

The key features of PDFelement cover all editing and conversion needs on all your PDF files. PDFelement also works whether you're on Windows, macOS, iOS, or Android, making it a great pick if you're looking for a budget-friendly PDF editor.

How to edit PDFs using PDFelement

Step 1 Download and install PDFelement. Once installed, launch the tool on your computer.

Step 2 Open a PDF file saved on your computer. Alternatively, you can use the drag-and-drop feature to open a PDF on the main program window.

open pdfs without acrobat

Step 3 Click Add Text or Add Image to start editing. Or, click on the area you want to edit to highlight.

edit pdf without adobe

Step 4 Use other editing tools such as watermarks, background, or more, depending on your preference. Once you finish editing, click Apply and save your new PDF.

Note: Editing a scanned PDF is also possible with OCR. Click Tool > OCR. Using OCR turns your scanned PDF into an editable and searchable document.

Method 2: Use Microsoft Word

You can also edit PDFs on Microsoft Word, albeit with some limitations. Here's how.

Step 1 Launch Microsoft Word. Click File > Open > choose your PDF file.

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Step 2 Word will automatically make a copy of your PDF into a format it can display. Click OK.

Step 3 Edit the document using Word's different editing tools.

Step 4 After your edits, Click Save, choose the folder to save the document in the Save as from the menu, and click OK.

Who Suits This Method

You can edit PDFs with Word if you don't have Acrobat or any PDF editing software installed on your computer. It does have a certain limitation, however. Editing PDFs with Word works best for PDF files that are mostly text. If you intend to edit PDFs with images, or a scanned PDF, then it won't be formatted well in Word and may not display correctly.

Method 3: Use an Online PDF Editor

If you don't have access to Microsoft Word or a dedicated PDF editor, you can always look for online tools to edit your PDFs when you're in a pinch. Here are some free PDF editing websites you can visit without paying any subscription fees.


Wondershare HiPDF is a free online tool to edit all your PDF workflows. HiPDF's tools allow you to convert, merge, compress, edit, split PDFs, and more with just a few clicks. It's a great alternative to Acrobat as it has up to 39 free online tools to make your tasks quick and simple.

edit a pdf without adobe online


Smallpdf is another free online PDF editor that can handle your PDFs quickly and efficiently. The free online tool can do up to two PDF processing per day. You can get its paid version if you want unlimited access to Smallpdf's editing tools.

edit a pdf without adobe online


iLovePDF offers free, accessible, and a wide range of tools to modify your PDFs on the go. If you're looking for a quick solution, iLovePDF's free online tools work on major web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Explorer 10+, and Safari.

edit a pdf without adobe online

Which Online PDF Tool Should You Choose?

We recommend HiPDF among the free online tools we've listed above. Here are some of its features on why you should choose HiPDF as well.

HiPDF Online

Completely free to use

All PDF tools are available except OCR

5 Files Batch processing

Web and Desktop application

Access to all PDF tools, including OCR

No Batch processing limit

No advertisements

Up to 2,000 pages per file

How To Edit PDFs With HiPDF

Here are the steps to edit your PDF files using HiPDF's free online tool.

Step 1 Go to HiPDF. Click Choose File or drop the PDF saved on your computer on the main program window.

Step 2 Edit your PDF file using different tools such as adding Text, Image, Shape buttons, add Signature, and more.

how to edit pdf without adobe online

Step 3 Click Apply to save your changes. Wait for your new PDF file to process and save it to your computer.

How To Edit PDF Without Acrobat on Mac

If you don't have Acrobat installed on your Mac, you can use Mac's built-in Preview tool or a dedicated program like PDFelement for Mac. Here are the steps on how to use the two methods.

Method 1: Use Preview

Preview on Mac allows you to edit your PDFs, like doing markups, adding text, notes, signatures, and more. Here's how.

Step 1 Open your PDF in Preview.

Step 2 Click Tools > Annotate and choose from the different editing tools available.

edit pdf without acrobat mac

Step 3 Save your PDF once you're done with your edits with File > Save.

Method 2: PDFelement for Mac

Here are the steps to edit PDFs on Mac using PDFelement.

Step 1 Download PDFelement for Mac and install it on your computer. Launch the app on your and click Open. Alternatively, drag and drop the file on the home screen.

Step 2 Edit your PDF using the different editing tools available on the Toolbar. Choose between Text, Crop, Highlight, Pencil, Shapes, and more.

edit pdf without adobe on mac

Step 3 Click Save once you're done editing the PDF to save the file on your Mac.

How To Edit PDF Without Adobe on Mobile Phones

PDFelement is also available on iOS and Android if you need a reliable PDF app on your mobile phone.

edit pdf without acrobat on mobile

Here's a step-by-step guide to starting editing PDFs on your mobile.

Step 1 Download and install PDFelement on iOS or Android. Launch the app on your phone.

Step 2 Open a PDF saved on your mobile device. With the PDF file open, tap any text on your PDF to highlight it and start editing.

edit pdf without acrobat on mobile

Step 3 Tap Save once you're finished editing your PDF file.

Adobe Acrobat vs. PDFelement: Which One Should You Choose

With the handy comparison table below, this section will compare Adobe Acrobat with PDFelement if you're still undecided on which PDF editing software you should choose.

Adobe Acrobat
Supported OS Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux Windows, macOS, iOS, Android

Standard - $12.99/ Month with a 1-Year commitment

Acrobat Standard – 22.99 Per Month(no annual commitment)

Acrobat Pro - $14.99 / 1 Month (1-Year commitment)

Acrobat Pro - $24.99 Per Month (No annual commitment)

$79.99 – 1 Year

$109.99 – 2 Years

$103.99 – Perpetual Plan

With a 14-Day Free Trial

Features PDF Editing | Compress PDFs | OCR | Organize | Add notes and comments | Create and Fill forms | Read Mode | Password-Protection | Create PDFs PDF Editing | Compress PDFs | OCR | Organize | Add notes and comments | Create and Fill forms | Read Mode | Password-Protection | Create PDFs
Best For The standard version is designed for personal use to manage PDFs. Meanwhile, Acrobat Pro is recommended for professional and business use For personal and business use. Also meant for intermediate to heavy PDF editing due to its advanced features
User Group The user interface is professionally designed but can be complex or daunting for beginners. The UI looks very similar to Word, with clear and intuitive tools, making the app beginner-friendly.

Final Words

Editing PDFs without Adobe Acrobat can be a nightmare if you don't know different methods. Even then, using workarounds like Word on Windows and Preview on Mac allow you to do basic editing, especially if you're in a hurry.

On the other hand, you can choose from a wide range of free online PDF editors available today if you have internet connectivity. However, it's still highly recommended to use a dedicated PDF editor like PDFelement, whether on a computer or mobile phone, to access advanced tools and make it easier to edit PDFs daily.

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