Top 12 Best Free PDF Editor in 2021
In the course of trying to manage, view, and edit PDF documents, you may have used a free PDF editor in the past, either online or offline. But have you ever asked yourself the question: “What is the best PDF editor for free?” If you’re not a heavy PDF user, you probably won’t require a proper PDF editing tool. Nevertheless, we recommend that you find some free PDF editor software online and offline to help get you through the chores of editing documents, filling forms, applying electronic signatures, and so on. And that’s what this article is all about.
Part 1: When Would You Need to Edit PDFs for Free?
As the world becomes more digitally transformed, it’s inevitable that you will come across PDF documents in the course of a normal day - invoices, contracts, eBooks, bank statements, credit card statements, tax forms, insurance forms… these are just some of the examples of the widespread use of PDF. Here are several use cases where you’re not a regular PDF user but still need a robust and free PDF tool to deal with the task at hand:
- Filling out interactive PDF forms
- Signing a document and sharing it online
- Making annotations on a project document to provide feedback
- Marking up a file for corrections
- Adding or deleting texts and images for proofreading.
For the above common PDF usage scenarios, it will be easily realized by using a PDF editor, such as PDFelement, an all-in-one PDF Solution, making you can edit pdf files with ease. For example, it helps you add, delete texts, images, watermarks, background, forms, and so on. It's compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android systems, and you can try it for free. Also, if you want to use an online PDF editor, here are some options for you below. You can choose the right PDF editor based on your need.
Part 2: TOP Free PDF Editor Online
There are a ton of options out there when it comes to using a PDF file editor free of charge, but many free versions come with watermarks or require you to register yourself as a user before you can enjoy the full functionality of the platform. Such applications, whether online or installable, can hardly be counted among the best free PDF editors. So, which are the true best PDF editors for free? Let’s have a look.
1. HiPDF - Simple Online PDF Editor
Developed by Wondershare Technology as a free online PDF editor, HiPDF gives you all the tools you need to stay on top of any PDF workflow. For editing PDF files, it allows you to add texts, images, and shapes. Moreover, it includes a massive collection of PDF utilities for file conversions, encryption, PDF compression, file and page management, OCR, API, and much more. It’s a one-stop online shop for all things PDF. Each function has a dedicated web page where you can upload your PDFs and other documents, process the task, and then download the file with no watermarks or other restrictions.
- Completely free, no strings attached; paid Pro option with richer features
- A comprehensive range of utilities comprising a free PDF editor, converter, compressor, OCR, and other tools
- Documents are uploaded to the web, where they may be at risk while in transit
- You will need a stable and fast Internet connection when working with large files or complex processes such as OCR
2. Smallpdf - Complete PDF Editor Online
Smallpdf is another well-known online PDF solutions platform. It offers an array of PDF tools such as a free PDF editor, file compression, file conversion, etc. but the free version has a lot of important features locked behind the paywall. It’s a great service to use when you’re in an unfamiliar location and you need to access a PDF tool on a computer different from your own.
- Excellent file compression tool
- Comprehensive PDF tools for conversion, editing, security, signing, etc.
- Users cannot set the name of a processed file when saving it
- Doesn’t do well with large PDF files
3. iLovePDF - Free PDF Editor
This online PDF service comprises a collection of useful tools for editing, conversion, compression, file and page management, and even PDF repair. While not as popular as SmallPDF or HiPDF, ILovePDF offers a matching array of capabilities to help users handle relatively light document workflows.
- Limited "Convert to PDF" options
- No advanced tools such as OCR
- Users cannot set the name of a processed file when saving it
- Doesn’t do well with large PDF files
4. pdfFiller - Online Free PDF Editing Tool
The tools in pdfFiller are laid out very differently from most other online PDF editors, and the focus is clearly on providing the right tools to the right type of user. As such, the company has various custom solutions for industries across healthcare, finance, legal, and so on. The online platform offers several important PDF tools required by business users from these and other industries.
- Solution-specific PDF tools
- API and third-party integrations
- The online platform is sometimes slow or unresponsive
- Limited advanced features such as OCR and API
5. Sejda PDF Editor - Free PDF Editor
Sejda is a free PDF editor on our list, and this is due to its impressive features. It allows you to edit your PDF files easily. Apart from editing PDFs, it can also add signatures on PDF files, add comments and links on PDFs, create fillable PDF forms, edit the content in PDF documents.
- You can edit an unlimited number of documents.
- There is no page or hourly limit.
- It is not as secure as other PDF editors.
- There is no OCR included in this online PDF editor.
- The user interface is not user-friendly.
6. PDF Buddy - Handy PDF Editor Online
This is another one of the best free PDF editors in 2021. You do not need to download and install it on your PC to edit PDFs for free. It is a free PDF editor for Windows that allows you to edit PDFs files online easily. There's no need to download a PDF editor, as everything is done online.
- Uploading files and editing them is easy.
- The instructions are clear, and you can complete tasks quickly.
- Signing up takes just a few minutes.
- It is a free PDF editor for Windows.
- The features are limited, so there are many things you might not be able to do with this editor. For example, you cannot merge PDF files using this tool, and you can't use it to create a PDF file.
- The security and privacy of your documents are a concern with this editor because all edits are done over the internet.
Part 3: TOP Free PDF Editor for Windows
Besides online PDF editor, if you need to use PDF editor for desktop, there are also some offline PDF editor software listed below. By comparing their features and other factors, you can choose an appropriate editor to help you solve the PDF editing problems.
Choose the Right PDF Editor for Free Trial
|Compatibility||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||Windows||Windows, Mac, iOS||Windows, Mac|
|Price||Professional: $79.99/yr||$159||Acrobat Standard DC: $155.88/yr Acrobat Pro DC: $179.88/yr||$99/yr|
|Conversion Speed||Convert 100 pages in 1 min||Convert 100 pages more than 2 mins||Convert 100 pages more than 2 mins||Convert 100 pages more than 2 mins|
|Easy to Use|
|Keep Original Layout|
|No File Size Limitations|
|Output Format||Word, Excel, PowerPoint, JPG, PNG, TIFF, BMP, GIF, Text, RTF, HTML, EPUB, HWP, HWPX||Word, Excel, PowerPoint, JPG, PNG, TIFF, Text, RTF||Word, Excel, PowerPoint, JPG, PNG, TIFF, RTF||Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Text, Image, HTML|
|Annotate PDF||Note, Markups, Typewriter, Text Box, Stamps, Highlight, Underline, Area Highlight, Attachment, Shapes, Drawing, etc.||Note, Markups, Stamps, Shapes, drawings, etc.||Highlight, Markups, Shapes, drawings, etc.||Text Box, Note, drawing, etc.|
|Edit Text and Images||Add/Edit/Remove text, link, image; Change the text color, font, align, line space, etc.||Add, delete, and modify PDF texts and images.||Add, delete, and modify PDF texts and images.||Add, delete, and modify PDF texts and images.|
|Page Management||Insert, Delete, Crop, Rotate, Split, Extract, Replace, Reorder||Add, Remove, Organize||Insert, Delete, Organize||Insert, Delete, Organize|
1. PDFelement - Easy-to-use PDF Editor
PDFelement is an outstanding PDF editor for Windows that tops the list. It is a worthy alternative to Adobe Acrobat, which has been widely regarded as the industry standard when it comes to PDF editing. The good thing is that this wonderful PDF editor has a free trial that comes with basic PDF editing solutions. Meanwhile, the paid version offers good value for the cost, as it is affordable when compared to other PDF editors.
It boasts of a lot of incredible features which include annotating, editing, and converting PDFs to other formats, adding signatures, and filling PDF forms. In fact, this best Windows PDF editor gives you a complete solution to edit PDF files like never before. For example, it can help you edit pdf text, add, remove, extract images from PDF, edit and remove watermarks, background, and so on. More importantly, it allows you to enjoy a large cloud storage space (up to 100GB) from Wondershare Document Cloud. Download this simple PDF editor now.
- PDFelement can do what Adobe can do, making it the editor with the best value for money.
- Users can try it out before they commit to buying it.
- Its simple design provides a user-friendly interface for both beginners and pros.
- It is secured with your documents.
- It has OCR technology, which allows you to edit/extract the PDF files from scanning.
- Moreover, it possesses the Document Cloud service, making you access your cloud documents on any device.
- It allows you to edit, convert, annotate, sign, protect, compress PDF files, and so on.
- It has limited features when used as a free PDF editor with the trial version.
- The free version offers basic PDF solutions.
- Only costs $79.99 for the PDFelement professional version, which offers a comprehensive PDF solution.
- Windows System Support: Best PDF reader and editor for Windows Vista/7/8/8.1/10.
- Mac System Support: Highly compatible with all macOS from 10.14 to the latest macOS 11.
2. Nitro Pro PDF File Editor
The Nitro Pro PDF editor offers many PDF editing features similar to other PDF editors for Windows 10 listed above. Its features include the ability to edit, create and merge, review, and collaborate, among others. In addition, the Nitro editor will allow you to fill, sign, and secure your PDF files. It supports all windows operating systems and comes in 2 versions, personal and business. The professional version costs $179.99 and has its own set of more advanced features.
- It is easy to use and also fast.
- Includes OCR technology for editing scanned PDFs.
- It is expensive in comparison to other top PDF editor software.
- The trial version has limited features.
Price: The professional version costs $179.99 with its own set of features.
System Support: It can work on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 PDF editor.
There is no doubt that the Adobe Acrobat PDF editor sets the pace for PDF editing and is widely regarded as the best PDF editing tool for Windows 10; however, it is considered to be overpriced. It is important to note that PDF editing is not just for large businesses but also for individuals and small businesses, and therefore the price is critical. But Adobe is still a great PDF editor with top-class features that helps users convert, edit, and annotate, among other functions.
- One of the best PDF editors with top-notch features.
- It is easy to use with a decent and friendly user interface.
- OCR technology is available to edit scanned PDFs.
- It is a more expensive PDF editor when compared to other alternatives.
- It may not be suitable for individuals and small businesses due to the cost.
Price: It costs $179.88 for one year or $14.99 per month for the subscription.
System Support: This PDF editor can be compatible with all Windows systems.
4. Foxit Phantom PDF Software to Edit PDFs
This is another PDF text editor capable of editing your PDF files in Windows systems. Apart from the editing feature, Phantom PDF can also perform other functions, including merging and splitting PDFs, annotating and sharing PDF files, creating PDF forms, and converting PDFs to other file formats. What's more, you can also add encryption to PDFs, redact PDFs, and sign PDFs.
- Provides a trial of 14 days to customers to try it out.
- With the OCR function, users can work with scanned PDFs.
- The trial version has limited features.
- The user interface of this PDF text editor isn't as easy to use.
Price: It comes in three versions: standard, business, and education. The standard version is $159 in a one-time payment.
System Support: It supports all Windows systems as well.
This PDF reader and writer may not be as well-known as software, but it still made it on our list of the best free PDF editor tools for windows. It is also a word processor, which means that you can edit files easily like you would with a word document. AbleWord supports reformat images, add or edit headers and footers, and tables, among other useful functions. It also includes spell check and other functions.
- It is easy to use and also free.
- It also supports some Microsoft Word features.
- It has limited features.
- Its output is not as good as some other top PDF editors.
Price: This is a free PDF editor. Just install and use it.
System Support: It can be used to edit PDF on Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows XP.
6. Nuance Power PDF Program to Edit PDF
The Nuance Power PDF editor for Windows can convert, annotate, edit and add encryption on your PDF documents. As another best PDF editor software, this PDF editor also boasts unique features such as voice note recognition technology. This makes it possible to add notes to your PDF files by simply speaking them instead of typing them out.
- Offers the ability to edit, convert and perform many other functions.
- Comes with voice note recognition technology.
- More expensive in comparison to other PDF editing alternatives.
- The UI is not user-friendly as some other PDF editors.
Price： The price for Nuance Editor is a bit on the high side, likely due to the voice note recognition technology. The cost starts at $149.
System Support： It is compatible with all Windows platforms.
Part 4: Online PDF Editor VS PDF Editor Offline
The differences between the online PDF editor and the ones that you install on your PC are vast. Since desktop applications can use your local resources in a more efficient way, they’re able to perform complex tasks such as OCR or handling large PDF files. Here’s a quick look at the main differences:
|Online PDF Editor||Desktop PDF Editor|
|Works on browsers on connected devices||Can work online when connected to the Internet; primarily works offline|
|No installation needed||Requires installation|
|Usually lightweight||Heavy application|
|Can handle heavy tasks, large PDFs, etc.||Usually unable to handle heavy workflows|
|Greater security||Security is at risk when documents are in transit during the upload/download process|
|Recommended for own or office computer||Recommended on guest machines and other devices|
There are several reasons why desktop editors are better than online PDF platforms, some of which have been outlined below:
Disadvantages of Online PDF Editors：
- Potential security risk, as mentioned in the table above
- Slow Internet connections can interrupt processes and corrupt files
- Confidential files will reside on unknown servers for at least a few hours
Advantages of Editors for Desktops:
- Fast and responsive user experience
- Work securely offline with no possibility of data leaks
- More powerful features are available since local system resources can be used effectively
Part 5: Which Type of Free PDF Editor is Best for You?
Choosing a PDF editor is definitely not a job for the faint-hearted, and it’s because there are so many online and offline tools available for PDFs that it’s impossible to try them all. In general, HiPDF is one of the top recommendations for a free PDF editor online, but its sister product from Wondershare is an equally powerful contender in the desktop PDF editor category. If you want to narrow it down for a more robust user experience, then a free PDF editor for desktops is the category you want to pursue, and Wondershare PDFelement Pro is exactly what you’re looking for.
The Best PDF Editor for Windows - PDFelement
As one of the top-rated PDF applications available today for Mac and Windows, PDFelement is an award-winning product from one of the most prolific software development companies in the realm of productivity and creativity tools. The current version of PDFelement Pro is the result of several years of experience with earlier iterations and continual development through research, customer feedback, and other important channels. Here are some of the things that set it apart from the crowd of PDF editors on the market today.
- Attractive and intuitive interface that brings minimalistic design to a whole new level
- Clear and crisp labeling, iconography, page layouts, etc.
- Easy navigation despite being feature-rich
- Features include file conversion, editing, annotations, e-signatures, password security, forms management, OCR, page and file organizing, file size optimization, viewing, printing, sharing, batch processes, etc.
- Fast app launch and document open times
- Handles heavy workflows like a breeze
- Hundreds of free templates (Windows PDFelement Pro users)
- Integrated with Wondershare Document Cloud for PDF storage and bulk e-signature service
What types of content in PDF you can edit using PDFelement?
- Text - add, edit, and delete text, change the text font, color, align, line space, etc.
- Image - rotate, extract, replace, overturn the image, change its position and size.
- Link - add, edit, or remove the hyperlink and its appearances, such as color, type, highlight style, line style, and line thickness.
- Watermark - add watermark, edit its position, the proportion of pages, color, opacity, etc., or remove the watermark.
- Background - add and edit the background color and image or remove the background.
- Header and Footer - add or delete the page number, header and footer, edit their font,c color, position, style, page range, and so on.
- Bates numbering - add, edit, and delete text, change the text font, color, align, line space, etc. add and edit bates numbering, including the font, size, style, position, etc.
When you’re on the go, HiPDF can help you no matter which computer you’re using, and for your home and office computers, PDFelement Pro comes highly recommended by users and professional reviewers alike.
Buy PDFelement right now!
Buy PDFelement right now!
- Top 8 XFA Readers for 2021
- 4 Best Smart PDF Graphic Editors
- Top 5 PDF Applications for Windows 11
- Top 4 PDF to TIFF Converters
- The Top 5 Scan to PDF Free Software 2021