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Top 12 Free PDF Editors in 2023

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2023-12-07 15:40:58 • Filed to: Free PDF Tools • Proven solutions

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 out forms, applying electronic signatures, and so on. And that's what this article is all about.

If you are in a hurry, just download Wondershare PDFelement - PDF Editor, an easy-to-use PDF editor that allows you to edit text, images, links, watermarks, comments and more in PDF files. It can also convert, sign, arrange PDF pages, and do any other editing as you like.

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 Wondershare PDFelement - PDF Editor, an all-in-one PDF Solution, making you can edit pdf files with ease. For example, it helps you add, and delete texts, images, watermarks, backgrounds, 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 needs.

Part 2: TOP Free PDF Editor for Windows

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 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.

Free version: The free version of PDFelement can edit, annotate, convert, combine and split PDFs. It can combine and convert up to 3 files for free.

best free pdf editor


  • 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.

Upgrade from the free version:

  • The free version offers basic PDF solutions.
  • Only costs $79.99 for the PDFelement professional version, which offers a comprehensive PDF solution.

System Support

  • Windows System Support: Best PDF reader and editor for Windows Vista/7/8/10/11.
  • Mac System Support: Highly compatible with all macOS from 10.14 to the latest macOS 13.
Review for Wondershare PDFelement
4.5 out of 5 stars
"PDFelement is an application used to edit pdf files; I find it particularly helpful because it makes it simple to add ink and graphics to pdfs. I particularly appreciate how simple it is to save or export a document with just one click of the Save button. It offers a beautiful and intuitive interface that allows for quick and effortless adoption by users of any level of experience".(Source:G2)
How to Edit PDF Free with PDFelement

Download PDFelement on your device and click Edit to open a PDF file that needs to be edited.

Edit text: PDFelement will automatically detect all the editable elements in the file. Navigate to the text that you need to edit and change the existing text. Or click Add Text to add new text.

Edit image: Right-click an image in PDF. You can then have the options to delete, rotate, resize, or replace the image. You can also add a new image.

Edit link, watermark, header&footer: You can also add clickable hyperlinks in PDF, watermark confidential files, add page numbers, and more.

best free pdf editor

2. Acrobat® Pro DC PDF Editing Software

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 help users convert, edit, and annotate, among other functions.

Free Version: Adobe provides a 7-day free trial of a fully functional version of Acrobat Pro DC. You can edit, convert, and annotate PDFs for free in 7 days.

adobe pdf editor for windows


  • 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.

Upgrade from the free version: 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.

Review for Adobe Acrobat
4.5 out of 5 stars
"I have been exposed enough to various software for PDF documentation but by far I still think adobe stands out. I have used various of its features but mostly love the edit pdf functionality and the ability to sign docs with ease."(Source:G2)

3. Foxit Phantom PDF Editor Software

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.

Free version: Foxit PDF Editor provides you with a free trial for 14 days. You'll have access to the full functionality of the PDF editor during the 14-day trial.

foxit pdf editor software


  • 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.

Upgrade from the free version: 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.

Review for Foxit PDF Editor
4.6 out of 5 stars
"Foxit PDF Editor is well-regarded for its user-friendly interface, extensive editing capabilities, and efficient performance. It offers a range of features such as text editing, image manipulation, form creation, and document collaboration, making it a versatile tool for working with PDF files."(Source:G2)

4. AbleWord Free PDF Editor

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 as easily as you would with a Word document. AbleWord supports reformatting images, adding or editing headers and footers, and tables, among other useful functions. It also includes spell check and other functions.

Free version: This is a completely free PDF editor. Just install and use it.

ableword free pdf editor software


  • 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.

System Support: It can be used to edit PDFs on Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows XP.

Review for AbleWord PDF Editor
4.3 out of 5 stars
"Simple text processor that allows reading and writing about text formats, but its main feature is the ability to edit on PDF. It is a free program with a very good compatibility with the different formats shown in the text. I can also convert PDF to Word documents in just a few clicks."(Source:G2)

5. Kofax Power PDF Editor Free Download

The Kofax Power PDF editor for Windows can convert, annotate, edit, and add encryption to your PDF documents. As another best PDF editor software, this PDF editor also boasts powerful features such as converting paper documents to interactive PDF fields. This makes it possible to scan paper forms and convert them to fillable forms with OCR.

Free version: Provide a 15-day free trial, which gives you full access to the PDF editing features of Kofax Power PDF without credit card required.

kofax power pdf editor free


  • Offers the ability to edit, convert and perform many other functions.
  • Comes with OCR and Esign functions.


  • More expensive in comparison to other PDF editing alternatives.
  • The UI is not user-friendly as some other PDF editors.

Upgrade from the free version: The cost starts at $129.

System Support: It is compatible with Windows and macOS platforms.

Review for Kofax Power PDF Editor
4.3 out of 5 stars
"Power PDF is a helpful tool where users can easily do editing, merging, deleting of any pdf files. It supports all editing tools like adding the text, highlight the text, adding the image. With power PDF users can easily convert the pdf files into word, excel, and presentation format."(Source:G2)

Choose the Right PDF Editor for Free Trial

PDFelement Download Download
Foxit Phantom
Compatibility Windows, Mac, iOS, Android Windows, Mac, iOS Windows, Mac
Upgrade from the free version: Professional: $79.99/yr 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
Easy to Use
Keep Original Layout
Batch Conversion
No File Size Limitations
OCR Feature
Output Format Word, Excel, PowerPoint, JPG, PNG, TIFF, BMP, GIF, Text, RTF, HTML, EPUB, HWP, HWPX 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. 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.
Page Management Insert, Delete, Crop, Rotate, Split, Extract, Replace, Reorder Insert, Delete, Organize Insert, Delete, Organize

Part 3: Best Free PDF Editor for Mac

Many PDF editors offer both Windows and Mac versions. You can also find some free PDF editors dedicated to Mac. The built-in tool Preview allows you to annotate and convert PDFs for free, however, you can't edit text with it. Learn more free PDF editors for Mac

1. PDFelement for Mac

PDFelement for Mac is a powerful PDF editing software for Mac, which allows you to edit text, images, and links in PDF files, create & convert PDF, add annotations to PDF documents and more. It also provides an OCR tool for you to convert scanned PDFs to editable and searchable version.

free pdf editor mac


  • A powerful PDF editor for Mac. Comes with the ability to edit, convert, sign, protect PDFs.
  • Intuitive interface.


  • The free version adds a watermark to the documents.

Upgrade from the free version: The cost starts at $79.99/per year. It provides a lifetime version at $129.99

System Support: macOS 10.14 - macOS 13.

2. Preview - Free PDF Editor on Mac

Preview is a built-in free PDF editor for macOS. It allows you to add text, strike out text, highlight text, add comments to PDF files. You can also convert PDF to other formats(JPG, PNG, etc.) for free on Mac with Preview. It is the best free PDF editor you can find for Mac.

free pdf editing mac


  • Free PDF editing software without a watermark.


  • Unable to change texts, images in PDF files.
  • Unable to add images to PDF.

Part 4: 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.

PDF Buddy
Edit text
Edit images
Edit link
Speed Fast Fast Fast Fast Very fast Slow
Free to use Free to use with 20MB max size limit 7-day free trial Free to use with 100MB max size limit 30-day free trial 3 PDFs/month Free with size limit
Paid plans $3.3/month $12/month $4/month $12/month $7.5/month $7.99/month

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

Upgrade from the free version: $6 per month.

Review for HiPDF Free PDF Editor
4.7 out of 5 stars
"hipdf is super easy to convert and edit all the PDF files. Solving all PDF problems in one place."(Source:Trustpilot)
hipdf online pdf editor

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

Upgrade from the free version: $12 per month.

Review for SmallPDF PDF Editor
4.5 out of 5 stars
"When you need to compress a PDF or convert any doc to PDF quickly, SmallPDF comes in handy. Smaller editions can be done on PDFs, like whitelisting certain text. It's an excellent tool for e-sign, Merging pdf etc. All this without losing the original quality of the PDF"(Source:G2)
online smallpdf pdf editor

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

Upgrade from the free version: $4 per month.

Review for iLovePDF PDF Editor
4.6 out of 5 stars
"It does the job with ease. There are a lot of features like convert pdf to image, unlock pdfs, edit pdfs etc,. The best part is most of these features are free to use with minimal ads."(Source:G2)
ilovepdf online pdf editor

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

Upgrade from the free version: $12 per month.

Review for pdfFiller PDF Editor
4.6 out of 5 stars
"The best part of the software is editing a single word or phrase without changing other words. The Signature function is also excellent."(Source:G2)
online free pdf editor pdffiller

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, and 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.

Upgrade from the free version: $7.5 per month.

Review for Sejda PDF Editor
4.3 out of 5 stars
"We can edit the pdf without leaving the traces behind. It helps us to edit the old SOPs, previously saved PDFs in our office. It intelligently identifies the texts and enables us to edit them without changing their format directly. It also has the option to insert the image and draw the required shape within the given pdf. Sometimes, while editing the texts, it changes the fonts completely. It does not show the type/ format of the selected text."(Source:G2)
pdf editor

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.

Upgrade from the free version: $7.99 per month.

pdfbuddy free pdf editor

Part 5: 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
Internet connection Only work online when connected to the Internet Primarily works offline
Installation No installation needed Requires installation
Maximum size limit 15MB-100MB 1-2GB
OS requirement OS-agnostic OS-specific
Capability Usually unable to handle heavy workflows Can handle heavy tasks, large PDFs, etc.
Document security Security is at risk when documents are in transit during the upload/download process Greater security
  • Usually lightweight
  • Very easy to use and no need to download extra apps
  • Free to use with a size limit
  • 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
  • Loading slowly as it has to connect with servers online
  • Often unable to edit text on a table, in some special fonts or languages, or from a PDF image
  • Potential security risk since your files will reside on unknown servers for at least a few hours
  • You need to install a new application on your device
  • Not completely free to use
Verdict An online PDF editor is the right choice for those who occasionally need to fix typos in PDF files. A desktop PDF editor is a must for those who need to work with PDF files on a regular basis.

Part 6: 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.

Part 7: FAQs about Free PDF Editors

What is a PDF editor?

A PDF editor is an online or desktop tool that allows you to edit or modify PDF (Portable Document Format) files. It can be used to add or remove text, images, links, and other content. PDF editors can also annotate, highlight, and comment on PDF files. They also have features like combining or splitting PDF files, converting PDFs to other formats, and compressing PDF files. A great PDF editor is a must if you want to work with PDF documents in your daily life or work.

How can I edit a PDF file for free?

If you want to fix a typo or add text to PDF occasionally, it is a good idea to use an online PDF editor to edit PDF files for free. Free online PDF editors like HiPDF, and Sejda PDF Editor allow users to add/change text, images, links, and fill forms in PDF for free without downloading extra software.

Is there a completely free PDF editor?

Technically, there is no such thing as 100% free PDF editor. Most PDF editing software programs provide a limited free version and require a paid license to unlock full edition. The free version may give you a watermark or have no access to advanced editing features. And many online PDF editors will limit the size and number of files you can use for free with their services.

Does Google have a free PDF editor?

No. In fact, Google doesn't provide a PDF editor. The most popular PDF editing software you can find is Adobe Acrobat, Wondershare PDFelement, Foxit, and Nitro.

Free Download or Buy PDFelement right now!

Free Download or Buy PDFelement right now!

Buy PDFelement right now!

Buy PDFelement right now!

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Elise Williams

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