There’s no doubt that the PDF (Portable Document File) is here to stay as the de-facto format for digital document exchange. That’s because PDF documents can hardly be edited without special software and can even be secured. Practically all companies nowadays are required to use or process a PDF file for storage and document exchange purposes. But sometimes, there’s a need to edit PDFs in one way or another. So, this time we’ll discuss the best free PDF editors for Windows 10.
Creating PDFs nowadays is quite easy using the Microsoft Print to PDF Printer. As long as a Windows application can print, the output can be directed to the PDF printer and comes out as a PDF file. Microsoft Office also allows documents to be saved as PDFs. So having Microsoft Print to PDF Printer or any other third-party PDF printer allows anyone to author PDFs.
PDF Editing, on the other hand, can be a broad subject. And PDF editing software can be expensive. But depending on how the PDF will be edited, we have listed several free tools in this article. PDF editing can involve content addition such as simple document signing and annotation; page manipulation such as extraction, addition, removal, and rotation; to full-blown content editing. We will include the best free PDF editors for Windows 10, which involve more than simple annotation.
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Adobe Systems, the inventor of the PDF file, technically has the best software for creating and editing PDF files. That software is called Adobe Acrobat, which many companies use to create interactive forms that can be filled up and create brochures, flyers, and manuals. However, Adobe Acrobat comes at a premium. When purchased, it is the perfect medium for creating pure PDF documents that can later be easily processed by the following entries in this list. While Windows and other third-party PDF printers allow for saving PDFs, their documents will have differences or some issues compared to those authored using Acrobat. For filling up forms, annotation, and digital signing, Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (Free version) should be enough for the job.
Nuance Paperport is a licensed product from Nuance Inc but comes free with some large multipurpose printers. Nuance Paperport is a powerful and versatile document management system capable of creating Word, text, image, and PDFs from scanned pages. Paperport and its companion PageView allow for annotation, enhancement, page rotation, page extraction, and page merging. It can even change the PDF quality for users to send compressed copies. It’s pretty easy to use and is perfect for small to large businesses that handle lots of documentation.
LibreOffice is perhaps one of the best PDF editors for Windows 10 that’s free or open-source, LibreOffice Writer to be more specific. However, to be technical, LibreOffice does not directly edit the PDF document but will convert it to a manageable format. It offers good performance when importing and maintaining the various elements within the PDF document. After editing, users can save it as PDF or print it using the Microsoft Print to PDF printer. If you’re downloading Libre Office to edit PDF documents, it has the added bonus of being a free Microsoft Office alternative.
Speaking of Microsoft Office, the same can be said of this office software by Microsoft as it also has limited PDF creation and editing abilities. Like LibreOffice, it will not convert the PDF directly but will convert it first into an editable form. After editing, the file can either be saved as a PDF file or printed to the Microsoft PDF Printer or any third-party PDF printer. When it comes to both Libre Office and Microsoft Office, effective editing is possible if the PDF file was authored by Acrobat or another 3rd party PDF maker.
As the progenitor of Libre Office, Apache OpenOffice shares the same PDF editing functions. Like LibreOffice, these functions are completely free. The development of these office alternatives has since forked and will have some differences. You can try out both to see which one is relatively easier to use.
PDF Shaper from Burnaware is a bit limited compared to Libre Office. It doesn’t annotate PDFs, but it can split and merge PDF files. It can insert and extract pages from PDFs as well as rotate and remove pages. For annotation after processing, Adobe Acrobat Reader DC can do the job. Of course, the affordable Pro and Premium versions hold some of the more important features such as watermarking, digital signatures, password security, encryption and decryption, and document conversion to and from other formats.
7. PDFsam Basic
PDFsam Basic from PDFSAM works similarly to PDF Shaper Free. It allows for the splitting, merging, extraction, and rotations of PDF pages, though it cannot remove certain pages without strategically splitting and merging the PDF file. Though it looks much more straightforward than PDF Shaper Free, it would have benefited from removing pages as a non-premium feature. Of course, included in premium would be the ability to edit the elements within the PDF file, organize the PDF by rearranging pages and adding blanks, document cropping, and of course, the conversion of PDFs to other formats. An inexpensive 49 USD per year nets the important OCR function to process documents scanned as images.
Xodo PDF Reader is a Windows 10 app that can be downloaded through the Microsoft Store. It’s a good tool for annotating PDFs like Adobe Acrobat Reader DC but can do more such as insert, delete, duplicate, and rotate pages in a PDF. Annotations can be flattened to become part of the PDF itself. Extra features such as document conversion, document stamping, and encryption can be unlocked by purchasing a license. Previously edited documents are kept in a cache in case they’re needed again. Being a full-screen Windows app, the interface takes some time to get used to but is manageable.
PDFescape is a full-featured PDF editor that can do as much as Adobe Acrobat. It is easily one of the best PDF editors for Windows 10 and even on other platforms, thanks to its online application that is primarily free. The web app allows for annotating and adding elements much like Xodo. It also allows for the addition and deletion of pages for the PDF file and is relatively easy to use.
The desktop version looks reminiscent of MS Office, making it easy to use and understand. It seems appealing enough to use. However, everything is for show unless the user sets up an account for a free trial. After which, the user is in business for a time. The good thing is that both monthly and annual subscriptions are very inexpensive at 3 USD monthly. PDF Escape allows for complete control of PDF authoring and editing and can convert PDF files to other formats. PDFescape would be a cheaper option than Adobe Acrobat.
Nebula PDF Converter Pro is similar to XODO, except the interface is cleaner and more organized. Like XODO, this app is available at the Microsoft Store, earning it a place in this list of best PDF editors for Windows 10. As the name suggests, its primary function is to convert PDFs into Word, Excel, RTF, Text, and PNG. It can also turn the formats mentioned into PDFs. But in the 3rd item of its sidebar is the Read/Edit PDF files which is surprisingly a good PDF editor. Annotator mostly does the usual stuff like annotating with post-its, scribbles, highlighting, stamping, and adding custom images through the stamp function, allowing for digital signing of the document. It also allows for the reorganization of PDF pages, addition of blanks, and page deletion.
The only thing Nebula PDF Converter Pro lacks is the actual editing of existing content. But all other features, coupled with a clean and easy-to-use interface, make this recommendable as a Windows 10 PDF editor. If you’re also looking for a Microsoft Office alternative, there’s a shortcut to the Nebula Office Suite. Also, if Nebula PDF Converter Pro won you over, their PDF Suite Pro app is your next step.
So, if you are looking for free or cheaper alternatives to Adobe Acrobat for editing your PDF files, look no further; here are your best options.