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20 Best Adobe Acrobat Alternatives You Must Try

Filed under Web Tools

If you dislike the price of Acrobat Pro DC, but don’t want to have to keep working around the limitations of the free Acrobat Reader, there are plenty of specialized alternatives to these tools. We have identified some of the features and characteristics users most commonly expect from a PDF reading and editing utility.

best-adobe- acrobat-alternatives

While we have categorized the recommended web, desktop or mobile apps into five groups based on the user demands that they meet, we tried to provide as much variety as possible within particular categories when it comes to the deployment method, pricing options, etc. This way, regardless of what you expect from a PDF reader, and regardless of how or where you’d prefer to use it, you should find at least one suggestion here that offers all that you need.

General PDF Viewing and Editing

You don’t have any special requirements, but would just like a reliable, versatile, intuitive and free to reasonably priced PDF reader? Here are some of the Acrobat alternatives with the most optimal balance of pricing, comprehensiveness and user-friendliness.

1. Foxit PDF Solutions

foxit-pdf-solutions

Deployment Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iPhone, Windows S, Windows Phone
Pricing: free – to $9.95 per year
Free Trial: 14 days

One of the major competitors to Acrobat Reader, Foxit offers practically everything you can find in Adobe’s tool, at a somewhat lower price. Aside from the PhantomPDF reader, you may, depending on your needs, find good use for other apps from their toolset, like PDF compressors and rendition servers. Supported by most major platforms, if you find its interface suitable, this app might just provide for all of your PDF related needs.

2. Infix 7

infix-7

Deployment Platforms: Mac, Windows
Pricing: $99 to $1,995 per year
Free Trial: 25 credits

With advanced find and replace features, deep PDF editing options, intuitive layout, and even advanced translating options, Infix 7 is a versatile tool, which is, nonetheless, fairly simple to use. It allows for detailed document editing, which is possibly why it only comes in desktop versions – with the user interface being too cluttered with various options to be adequately copied on mobile devices.

3. Okular

okular

Deployment Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux,
Pricing: free
Free Trial: n/a

A labor of love, Okular shows that an app doesn’t have to be flashy to be good at what it does. It supports other document types as well, including ePub, DjVu, XPS, CHM and Postscript, and while it perhaps won’t impress you with its appearance, it works as seamlessly as can be desired. The app has gone through numerous updates since its inception, with the latest one bringing support for PDF rendering cancelling and improved JavaScript support in PDF files.

4. ABBYY FineReader 14

abbyy-finereader-14

Deployment Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows
Pricing: 199 € – 499 €
Free Trial: 14 – 15 days

Supporting recognition of close to 200 languages, allowing for numerous input and saving formats, from PDF, PDF/А, GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP, and DjVu to TXT, RTF, VSD(X), XLS(X) and DOC(X); people behind FineReader have obviously put in a lot of work into making their app as versatile as possible. Aside from basic editing and conversion options, this tool enables easy forms processing, digital archiving and document classification, making it much more than just a simple PDF reader. Of course, this kind of comprehensiveness doesn’t come cheap, but you can always make use of the app’s free trial period, and decide if the price is worth paying in this case.

Web and Cloud Based Apps

Sometimes what you need the most in a PDF reader is instant accessibility, wherever you are, regardless of the device you are using. You don’t want to have to install anything, but just need to do a quick edit or conversion of a document on the fly. Naturally, keeping things simple also means not having to provide payment details, so we have focused mainly on tools which offer a free version. The following apps might be of help in an emergency.

5. Kami

kami

Deployment Platforms: Web
Pricing: free – $99 per year
Free Trial: n/a

Primarily intended for use by students and teachers as a paperless classroom platform, Kami has, nonetheless, been warmly embraced by users of all profiles. Even with the free, Basic plan, you can add collaborators, view PDF files, leave comments or add text to a document. For anything more demanding, you’d do best to purchase one of the available plans, but either way, you’ll be able to use the app whenever you need, at a moment’s notice.

6. Smallpdf

smallpdf

Deployment Platforms: Web, Windows, Mac
Pricing: free – $48 per year
Free Trial: n/a

Every app market that has this app lists it as a user-favorite. Regardless of the device you use to run it, the Smallpdf immediately presents you with a variety of ways to manipulate your documents, including a PDF converter, merger, editor, unlocker, and electronic signature feature. All the options are instantly accessible and extremely simple to use. Even the free, limited version of this app is bound to appeal to you, but you might need to pay up if you want to be granted use of some of the advanced features.

7. PDFescape

pdfescape

Deployment Platforms: Web, Windows
Pricing: free – $5.99/month
Free Trial: 15 days for paid plans

One of the older online PDF editors, PDFescape offers a streamlined experience, without too many distracting bells and whistles, but still with everything you might need of a utility of this kind. This includes creation, password protection, editing and annotation of PDF documents, as well as form creation or editing. Supported by all major browsers, the app has been around long enough to have had all its kinks ironed out, and all the redundant features removed, making it a great choice, even with the free account.

8. Soda PDF

soda-pdf

Deployment Platforms: Web, Windows
Pricing: 48€ – 120€ per year
Free Trial: available

This is one of the pricier web based apps on this list, and with a good reason. While Soda may offer, and charge for, some features that the more casual users wouldn’t ever need, if you are looking for a feature-rich, professional alternative to Adobe Acrobat, that you can use on any device without first having to install it, this app is for you. While they don’t mention the duration of the free trial, one is available, so don’t miss this chance to add another tool your arsenal.

Conversion-Friendly Apps

You might have already found a PDF editor of your choice, but are not happy with how it handles file conversions. You find it difficult to export PDFs as other file types, or to for instance, convert images to PDF format. No worries, you can use one of the following apps for that part of the process, and do everything else in your default go-to utility.

9. Wide Angle PDF Converter

wide-angle-pdf-converter

Deployment Platforms: Windows
Pricing: free – $29.95 once-off
Free Trial: n/a

While you may find the fact that this converter is only available as a Windows desktop app limiting, this kind of deployment provides it with an additional layer of security, allowing for conversions to be performed securely on your PC, without you having to upload files online. You can easily convert your PDF documents into Word, PowerPoint, Excel, GIF, SVG, JPG, EPUB, HTML, XPS and TXT files, as well as protect them with watermarks or passwords. Simple and straightforward, Wide Angle is definitely one of the top PDF conversion apps currently available.

10. Cometdocs

cometdocs

Deployment Platforms: Web, Windows, Android, iOS
Pricing: free – $9.99 per month
Free Trial: n/a

With a straight-to-the-point interface, streamlined features, and not an ounce of excess fat, Cometdocs may be the fastest way to convert your PDF to a number of different formats, including but not limited to Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Available on all major platforms, as well as a web-based service, Cometdocs also allows you to store and share your documents, facilitating collaboration on top of its other handy features.

11. Icecream PDF Converter

icecream-pdf-converter

Deployment Platforms: Windows
Pricing: free – $19.95 once-off
Free Trial: n/a

Another ‘jump in and drive’ app, despite its apparent simplicity, Icecream Converter is powered by serious backend. File types which can be easily converted to PDF include EPUB, MOBI, FB2, PNG, GIF, JPG, BMP, TIFF, HTML, HTM, XLS, XLSX, ODS, as well as, of course, DOC, DOCX and ODT. The list of file types that you can get from your PDFs is only a bit shorter, and holds most of the same entries. When you add to this the ability to customize the app’s layout according to your needs and to perform bulk file conversions, it becomes obvious how it earned its place on this list.

12. Free File Converter

free-file-converter

Deployment Platforms: Web
Pricing: free
Free Trial: n/a

While most of the other apps on this list are PDF specific, Free File Converter offers conversions from dozens of file formats into dozens of others. On top of it, it’s web based and completely free. The process is fantastically simple, with the app’s interface allowing you to upload a file from your drive, provide a URL to the file, or supply it through a cloud service, and simply specify the file type you would like to have it returned as. Naturally, this kind of setup doesn’t allow for fine editing, but in a pinch, this app may prove invaluable.

Electronic Signature

One of the main conveniences of PDF format is that it allows us to provide electronic signatures, and have them be perfectly legally valid. Due to the sensitivity of such transactions, you want an app which boasts a high degree of security, but isn’t necessarily cluttered with features you find redundant. Here are a couple of those apps.

13. DocuSign

docusign

Deployment Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Windows Phone
Pricing: $10 – $40 per user per month
Free Trial: 30 days

One of the more comprehensive apps of this kind, DocuSign offers numerous others ways to provide electronic signatures, but they have reached a flagship status when it comes to PDF signing as well. Allowing you to easily merge files for secure storage and manipulation, if you only intend on trying one app for this purpose, this should be the one.

14. PDFpen

pdfpen

Deployment Platforms: Mac, iOS
Pricing: free – $124.95 once-off
Free Trial: unlimited duration, with limited functionalities

Aside from being able to accurately recognize characters in a scanned text, allowing for easy proofreading and corrections, PDFpen boasts a number of other useful features, most notably, form filling and signing options. The signed documents can be stored in the app’s cloud, allowing for easy retrieval by you, or your business partners.

15. PDF Reader – Document Expert

pdf-reader-document-expert

Deployment Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Pricing: free
Free Trial: n/a

Another full-range PDF editor, offering much more than electronic signature options. Including everything from annotations editing and export to advanced view options and layout customization, this app offers much more than we are used to getting from free, multi-platform utilities. Universally loved by users, there’s no greater testament to its reliability than the praise-filled reviews on different app markets this software is featured on.

16. PDF Expert

pdf-expert

Deployment Platforms: Mac, iOS
Pricing: free – 59.99 €
Free Trial: n/a

Reserved for Apple users, PDF Expert doesn’t try to do everything, but still comes with all the basic features you would expect from an app of this kind. This includes reducing the document size, editing text or links, file merging, annotations export, and the reason it is listed here, electronic signature options. While the paid version will allow you more flexibility, those who only need access to these features occasionally should find everything they need in the free version of the app.

Mobile-Friendly PDF Readers and Editors

Your specific requirements regarding the app you’ll use take second place to the imperative to have that app run smoothly on mobile devices and allow for easy editing. You can always check if your desktop PDF editor of choice has been adjusted for smaller screens by one of the more reliable iOS and android app design and development companies, or you can go through our suggestions, and perhaps find a new favorite.

17. Xodo

xodo

Deployment Platforms: Web, Windows, Android, iOS, Windows Phone
Pricing: free
Free Trial: n/a

Another app that we would have to mention in any kind of article about PDF editors, excelling on any device, not just those with smaller screens. Developers of Xodo have done a good job of ensuring that this utility is responsive, feature rich, and extremely user friendly, making it a good choice regardless of your particular editing needs. When you also consider the fact that it’s absolutely free, it becomes difficult to find a reason not to give it a try.

18. GoodReader

good-reader

Deployment Platforms: iOS
Pricing: $5
Free Trial: no

The Poet asked long ago: “What’s in a name?” In this case, the answer is an accurate and succinct description of the thing behind that name. In other words, we don’t think the developers of this app were undeservedly boisterous when coming up with its moniker. You can easily store, edit and sign documents, as well as share them with your colleagues or partners. The main limitation of this app is that it is iOS exclusive, but this has also allowed its developers to focus on this platform only and thus provide the most streamlined experience possible.

19. CamScanner

cam-scanner

Deployment Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone
Pricing: free – $6.99 per user per month
Free Trial: n/a

Despite providing an abundance of editing options, CamScanner is most notable for its ability to easily scan documents with your phone’s camera, enhance image quality, and allow you to easily add annotations or comments to it. You can rely on the app’s optical character recognition (OCR) to convert scanned image into editable text, and should you so choose, share it with your collaborators.

20. PDFelement

pdfelement

Deployment Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Pricing: $89.95
Free Trial: unlimited duration, with limited functionalities

While the price of this app may serve as a deterrent to some, don’t think it is not justified. For your money you wouldn’t be getting just the standard, run of the mill features available in other apps, but also some advanced functionalities that are either not present elsewhere, or at least aren’t executed as well. This includes advanced text editing options, like letting you choose whether you wish to preserve the formatting of the document you are converting; easy PDF form data extraction with Excel export; creation of fillable PDF forms, and a number of other features. While those with more modest requirements would probably make do with any of the other apps from this list, those in need of a serious PDF editing solution should definitely give this app a look.

Summary

Hopefully, we have done a thorough job of presenting you with some of the best PDF editing and viewing software. Just because we have listed a particular app as especially convenient for general editing, for its web based access, conversion options, electronic signature features or how it handles on mobile devices; this is not to say that you might not find other advantages to that app, outside the scope of our recommendations. With that in mind, there’s no reason for you to hesitate to try out as many of them as you can, especially since most of them offer a free plan or at least a free trial period.

Author: Meaghan Yorke

Meaghan Yorke is a content writer for Designrush.com, specializing in website design. These days she is all about researching various IT related topics. When she is not working she enjoys dancing classical ballet.

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