8 Best PDF Editors for Windows & Mac 2023 [Online & Download]

This article includes the 8 best PDF editors that can improve your productivity in working with PDFs. Get the best PDF editor for Windows and Mac.

PDF files can be easily read by the built-in apps (Adobe Acrobat Reader for Windows and Preview for Mac) or some web browsers on your computer. However, making changes to PDFs in Windows such as editing text, adding graphics, and signing a name can be extremely inconvenient. 

A PDF editor is designed to help you preview, create and modify PDF files easily. Some of them are online PDF editors that work in a web-based environment, requiring you to upload the PDF, make changes, and download the altered PDF back to your computer. Others are standalone PDF editor apps for download that process your PDF documents locally on your PC. 

Best PDF Editor in 2022

It is challenging when choosing the best PDF editors from so many options and different features. After intensive tests, we come up with this list of the top PDF editor tools that boost your productivity in working with a PDF. 

PDF, the Portable Document Format, is a file format developed by Adobe in 1992 to "present and exchange documents reliably - independent of software, hardware, and operating system". A PDF file can contain a variety of content such as flat text, graphics, forms, rich media, 3D objects, and interactive elements. Now it becomes a standard for information sharing because of its integrity, convenience, and high security.

A PDF editor is a program that can manage PDF documents. It is a PDF creator that can help create a new PDF file on your device for use. It is also a PDF reader that can open, preview, print, and share existing PDF documents. As a PDF editor, it offers many tools that allow you to make changes to and protect PDF files. This includes not limited to: 

  • Combine/convert/split/extract PDF documents 

  • Add annotations, graphics, media, buttons, links, and other items to PDFs

  • Modify or delete existing text and other content on a PDF

  • Write a digital signature on a PDF file

  • Convert PDF files to other formats or convert other files to PDF

  • Password-protect/encrypt PDFs

How to select the best PDF editor? As everyone has different needs, you should make a list of what features you would like on a PDF editor. We conclude a few criteria for your reference that are commonly agreed upon by most users. 

  • Free of charge. There are plenty of best PDF editor free tools that can help you manipulate PDF files without any cost. If you only want basic capabilities for occasional use such as signing a PDF or editing several paragraphs, a free PDF editor is enough. But if you want to manage unlimited PDF files and enjoy full features, you should consider paid PDF editors. 

  • Excellent usability. An intuitive, simple, and user-friendly interface is important for editing PDFs as the file may contain a wide variety of objects. The ease of operation will greatly improve productivity in working with PDFs instead of slowing the workflow down.

  • High level of security. A PDF format is widely used as a standard file format for enterprises, government departments, and other data-sensitive parties. These documents usually include confidential information. It is essential for the best PDF editors that they access and alter the PDFs in a safe and private environment and won't snoop on the data.

  • Complete compatibility. The best PDF editor should be fully compatible with different versions of Windows and macOS computers, especially the latest operating system. This ensures you can edit PDFs on different devices freely. 

  • Full-fledged features. The best PDF editor must have rich features that can fulfill the most common needs for PDF solutions. 

We looked into both online PDF editors and installable PDF editor applications. We removed some PDF editors that have few reviews or fake reviews. Then we used several different PDF files including a large PDF, a text-heavy PDF file, and an image-rich PDF file to test the functionalities of each candidate.

The following parts describe the best PDF editor for Windows and Mac in 2023 that supports PDF format and allows you to make any changes to PDFs on a Windows computer.


Quick takeaways of the best PDF editors


iTop PDF PDFelement Nitro PDF Apple Preview Readdle PDF Expert kdan Mobile PDF Reader PDF Candy Smallpdf
PDF editor type Desktop download Desktop download Desktop download Native App Desktop download Desktop download Online program Online program
Supported OS Windows 11/10/8/7 Windows10/8/7 Windows10/8/7 All macOS Versions macOS 10.13 or above Unspecified All versions with a web browser All versions with a web browser
Price Free Free Trial Free Trial Free Free Trial Free Trial Free Free
Edit existing text, images, etc Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Beta Yes Yes
Add e-signature Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Compress PDF Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
PDF converter Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Add watermark Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes No
Protect PDFs with passwords Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Manage PDFs like merge, delete, split, etc. Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Create a New PDF Yes Yes Yes No No Yes No No
Level of Security High High High High High High Medium Medium

1. iTop PDF for Windows 


iTop PDF is a comprehensive and robust PDF editor that can help you work with PDF documents and scanned documents with ease. It stands out as the best PDF editor for Windows thanks to its solid features to create, edit, merge, split, compress and protect PDF files for free.

Pros:

  • Totally Free 

  • Extensive PDF editing tools to create and alter PDFs

  • Convert MS files to PDFs with an "Office to PDF" button

  • Convert PDFs to Microsoft Word, Excel sheet, or PPT formats in high quality

  • Flexibility to combine, add, delete, rearrange, and extract PDF pages

  • Compress PDF files to reduce the size for faster sharing 

  • Allow adding a watermark or encrypting PDFs for protection

  • Easy to use as all tools are handy at the toolbar

Cons:

  • Only available for the Windows version 

  • No OCR capability

Here we will take iTop PDF as an example to show you how to edit a PDF with a PDF editor. 

Step 1: Download the PDF editor app on your Windows computer. 

Step 2: Click the "+ Open PDF" button to view a PDF file. 

How to Edit a PDF on Windows

Step 3: Click a tool in the Quick Access or toolbar at the top to work on your PDF document. You can comment, highlight, fill in a form, create e-signature or manage pages as you like.

PDF Editing Tools

2. PDFelement for Windows


PDFelement is a full-featured PDF editor developed by Wondershare that should rank among the best PDF editors. It has no problem working as a PDF reader, converter, or modifier to complete any tasks on a PDF document.

Best PDF Editor - PDFelement

Pros:

  • Native OCR to scan PDFs

  • A wide variety of tools to annotate and redact a PDF

  • Convert Microsoft Office documents, images, HTML, etc. from or to PDF

  • Rich features in managing PDF pages such as combine, split, delete, insert, etc.

  • Process PDF files in bulk with watermark, header, footer, etc. 

  • Allow using a password to hide confidential data

  • 1GB free cloud storage

Cons:

  • Offer a free trial version with limitations

  • Some editing tools are hard to find

  • The free trial version doesn't enjoy full features


3. Nitro PDF for Windows

Nitro PDF is another top PDF editor under the Nitro Productivity Suite collection. It has lots of useful PDF editing, converting, and managing features for people who handle PDF format regularly. 

Top PDF Editor - Nitro PDF

Pros:

  • A PDF solution for individuals and teams

  • Advanced cloud capabilities

  • Create and convert PDFs from or to 200+ file types

  • Versatile electronic signature features

  • Repair PDF files

  • Allow adding password protection and permissions to PDFs

  • Extensive tools for editing, marking up and annotating PDFs

Cons:

  • 14-day free trial 

  • Upgrade with expensive Nitro Productivity Suite 


4. Apple Preview for Mac

Apple's computer has a native image viewer and PDF viewer of the macOS operating system called Preview. The Preview app can not only recognize lots of image files and PDF files but also edit them. It is completely free and pre-installed on your Apple Mac.

Best PDF Editor for Mac - Preview

Pros:

  • Free

  • Fast PDF viewing 

  • Encrypt PDF with a password and set up editing permissions

  • multiple tools for editing and marking up PDFs like adding shapes, changing texts, and cropping 

  • Sort, drag& drop, extract PDF pages

  • Powerful image editing features include image annotation, rotation, and color extraction

  • Convert PDF to other image formats supported by Preview

  • Allow e-signing a PDF

Cons:

  • No OCR available 

  • Limited features compared with professional PDF editing software


5. Readdle PDF Expert for Mac

PDF Expert by Readdle is an easy-to-use PDF editor software that is popular among Mac users for its usability and synchronization. It allows you to edit, annotate, sign, convert, and also lets you manage many PDF documents efficiently. 

Best PDF Editor for Mac - PDF Expert

Pros:

  • Excellent synchronization among Apple macOS, iPad, and iOS devices

  • Convert Microsoft Office documents, text files, and JPG images to or from PDF format

  • Support freely editing text, graphics, and links

  • Multiple tools for PDF pages organization like combine, merge, delete, rearrange, and extract

  • E-signature is supported

Cons:

  • Only work with Apple products 

  • OCR and PDF compression are only available for its yearly subscription

  • Offer a 7-day free trial 


6. Kdan Mobile PDF Reader for Mac

Kdan PDF Reader is a PDF reader and PDF editor that help you modify and manipulate PDF-format documents. PDF files can be converted to editable files or directly changed and annotated on your Mac computer. 

Top PDF Editor for Mac - Kdan Mobile PDF Reader

Pros:

  • Great PDF reading experience 

  • Offer cloud storage 

  • Allow filling out forms and signing 

  • Protect PDFs with passwords, watermarks, and protected download links

  • A powerful PDF converter to change PDF to or from MS documents, HTML, RTF, etc. 

  • Reduce PDF size by compressing it

  • Manage and rearrange PDF pages by drag-dropping 

Cons:

  • A 7-day free trial

  • Crowded and confusing user interface

  • OCR is not available for the free version

  • Text editing is still in the beta version

If you don't want to install a PDF editor app on your computer because you just want some basic functions for a one-time or use, using an online PDF editor tool is a good idea. By using an online tool, you need to be aware of the risk that your data on the PDF might be exposed in a web environment. 


7. PDF Candy

PDF Candy is one of the best online PDF editors that can process your PDF files through a web browser. As a free PDF editor, it offers 47 online tools for PDF editing and file conversion. 

Best Online PDF Editor - PDF Candy

Pros:

  • Free

  • Built-in OCR feature for scanning text

  • Extract text or images from PDF files

  • Allow adding a watermark or password-protecting PDFs

  • Rearrange, merge, delete, add, and split PDF pages

  • Compress a PDF to a smaller size

  • Convert 20+ formats of files like Word, Excel, JPG, HTML to PDF and vice versa

  • Edit and sign a PDF

  • Support Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera, Safari

Cons:

  • Limited text editing features

  • One task each hour with the free version

  • Internet is required 

  • Not friendly for large PDF management 


8. Smallpdf

Smallpdf is another best PDF editor online tool that can improve your productivity with PDF documents. It offers 21 tools to help you convert, compress, and edit PDFs for free. 

Best Online PDF Editor - Smallpdf

Pros:

  • Free

  • Create PDFs from scans with a mobile app for iOS and Android 

  • Compress PDF without losing quality

  • A great PDF converter to convert files between PDFs, Office files, and JPG

  • Merge, delete, and split PDF

  • Allow password encryption

  • Allow adding text, filling out forms, and creating an e-signature

  • Support Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera, Safari

Cons:

  • Can only edit 2 documents per day

  • Limited PDF editing and markup features especially for text

  • Internet is required

Conclusion

In various industries such as education, healthcare, finance, and government, the use of PDF format has become a norm. A simple yet powerful PDF solution is a must-have in daily life. This article introduces the 8 top PDF editors for Windows and Mac. iTop PDF, PDFelement, Nitro PDF, Preview, PDF Expert, and Kdan Mobile PDF reader are offline desktop applications while PDF Candy and Smallpdf are web-based PDF editor software.

To ensure the highest level of security as you probably deal with PDF documents with sensitive information, it is recommended to manage and alter PDFs locally on a desktop PDF editor. On a Mac computer, the Preview app can help you complete some basic PDF editing tasks such as a digital signature and markup. iTop PDF Editor, as one of the best PDF editors for Windows, is a standout to edit, compress, convert, and protect PDFs on a Windows PC. Try it for free.

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