Have a PDF document and need the best free PDF editor to edit the document?
That’s exactly what I’m sharing with you today.
In fact, I’ll get you not just one, but 8 of the best PDF editing apps.
It’s just more options and choices for you.
Because I’m no “editing guru”, it won’t be fair if I crown one of these the “absolute best”.
Hence, I won’t.
That’s something I’ll let you decide.
Best free PDF Editor
Go on, pick the tool you believe will be the best free PDF editor for you.
I’ve shared both “downloadable software”, as well as online editors.
Note that it’s best to go with the software versions, they’re just more secure than the online versions.
However, if it’s a quick, one-time fix you need, the web versions serve just that purpose.
Wondershare PDF Element is probably the most feature-rich PDF editor in the industry.
Let’s start with its OCR (Optical Character Recognition) feature.
It’s capable of detecting text from scanned PDFs and letting us edit them.
Even 3rd graders can edit PDFs with ease using Wondershare.
Simply select the text, delete it > type your own. Or, add new text to existing content.
Pretty impressive text-formatting too is available (colours, fonts, alignment etc.)
No rocket-science, huh?
Then, it also offers image-editing.
We can not only delete or replace text, but also “crop it” to better suit our needs.
Document editing allows us to add new pages, add page-breaks, crop page sizes and much more.
Offer tons of pre-designed “stamps” which can be added to the PDF documents.
Text bubbles and sticky notes are some other elements which can be added to the PDFs.
These essentially make Wondershare PDF Element a team-collaboration suit. Sharing of ideas, changes, or just notes made easy.
What’s most impressive is its “pre-designed templates”.
This is what makes it the best free PDF editor.
You can use one of its pre-designed templates to create legal documents, forms and other similar documents without hiring people of expertise.
It even allows drawing directly on the PDFs.
Also offers a password-protection feature.
“Redaction” is another impressive feature. Lets us blackout confidential information.
Even compressing of documents for size-optimization is possible.
It also doubles as a format converter. So any document can be converted either to, or from PDF to other formats.
A free version is totally available. No signups required to initiate download.
2. Movavi PDF editor
If for some weird reason you aren’t going with Wondershare, the Movavi PDF editor in my opinion is the next best bet.
It’s used by million-dollar brands including Hitachi, Deloitte, Essar, TAQA etc. Speaks volumes for the tool’s overall value.
Is pretty lightweight as well at just 28.9MB (Windows version).
Again, editing text is no harder than editing MS-word document.
Alike MS-word, you can add custom charts and graphs to the PDF as well.
Copy-paste multiple documents, and then merge them all in one if that’s what you need.
Again, documents can be created from PDF to many other formats.
Pre-designed templates make designing or creating documents easy.
Rotating, splitting, merging of PDF pages are other features that the Movavi PDF editor offers.
You can either “Draw” your signature, or upload one from your disk.
It’s available for both Windows and MacOS.
The free version can be downloaded without sharing any financial details. They don’t even demand a signup. One-click download.
However, if you wish to go for paid plans, the 1-year license costs $29.95, or buy it forever for $39.95.
If you’re a student you receive a massive 50% off.
SofaPDF is one of the best free online PDF editors.
“Online” as in it doesn’t require any downloads.
The tool can be accessed in-browser.
A desktop version is available but isn’t mandatory.
It even supports drag & drop. Simply drag the PDF you wish to edit, and drop it onto the SofaPDF editor.
Here’s the editor-interface. Should explain things a lot better:
The “links” filter too is available alike with Wondershare and Movavi PDF editors.
Clicking on it auto-lists all the outgoing URLs in the PDF. Makes easier to find, or edit them.
The other basics such as splitting, merging, adding margins etc. are available.
You can even add/change the background. Either add a picture, or simply change the colour.
There’s an “Extract” button, lets us extract all the images in a PDF with a single click.
Security features include “Password” as well as “Permissions”. These make sure only authorized personnel can make changes to the document.
You can even restrict specific functions individually (e.g. rotating pages, commenting etc.)
You can also insert your own watermarks, headers, links etc.
The in-built converter lets us convert PDFs to 5 different formats, including HTML!
No registration, signup or payment is required to use the PDF editor.
You can optionally pay $40.00 for a lifetime license (limited time offer). Else, it costs $48.00/year (Home version) or $84.00/year (Premium).
4. Sedja PDF editor
Sejda too is an online best free PDF editor. No downloads/signup required.
You can either upload files, fetch them from Dropbox or Google Drive, drag & drop files, or create a new PDF document altogether.
Here’s what the interface looks like:
Yes I do agree the interface looks a bit cleaner than most others on this list.
Editing PDF simply requires clicking on the “Add text” button on the top-bar, and then selecting the text you wish to edit.
Or, just add your own new text.
It’s probably the only web-based, free PDF editor which truly allows editing existing text.
You can also edit non-interactive forms, or add your own interactive form fields.
There’s no “image-library” as such, but 1 single image, a “DRAFT” stamp is available.
You can upload your signature and sign documents in a single click.
Annotation features include highlighting, strikeouts, and underlining.
How about “drawing” on the document directly! Yeah that’s possible.
Two shapes, a “rectangle” and an “eclipse” can be added.
Needless to mention, you can merge and split pages.
A desktop downloadable version exists as well. This lets us add passwords and offers more fonts than the web version.
The free version offers 3 edits/day, max file size 50 MB. The “PRO” version has no restrictions. Has a weekly plan priced at $7.95/week, or a Desktop+Web annual plan priced at $63.00/year.
A lifetime perpetual license too is available for $69.95/month.
5. Nitro Pro
Nitro Pro is what I use when I need “advanced” editing capabilities.
For starters, it does allow editing pre-existing PDF text. The interface is completely drag & drop.
Multiple files can be combined, or a single file split to form multiple files.
The tool also boasts a format-converter. So you can convert PDF files to MS-Word, PowerPoint, Excel, JPEG, PNG and quite a few other formats.
Professional features include eSignature requests, pre-designed templates, real-time notifications on signatures etc.
Obviously we can also include our own images, headers, bookmarks etc.
OCR is available allowing us to read text from “scanned” (photographed) PDF file.
PDFs can be password protected as well. Copying text or editing can be prevented. (Best for copyrighting assets.)
“Versioning” is another feature which keeps tracks of all the changes to the document.
Annotation features include highlighting, underlining, or striking text through.
Is not only compatible with forms, but also lets us create our own forms.
A free version is available. The paid plan is priced at $159.00/user.
6. Foxit Phantom PDF
Foxit Phantom PDF too is a downloadable software which lets us edit PDF documents.
It’s not as lightweight as Wondershare, and weighs nearly 650MB.
It does offer the OCR feature, and hence lets us edit existing text on a PDF, even from scanned documents.
Allows highlighting text, underlining it, strikethroughs, and adding captions/comments directly. Or, draw freehand.
The interface resembles much with MS-Word hence providing easy usability even for the not so computer-friendlies.
Rectangles, arrows, hexagons, ovals are some of the shapes which can be drawn directly.
Merging and splitting documents is possible. In fact, it allows one document to be dragged & dropped into another for easy merging!
Does feature an in-built converter, but its “webpage converter” is what most impressed me.
Webpages can directly be converted to PDF and then edited, or PDFs can be converted to HTML as well.
Password protection is definitely offered. However, you can also grant and revoke access, request files, or check/track changes by others.
You can even limit the actions that others can perform on the documents. Redaction of confidential information is possible.
A free version is sure available, however, it does require a form to be filled. (No email verification required).
Paid plans available with one-time /monthly or yearly license. The one-time license costs $89.00 for the Standard plan. Monthly subscription would cost you $14.99/month.
7. PDF Escape
PDF Escape offers both a desktop, as well as an online PDF editor version.
You can either upload directly, or load the PDF file from any URL!
The interface looks a bit outdated on the web version.
However, it almost mimics MS-word if you’re using the desktop version.
Also note that you can’t edit “existing text” using the online free PDF editor.
That’s only possible with the desktop version.
However, new text can totally be added.
Or the “freehand” tool can be used to draw shapes or mark areas on the PDF.
A “form” too can be readily created, it offers options such as check, textbox, radio, listbox, submit button etc.
The “Whiteout” feature can be used to redact documents and hide parts of it.
The desktop version also offers additional features such as converting PDF to other formats, merging files, compressing for size, watermarking etc.
A forever free version available for the desktop version. Or, two paid plans- “Premium” and “Ultimate” can be opted for.
The free version is limited at 10MB and less than 100pages.
8. Small PDF
Small PDF is a tool you’ll find listed on all the best free PDF editor articles out there.
However, I’m not completely impressed with its features.
Well yes, it’s 100% free.
However, an optional paid plan does exist which costs either $12.00/month, or $108.00/year depending on your billing cycle.
Both the versions are “web-only”. No desktop version offered.
Here’s a sneak-peek into the interface:
Unfortunately, you can’t use it to “edit” existing PDF documents.
You can add your own images to the PDF.
Or, add shapes. The free online PDF editor offers three shapes, a circle, rectangle and an arrow.
Or, you can draw on the PDF.
Other features include the ability to compress, split, merge, password-protect the PDF etc.
That concludes nearly everything that SmallPDF offers.
In a nutshell, it’s best used for “adding” content to PDF documents rather than editing them.
Final Words – Best free PDF editor
So, which is the absolute best free PDF editor?
In my opinion? I’d say Wondershare PDF Element.
Or, Movavi makes for a pretty perfect option as well.
All the other listed PDF editors too are feature-rich, however they’re more for one-time fixes.
Here’s a rank-based (in my personal opinion) visual representation of this article:
The reason I say that is, best free PDF editors online are cloud-based. You need to “upload” the document to them.
We never know how long they’ll store it, and if they do or don’t have access do we?
But hey, I’m confident there’s at least one tool on this list which you feel is the best free PDF editor? Go, edit away! (Wait, share this piece with your colleagues maybe? They’ll thank you!)