In this age, it’s only self-inflicted injustice to NOT know about alternatives of any SAAS product, even if the candidate in question is Adobe Acrobat.
Hating software is not tough because nothing is built to perfection. There are occasional bugs and glitches we all fight through. But it becomes unbearable when you see a good price tag (subscription🙄) making fun of its takers.
Take this Redditor, for instance:
Not all of us might be this frustrated with Adobe Acrobat, but…there is always this “but” that brought you here in search of some working substitute…at a lower price point, of course.
So I have summarized the basis for opting for any such utility and some tools which can help you say goodbye to Adobe Acrobat👋.
How to Choose a Perfect Adobe Acrobat Alternative?
Before we embark on this journey, it’s important to note most SAAS products are unique. So, it’s generally impossible to get every feature of any tool with their competition. Besides, the PDF utilities we are going to see as alternatives might have something of their own, which might be absent in Adobe Acrobat.
Ultimately, you need to focus on your specific use case and see if there is anything else that can cut it for you.
Regardless, here are some factors to consider, which basically outline some of Adobe Acrobat‘s abilities we are trying to replace and a few more things to consider.
Create, Edit, & Export
This is the core of any PDF utility.
Creation simply means converting other documents into PDFs. It should work on most used file formats generated by word processors (ex., .doc, .docx), image creators (ex., .jpeg, .png), spreadsheet tools (ex., .xlsx), power-point makers (.pptx), etc.
Editing includes adding/removing text, images, annotations, highlighting, commenting, and more. Besides, PDF split, merge, extract, rotate, rearrange, redact, crop, compress, etc., also come into this territory.
Export is another area useful for making substantial changes (and further presenting) in the more-editable file formats such as Word files, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.
eSign and Collaboration
This should ideally allow you to send PDFs to others as forms to request signatures and add yours as well.
In addition, converting existing forms (digital or print) into editable forms, where you can add CTA buttons, modify the fields, etc., and finally share it with others., is again a feature that can be pretty useful for the present business landscape involving remote workforce and international clientele.
Besides, in PDF-heavy workflows, it’s important for any such tool to allow access-controlled sharing and commenting.
Likewise, features like copy, print, or edit protection ensure content security.
This comes into play for cloud storage and sharing and matters the most for anyone dealing with sensitive information.
One simple security feature is password protection which most PDF tools have.
However, what happens when you share your PDF documents with others? Are those encrypted in transit or have end-to-end encryption so that only the intended recipient is granted access?
There is no end to security features. But you should really look closely to see if the tool of your choice qualifies for the bare minimum.
This is very important to see if your preferred PDF tools have native experience for the platforms you use.
Also, mobile applications have their own appeal because they help in making little tweaks on the go. Moreover, it’s a whole lot better if there is integrated cloud storage to access documents anywhere with just an internet connection.
Free trial & Customer Support
Since choice is subjective, check out if there is a free trial or at least a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee.
And while these are straightforward tools, ever-present tech support is desirable, which should be more than mere AI chatbots. To confirm this, one can verify what previous customers say. Normally, there is little chance of success if a company has a history of failing its present users.
A few good places to start would be Trustpilot, Reddit, and Quora. But beware of “planted reviews.” So, research a lot, and you’ll begin to recognize the real ones.
So, these were a few factors that can assist you in picking the best Adobe Acrobat alternatives, some of which are discussed below:
The best thing about Foxit PDF Editor is the presence of a one-life time payment option, in addition to subscriptions and a free trial.
On the security front, you can password-protect, certificate-protect (unique permission per user per element), and use Microsoft AD RMS for role-based access, defining rights for viewing and modifying specific parts of any PDF.
It also integrates with ECM systems and cloud services like SharePoint, Epona, Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, etc. Moreover, you also have plugins to extend its capabilities.
However, like with most SAAS tools, the feature list varies with the plan and the platform, with the Windows version being the most powerful one. Foxit PDF Editor has native applications for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android and also allows cloud access.
It works on:
Nitro PDF is another capable solution that offers a 14-day no-credit card trial for risk-free assessment.
Importantly, Nitro has separate plans for eSign, which are much more powerful and tailored for that aspect only. In addition, there is a bundled plan comprising top-level PDF and best of eSign features.
Nitro also excels in the security domain with password protection and certificate-based protocols. For instance, password protection offers up to AES-256-bit encryption and allows for task-based protection where you can prohibit users from modifying or printing documents.
Nitro integrates with Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Word, Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Sharepoint. You also get five free document storage in its Nitro Cloud and can subscribe to extend this limit.
As of now, Nitro has applications for Windows, Mac, and iOS.
It works on:
Sejda is one of the most economical Adobe Acrobat alternatives with a free forever plan.
Its web application is jam-packed with core-PDF tools and has a desktop utility offering even more power. You’ll get PDF editing, conversion, compression, OCR, eSign, forms, etc., and a ton of other features making Sejda PDF editor a value-for-money proposition.
Sejda security protocols include password-based controls for opening and modifying PDF documents.
While its web tools are good for most use cases, you also have its desktop application (Windows, Mac, & Linux) in case the documents are sensitive for cloud processing.
It works on:
PDFelement from Wondershare has many strengths, among cross-platform availability and a lifetime license tied to a specific version.
It supports PDF editing, converting, batch OCR, eSign, forms, search with redaction and more. The highlight of Wondershare PDFelement is the integration of AI tools, including chat, analyze, AI-content detector, rewrite, proofreading, etc. Most of this AI goodness is powered by ChatGPT, a conversation AI engine based on GPT-4 (current version).
For securing PDFs, this utility allows password protection which supports various levels of encryption, including AES-256-bit. In addition, one can restrict PDF printing, copying, editing, etc.
Every subscription comes with a complimentary 20 GB cloud storage space which can be further expanded by purchasing separately.
PDFelement comes as a download for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
CoolNew is a straightforward PDF utility focused on editing and converting. In addition, it features handy page editing tools used to resize, numbering, add watermarks, etc.
CoolNew boasts of advanced printing, where you can print specific parts of a page. Moreover, it’s good for collaboration with inbuilt comment management.
It supports PDF protection with passwords.
Currently available for Windows PCs, CoolNew has 6-month and yearly subscriptions and a limited-powered free plan.
It works on:
Expert PDF is a light-on-pocket feature-loaded utility you can use to replace Adobe Acrobat. It covers PDF editing, converting, commenting, batch processing, forms, OCR, eSign, redaction, etc.
Furthermore, it allows for setting permission levels and password-locking PDF documents, powered by the industry standard AES-256-bit encryption.
This tool is available for Windows and has a trial version to test things out upfront.
It works on:
PDFescape comes with a decently powerful free PDF web app and an even more potent freemium desktop application for Windows PC.
The web application mostly covers basic PDF editing, forms, password protection, and online sharing. And its desktop experience adds converting, compressing, adding watermarks, eSign, advanced forms, redaction, etc.
As of this writing, it costs almost half of its Adobe counterpart and can serve most use cases. Lastly, the paid plans offer a risk-free 15-day money-back guarantee.
It works on:
If your budget allows, it’s very easy to go with the most expensive tool in the market in any category. Sure, they might have a truckload of features. But which ones you actually use depends on your use case, like writing on PDFs on the go, etc.
So, test out a few, especially if there are free versions, to get the feel of the user interface. Besides, there are money-back policies you can avail to pick out your best Acrobat alternative.
Hitesh works as a senior writer at Geekflare and dabbles in cybersecurity, productivity, games, and marketing. Besides, he holds master’s in transportation engineering. His free time is mostly about playing with his son, reading, or lying… read more
Joy R Bhamre
Joy R Bhamre is a Google certified Digital Marketing Specialist, Content Writer & Editor as well as a Cambridge-certified English Language Trainer with over 14 years of corporate experience.
Today, there is an underlying shift towards entrepreneurship among millennials. They don’t want to be tied down to 9-to-5 jobs; instead, they want to make their own decisions and build & market their products.