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In Collaboration Last updated: June 2, 2023
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Adobe Acrobat continues to be one of the top names in the world of PDF editors. But what is Adobe Acrobat, after all? It’s a group of software applications that help you view, create, sign, print, and manage PDFs.

With Acrobat desktop software, three mobile apps (Adobe Acrobat Reader, Scan app & Signature app), and superior cloud services, Adobe Acrobat helps you work efficiently and securely from anywhere.

Now, Adobe Acrobat is available in three versions: Acrobat Free, Acrobat Standard, and Acrobat Pro. There’s a lot of talk about why Acrobat Pro continues to be the epitome of PDF editors. This article aims to test that claim thorough comparison of the three offerings of Adobe Acrobat.

Adobe Acrobat Free Version: What to Expect


Adobe Acrobat gives you the power to work with PDFs wherever you are. But with an Adobe Acrobat free account, you can only work with Acrobat online tools.

Core Features of the Adobe Acrobat Free Account

  1. Enable the free Google Chrome extension to highlight, edit and comment on PDFs
  2. Annotate and edit PDFs in Google Drive directly
  3. Access Acrobat app for free
  4. Work with Excel, Word, and PowerPoint files in Acrobat online
  5. Get the Adobe Scan app for iOS or Android to scan things easily
  6. Access the Adobe Reader App on your desktop to view, highlight and comment on all types of PDFs
  7. You get access to several PDF and e-signing online tools to enhance productivity and collaboration

A Quick Tour of Adobe Acrobat Online Tool Features

  • Convert Word to PDF and JPG to PDF
  • Compress PDFs
  • Sign PDFs and forms digitally

What Is Adobe Acrobat Standard?


If you want a step up from the Adobe Acrobat free account, but you’re not ready to go Pro yet, try Adobe Acrobat Standard. Perfect for personal use and standard core functionalities, Adobe Acrobat Standard lets you collaborate on PDFs from anywhere, anytime. You can review, edit and track PDFs across any device.

Adobe Acrobat standard account allows you to unlock advanced PDF editing and managing capabilities in addition to the basic features. The new Adobe Acrobat Standard comes integrated with desktop, mobile, and online access.

Compatible with Microsoft Windows 7, 8, and 10 or Mac OS X v10.9 and v10.0, Acrobat Standard has these advanced functionalities:

  1. View, edit, and store PDFs in Box, Dropbox, OneDrive as well as Drive
  2. Interact, track, and comment on PDFs from all your devices
  3. Create, combine, and protect PDFs while also exporting them to your mobile device easily
  4. Convert Adobe Photoshop (PSD), Illustrator (AI), or InDesign (INDD) files into PDFs from any device
  5. Edit PDFs on your mobile, from adding text and images to reordering, rotating, and deleting
  6. Digitally sign and verify PDFs and enable autofill collection for faster results
  7. Share PDFs for signing, track them in real-time, and collect group feedback in one PDF

Plus, it’s important to note that Acrobat Standard comes with Adobe Cloud services. Without compromising on security, this simplifies integration and collaboration across different devices.

What Is Adobe Acrobat Pro?

Familiar as the “complete PDF solution,” Adobe Acrobat Pro is for all the professionals out there (businesses and enterprises included). In addition to the advanced PDF management, signing, and editing functionalities that Acrobat Standard comes with, Adobe Acrobat Pro lets you unleash pro functionalities like:

  1. Create PDFs and design new pages using preset templates
  2. Converting scanned docs into editable PDFs
  3. Redacting PDFs to remove sensitive information
  4. Comparing differences between multiple versions of PDFs
  5. Creating web forms instantly, adding brand logos to your agreements
  6. Measuring the distance and perimeter of objects in PDFs
  7. Converting scanned paper documents to PDFs with matching font
  8. Enabling one-click creation of rich PDFs
  9. Using Microsoft Project, Visio, or Autodesk AutoCAD to create technical PDFs
  10. Creating, converting & validating PDFs that comply with ISO standards like PDF/A and PDF/X and accessibility standards
  11. Getting guided instructions to prepare PDFs and add interactive objects to PDFs
  12. Adding Bates numbering to legal PDFs and agreements for compliant indexing
  13. Creating PDF forms with JavaScript to increase interactivity
  14. Reducing file size, optimizing and customizing PDFs automatically

What’s special about Acrobat Pro is it allows collecting payments via Braintree. Plus, you can add branching to agreements as a part of its latest update. In fact, it makes the entire process of creation and management of PDFs more secure, compliant, and efficient.

Adobe Acrobat Pro comes with 24×7 advanced tech support and can be integrated with enterprise software like SharePoint and Microsoft 365.

Acrobat Free vs. Standard vs. Acrobat Pro

This table will help you understand what’s special about Acrobat Standard or Acrobat Pro and why they’re better options for professionals, businesses, and enterprises. Here’s a comparison of advanced features between Acrobat Pro, Standard, and Free:

Acrobat ProAcrobat StandardAcrobat Free
Managing PDFs across all devicesYesYesOnline only
Measuring the distance & perimeter of objects within PDFsYesNoNo
Create PDFs that match the compliance standards of ISOYesNoNo
Track activity on PDFs and web forms across devicesYesYesNo
Create and export PDFs on mobileYesYesNo
Create technical PDFs using Visio and one-click rich PDFs and using templatesYesNoNo
Create PDFs that match accessibility standardsYesNoNo
Automatically optimize PDFs and reduce the file sizeYesNoNo
Protect PDFs with passwords and prevent others from copyingYesYesNo
Redacting PDFs and removing sensitive information that’s visibleYesNoNo
Add Bates numbering for legal compliance within PDFsYesNoNo
Convert Adobe Photoshop (PSD), Illustrator (AI), or InDesign (INDD) files into PDFs from any deviceYesYesNo
Convert paper documents into PDFs from mobile or desktopYesNoNo
Create PDFs using video, interactive objects or audio to PDFs and use JavaScriptYesNoNo
Create PDFs using video, interactive objects, or audio to PDFs and use JavaScriptYesNoNo
Send in bulk for e-signing to multiple people at onceYesNoNo
Create reusable templates, add e-signing branding and custom URL to agreementsYesNoNo

Acrobat Free vs. Standard vs. Pro Explained

We have segregated 5 main areas of differences to help you get a detailed overview of features between Acrobat Free, Standard & Pro:

#1. Managing PDFs


Acrobat Free: With an Adobe Acrobat free account, the basic features of viewing, editing, and annotating are available on Acrobat online and Google Drive.

Acrobat Standard: Adobe Standard allows users to view, manage, rotate, reorder, split, and organize PDFs from any device of their choice.

Acrobat Pro: Acrobat Pro, in addition to the features of Standard, allows users to redact PDFs to protect sensitive information. Plus, you can create technical PDFs with Autodesk AutoCAD and Microsoft Project, one-click rich PDFs within Microsoft 365, and turn scannable images/PSD, AI, and INDD files into editable PDFs. You can also create web forms, add brand logos and optimize file size automatically.

#2. Editing PDFs


Acrobat Free: You can only edit PDFs and forms in the Acrobat desktop browser.

Acrobat Standard: Adobe Standard allows users to convert PDFs, organize PDFs from a single page in Homeview, and track the activity of PDFs across devices.

Acrobat Pro: Along with the features that come with Acrobat Standard, Acrobat Pro allows users to combine webpages to interactive PDFs and convert paper documents to PDFs with paragraph reflow and matching font. There’s also the option to add interactive objects from mobiles. You can also reorder, rotate and delete PDF pages from your iOS or Android app.

#3. Digitally Signing Forms


Acrobat Free: You can use the basic e-signing capacities of Acrobat online tools.

Acrobat Standard: Adobe Standard allows users to digitally sign documents, collect legally binding signatures and verify PDFs.

Acrobat Pro: Acrobat Pro goes a step ahead and allows you to collect group feedback in a single PDF, use autofill for easier submissions and mark PDFs with approved/draft labels, as applicable. You can also ask for e-signatures in bulk, create reusable templates for agreements and add brand logos and URLs to forms.

#4. Accessibility, Security & Compliance

Acrobat Free: When you sign or verify using the online Acrobat tool, Adobe prevents users from copying your data.

Acrobat Standard: Adobe Standard guarantees the security of your data in Adobe Cloud and is compliant with all e-signature industry standards.

Acrobat Pro: Acrobat Pro takes security to a different level by allowing Bates numbering for legal compliance on PDFs. Not only that but using Acrobat Pro, you can ensure your PDFs comply with ISO standards like PDF/A and PDF/X and accessibility standards for people with disabilities.

#5. Accessibility & Integration

Acrobat Free: With an Adobe Acrobat free account, you’ll get access to all the basic features of Acrobat online. However, you won’t be able to unlock advanced features like device integration or Adobe Cloud services.

Acrobat Standard: Adobe Standard and Adobe Pro allow users to share, manage and store files instantly across all devices. You can access your PDFs in Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, and One Account.

Acrobat Pro: Acrobat Pro takes integration a notch higher by allowing users to track real-time PDF and document activity across devices. Furthermore, it supports Windows touch-enabled devices, including Surface Pro, for enhanced efficiency. You can also use autofill to sign agreements and PDFs on the go!

Pricing & Plans

Two predominant types of subscriptions are available for Acrobat Standard and Acrobat Pro: individuals and teams. While individual subscription means a single license, business/team subscriptions have multiple licenses within an organized, manageable admin console.

Adobe Acrobat Standard

Adobe Acrobat Standard is available for individuals and teams. Payment plans are usually available in monthly, prepaid, and annual subscriptions paid per month.


Adobe Acrobat Pro

Adobe Acrobat Pro is available for individuals, teams, and enterprises. Discounted payment plans are also available.

$19.99/month$22.19/month/licenseCustom plan

For the enterprise-level Pro plan, get in touch with Adobe to get custom pricing based on your team size and requirements. There’s an Adobe Acrobat Pro plan available for students & teachers as well, similar to the pricing plan available for individuals.

Acrobat Standard Vs. Pro: Our Pick


While both Acrobat Standard and Acrobat Pro have some fantastic capabilities to manage and edit PDFs and forms, Acrobat Pro might be the clear winner, in our opinion. Acrobat Pro meets accessibility standards as well as ISO standards, thereby giving you an extra layer of accessibility as well as security.

Plus, Pro opens up access to advanced functionalities like Bates numbering, creating technical PDFs, and converting paper documents to instant rich PDFs. In fact, Acrobat Pro, with its action wizard, can help streamline repetitive processes and stay ahead of the curve.

Summary: Acrobat Pro Takes the Crown

While using the Acrobat Free version can give you access to the absolute basic features, it might not be enough for large-scale or complex operations. You might wonder, why not Acrobat Standard, then? With a very minimal difference in pricing between Standard and Pro, we recommend opting for Pro.

That’s because you get access to superior capabilities like comparing multiple PDF versions, adding interactive elements via JavaScript, and creating PDFs with audio, video, and interactive elements from your phone in Acrobat Pro.

Acrobat Pro is the clear winner for professionals and enterprises who want to take their collaboration, creation, and automation to the next level.

You may also explore Adobe Audition Audio Editor.

  • Gargi Ghosal
    Gargi is an experienced writer & editor who specializes in creating copies that inspire confidence and conversions. With 7+ years in the industry, she’s currently the Lead Sub-Editor of a global magazine. Her expertise lies in the home… read more
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