For business, legal, government, and everyday users, PDF (portable document format) has become the de facto standard for sharing and archiving documents. This is because of a range of reasons that include portability and the availability of low-cost PDF conversion software.
In the early years, PDF was a proprietary file format owned by Adobe Systems, until Adobe released it as an open standard in 2008. As PDF files became more and more popular, Adobe released a freeware we now know as Adobe Reader.
Adobe Reader, however, only allows users to view and annotate PDF files. If you need to edit a file, that feature is unfortunately not available. Adobe Acrobat Reader, on the other hand, gives users the ability to create, edit, and manage PDF files. It comes with an e-signature feature, converts PDFs to Word documents, and offers natives apps for iOS and Android devices for mobile, on-the-go usage.
Thanks in part to the universal appeal and versatility of PDF files, there are a number of available alternatives to Adobe Acrobat Reader to choose from, particularly if Adobe Acrobat isn’t exactly what you’re looking for.
Here are some of them.
1. Wondershare PDFelement
Just like Adobe Acrobat, Wondershare PDFelement enables users to create, modify, and organize PDF files. The app allows you to create, edit, and annotate PDF files the same way you would with the Microsoft Office Suite – by clicking and typing to your heart’s content.
To begin editing, highlight any part of the document you want to modify. Change the font, size, or color, and reposition or resize images and other visual elements. You can also create powerful web forms with Wondershare PDFelement. Choose a template, customize it to your liking, and save yourself and your intended users the trouble of printing and filling out forms manually.
With Wondershare PDFelement's first-class optical character recognition (OCR) feature, you can turn scanned paper documents into digital documents, which you can then edit with ease. Wondershare PDFelement lets you work with PDF documents in multiple languages, such as English, Korean, Japanese, Italian, French, German, Russian, and many more.
Wondershare PDFelement allows you to password-protect your documents and inhibit unauthorized users from accessing them. You may also set permissions to restrict certain users from editing, copying, and extracting your PDFs.
If you’re looking to combine multiple PDF files, Wondershare PDFelement can merge multiple files into a single PDF document. It can convert your PDFs into images (like JPG, JPEG, or PNG), TXT files, EPUB, RTF, HTML, and other popular file types.
To summarize Wondershare PDFelement in a sentence: It has a familiar interface similar to Microsoft Word and can do most of the functions of Adobe Acrobat, but you’ll have to pay a little extra to avail of the software’s OCR features.
2. Corel WordPerfect Office
Corel WordPerfect Office has been around for a long time and is a software used for word processing, as well as creating spreadsheets and presentations. But why is it a great alternative to Adobe Acrobat?
For starters, aside from its office suite functionality, Corel WordPerfect Office allows you to import, edit, and export PDF files. It's like having two programs for the price of one. Also, with its publish-to-PDF feature, publishing slideshows and spreadsheets as PDF files can be done in just a few clicks.
Security is another important feature of Corel's WordPerfect Office. It gives you the ability to manage and specify the people who can view, copy, modify, and print your PDFs by adding passwords and setting user permissions.
With the addition of Nuance PaperPort that works with TWAIN- and WIA-compatible scanners, WordPerfect Office can turn paper documents into PDF files that you can search, edit, and annotate using freehand arrows and lines, highlighting, and sticky notes. PaperPort also comes with basic tools that enable you to enhance your scanned images, giving them that perfect look you need.
Lastly, Corel WordPerfect Office allows for the creation of PDF/A files, which is the ISO standard for digitally preserving PDFs. PDF/A is different from PDF in that the former prohibits features that aren’t suited for long-term archiving.
Corel WordPerfect Office supports over 60 different file types that include the latest Microsoft Office formats.
To sum up, Corel WordPerfect Office is a PDF solution that combines Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat functions. As for its weaknesses, while it includes a Reveal Codes feature that allows you to take full control of your document’s formatting, the interface is a bit old-fashioned. Corel WordPerfect Office may also be on the pricey side, particularly if you’re only after the PDF tools.
3. Corel PDF Fusion
Corel PDF Fusion provides users with efficient, straightforward, and easy-to-understand tools for viewing, editing, assembling, and creating PDF files. With Corel PDF Fusion, you can conveniently open and view more than 100 file types even without access to the software used to create them.
However, as its name implies, Corel PDF Fusion focuses on combining PDF documents, instead of creating them. This isn’t to say that it cannot be used to edit and create PDF files.
Using Corel PDF Fusion, you can instantly create a PDF from multiple files by dragging and dropping them in the assembly view. This saves you the trouble of cutting and pasting pieces of content from several different documents to create a single PDF.
Corel PDF Fusion also comes with a batch converter functionality that allows you to convert a batch of documents with just a single action, saving you the time and energy you would otherwise expend without this functionality.
To update existing PDF files with Corel PDF Fusion, highlight the text you want to edit and the Corel PDF Fusion toolbar will appear. Start typing to make changes to your content, add bookmarks, highlight texts you want to stand out, and annotate parts of the document with comments and ideas for your future reference or for sharing with colleagues.
To sum up, Corel PDF Fusion is an inexpensive and easy-to-use PDF program that carries features similar to Adobe Acrobat. On the downside, compared with the first two alternatives we’ve already discussed, Corel PDF Fusion can’t be used to electronically fill out PDF forms, doesn’t have OCR features, and renders low-quality images when converting documents to PDF.
PDFpen is a Mac PDF editor that enables users to create, edit, and export PDF files. Like the other Adobe Acrobat alternatives we’ve previously talked about, PDFpen lets users add text, images, and update existing PDF files. With PDFpen, you can fill out PDF forms electronically and even add your signature using your Mac's Trackpad, so you need not hassle yourself with the usual print-sign-scan-send workflow associated with manually signing documents.
PDFpen carries an OCR capability that allows you to edit scanned documents. Because the original document’s quality (crumpled paper or faded photocopies versus clear text on clean originals) directly affects PDFpen’s OCR performance, the software has a built-in Deskew and Adjust image command to balance image exposure and contrast and straighten the image.
With PDFpen, PDFs can be exported to various formats such as Microsoft Word (.docx), Microsoft Excel (.xlsx, .xls), Microsoft PowerPoint (.pptx), and even PDF Archive (PDF/A). Remember though that you need to be connected to the Internet when converting PDFs to other file formats. PDFpen users can also convert web pages to PDFs, complete with hyperlinks, a time-saver if you need to embed hyperlinks to your documents.
To organize and manage existing PDFs, create a table of contents and link pages within the same document for easier navigation of large PDF files. PDFpen also has a toolbar that stores your frequently used features.
Finally, PDFpen lets users encrypt their PDF documents with a password and provides them with an array of document permissions, including other users’ ability to modify pages, edit text, or fill out forms.
5. Corel PDF Document Writer
Corel’s PDF Document Writer software allows users to convert images, emails, and other file types into PDF files. Using your Windows 8 Pro tablet, Corel PDF Document Writer lets you convert files into PDFs with a simple tap, even while on the go.
The tool converts documents and emails into PDFs that are perfect for viewing, sharing, and printing.
While Corel PDF Document Writer has minimal features and cannot be used to update existing files, if what you're looking for in an Adobe Acrobat alternative is a simple PDF file converter that you can use on your Windows device whenever, wherever, this software just might be the right one for you.
SlideSnack is a web-based application that allows users to create presentations and share documents online. Because it's web-based, users can use it anytime, anywhere, and on any device without downloading the software.
To start using it, log in to SlideSnack using your Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Yahoo account, or sign up for an account using your email address. You can then upload your documents and turn them into amazing presentations. Multiple files can be uploaded simultaneously.
SlideSnack also allows users to add voice recordings to their uploaded documents. Presentations can be shared on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, or by emailing a permanent link to your friends and colleagues. SlideSnack lets you download your published presentations and host them on your local computer.
Although SlideSnack does not allow users to edit an existing PDF file, it's a great way to turn your PDFs into amazing presentations.
Something to keep in mind when looking at this Adobe Acrobat alternative: The free version only displays up to 20 slides per presentation, and presentations or slidecasts are watermarked with the SlideSnack logo. You need to go premium to remove these limitations.
7. SeamlessDocs Doc Editor
For an Adobe Acrobat alternative to mainly fill out PDF forms, SeamlessDocs Doc Editor is one to check out. It allows users to automate their form processes and convert “dumb” PDFs into interactive forms that can be completed, shared, and e-signed from any device.
SeamlessDocs Doc Editor also lets users customize the visual aspects of your forms. You can change the background color or hide your form's digital letterhead through SeamlessDocs’ Custom CSS feature. SeamlessDocs Doc Editor offers more than 1,000 free web forms that users can use and customize within seconds.
When building web forms, SeamlessDocs users can choose from 40+ form elements that include form fields, payment integration, images and videos, surveys, event tools, sharing tools, and many more. These elements can be added by dragging and dropping them to your SeamlessDocs forms.
SeamlessDocs Doc Editor also carries powerful data management tools that let you filter form results, sort them, manage their statuses, and even email them directly from the platform.
To sum up, while SeamlessDocs Doc Editor can only be used to edit PDF forms, it’s equipped with easy-to-use tools for customizing the look and feel of your web forms. Its handy e-signature functionality lets you e-sign your documents anywhere, anytime, on any device.
8. Soda PDF
Created by LULU Software in Montreal, Canada, Soda PDF is a modular software that functions just like Adobe Acrobat. It allows users to open, view, create, convert, edit, secure, and share PDF files. Aside from PDF documents, it works with ebooks, even comic books that you can view and flip through in 3D format.
Soda PDF's Convert module enables you to convert PDF files into other popular file formats such as Microsoft Word (.docx), Microsoft Excel (.xlsx), Microsoft PowerPoint (.pptx), HTML, text files (.txt), image files (.jpg, .jpeg, .gif), and rich text format (.rtf).
With Soda PDF’s Edit, Insert, and Review modules, you can edit existing PDF files, annotate your documents, highlight and underline text, and add pages, images, and sticky notes in just a few clicks.
The Forms module, on the other hand, lets users create custom forms using radio buttons, check boxes, and text fields. Combine this with the Secure and Sign module and your PDF forms can be signed digitally while being protected with passwords and/or access permissions. Soda PDF also carries an OCR feature that turns scanned documents into searchable and editable files.
In summary, Soda PDF, being modular, allows you to only install and pay for the features you need. While it doesn’t have the ability to add videos or sound clips to your documents, it comes with a familiar and easily navigable interface that looks a lot like Microsoft Word.
9. Enolsoft PDF Magic for Mac
Enolsoft PDF Magic is a PDF toolkit for Macintosh computers. Using its simple drag-and-drop interface, it allows you to merge multiple PDFs into one file, reorder and rotate your PDF documents, and insert images (PNG, JPG, JPEG, BMP, TIFF, PSD, and GIF, among others), other documents (.pages), and PDF pages into your PDFs.
With Enolsoft PDF Magic, users can split large multipage PDF documents into smaller PDF files. The software also has a zoom-in/zoom-out functionality, so you can focus on specific sections of your PDF pages.
Aside from the ability to split and rearrange PDFs with drag-and-drop ease, Enolsoft PDF Magic functions as a Mac PDF extractor, allowing you to quickly and easily create new PDF documents from the extracted pages.
10. Enolsoft PDF to PowerPoint for Mac
You’ve converted your PowerPoint presentation into a PDF file. Is there a way to convert it back to its slideshow format?
With PDF to PowerPoint for Mac, yes, there is.
PDF to PowerPoint for Mac is a hassle-free way to convert PDF files, even the password-protected ones, to Microsoft PowerPoint files. The software preserves the original document and keeps its layout, images, tables, and hyperlinks intact.The PDF to PowerPoint for Mac converts PDF files so fast it only takes a minute to convert a 200-page PDF document into a PowerPoint file. The software also converts PDFs to plain text (.txt).
The entire conversion process involves two steps: (1) import the PDF file from your local computer or cloud-based storage service, and (2) click the Convert button. Enolsoft’s PDF to PowerPoint for Mac also comes with features to batch process multiple PDF files and partially convert a PDF file.
While we agree that Adobe Acrobat Reader is a great companion tool for users’ various PDF needs, it’s not the only tool that gets the job done. The above mentioned software titles are good alternatives, particularly if Adobe Acrobat isn’t the right fit for your unique needs. They’re similar to Adobe Acrobat in a lot of ways and can definitely contribute to your overall productivity.