When you need a document that looks the same everywhere, no matter which app opens the file, you need a PDF. They’re the closest thing we have to digital paper. PDF files are ubiquitous for detailed forms, eBooks, whitepapers, and anything else where you don’t want text and fields to move around depending on your device and window size.Add document automation to your business workflows here.
And they’re easy to use. On Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android today, you can view PDF files with built-in tools. You can often highlight text, fill out forms, and even add basic annotations—but want to edit the text or replace an image in a PDF? That’s where things get tricky.
We’ve tested fifteen PDF editors to find the best apps to both view and edit PDFs. Here are the apps to use the next time you need to tweak a PDF—along with tips to turn anything into a PDF.
→ Want to make a PDF instead? Check our Guide to Making PDF documents to find out how to build your own PDF documents on any device.
What Makes a Great PDF Editor?
How we evaluate and test apps
All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who’ve spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it’s intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We’re never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.
PDF editors are not all made equal. The PDF apps you’ve likely used the most—Adobe Reader, Apple iBooks, Windows Reader—are PDF reader apps. They’re built to help you read PDF files like you would a book, and help you flip to the page you want, search through the book, highlight text, and perhaps fill out PDF forms and sign them digitally.
Then there are PDF annotation apps, including macOS Preview, Xodo, and most mobile PDF apps. These let you add comments to PDFs, rearrange pages, add shapes and arrows to call out things in the document, and insert new text blocks and images into the PDF. You can’t change the core, original PDF text—but you can add to it much like you might write notes on a printed document.
The most professional PDF software is PDF editor apps. These tools—including Adobe Acrobat, Foxit, and more—often look like Office apps with detailed toolbars and menus, and can cost hundreds of dollars. They can change anything in a PDF. When you need to replace an image, change the text in a PDF, add new form fields, or edit anything else in a PDF, they’re the apps you need. They can also create new PDF documents and forms from scratch.
We looked at both PDF annotation and editor apps in this roundup, checking to see how they displayed PDF documents, if they worked well, and if they could edit PDFs without deeply changing how the original PDF document looked. We also tried to find the software with the best value for price—and found four apps that stood out as the best tools to edit, collaborate, and convert PDF files.
The Best PDF Editor Apps
- Sejda (Web, Windows, Mac, Linux) to edit text and create PDF forms for free
- Xodo (Web, Android, iOS, Windows) to annotate and collaborate on PDFs anywhere
- CloudConvert (Web) to turn PDF files into editable Word documents
- Foxit (Web, Android, iOS, Windows, Mac) to edit PDFs everywhere
- Preview (Mac) to rearrange pages, sign documents, and mark up PDFs for free
- PDF Expert (iOS, Mac) to quickly edit PDF text and images
- PDFelement (Android, iOS,Windows, Mac) to edit PDFs and add forms in an Office-like editor
- Adobe Acrobat (Windows, Mac) to create detailed PDFs and forms
The Best Free PDF Editor: Sejda (Web, Windows, Mac, Linux)
To edit text and create PDF forms for free
Need to edit text in a PDF? Sejda is the rare free PDF editor that can edit text or add form fields to a PDF. It’s designed around a set of tools to rearrange pages in PDFs, merge documents, crop or rotate pages, add headers and footers with page numbers, recognize text with OCR, split PDFs into smaller documents, and more. Among those single-purpose tools is a surprisingly feature-filled PDF Editor that, yes, lets you edit text and add form fields for free.
It’s not perfect. Sejda struggles more with editing text using custom fonts than other PDF editors (as you can see with the italics text above). So if your PDF uses an uncommon font, your best strategy is to select the text, switch to a similar font included with Sejda, and then make your edits. Also, it adds the same formatting to all text in one text box, so you can’t italicize or bold one word in a paragraph—instead, create a blank space, then add a new text box for the formatted word and drag it in. You can also start from scratch with a blank document, perfect to make a new PDF form. Sejda packs an impressive suite of features into an easy-to-use editor that’s ideal for your one-off PDF edits.
Sejda Price: Free to edit 3 documents per day including up to 200 pages each; from $5/week for Web Pro or $69.95 perpetual desktop license for unlimited edits and batch processing
The Best PDF Collaboration App: Xodo (Web, Android, iOS, Windows)
Want Preview-style markup features that work everywhere? Xodo is the PDF editor to use. It can’t edit text—but it does include all the annotation features you need to markup your documents. Open xodo.com/app, drag-and-drop in a PDF file, and seconds later it’ll open in your browser with all of Xodo’s markup features (without needing to make an account). You can fill out PDF forms, search through documents and bookmark pages, highlight or strikethrough text, and add images, text boxes, shapes, signatures, and other annotations. You can’t edit existing text and photos in PDFs—but you can add almost anything else you want to a PDF. Or, from the app’s front page, you can select to merge PDF documents or rearrange pages as well—or turn a Word document or photo into a PDF with Xodo’s mobile apps.
Xodo is also designed for collaboration. You could add standard annotations and text notes, then download the PDF and send it to your team as with most PDF editors. Or, you can work from the same online document together. Once you’ve signed up for an account, you can invite others via email or copy a link to your document. Then, add annotations and collaborate around comments on your PDF, like you do in Google Docs.