Editing PDF documents is now one of the most frequently done activities in the office setting.
From small proprietorships to large enterprise corporations, everybody loves PDF because it’s got a small footprint, carries static and multimedia content, is digitally signable, can be protected from unauthorized access, and needs special tools to modify.
The last part is what’s interesting because, although there are some great PDF editors out there, most people aren’t aware of the free PDF tools and services that are really good.
Reasons to Edit PDF
Why would anyone want to edit a PDF document after it’s been saved? There are several possible reasons:
- The source content may have changed
- Data might need to be updated
- Additions may need to be inserted
- Errors were spotted after converting to PDF
- New media with new information is required
- Images might need tweaking or re-positioning
- Content layout needs might change
OK, Let’s have a look how to edit PDF using free tools.
PDFelement for Windows (Full Free Trial)
PDFelement is a powerhouse editor for portable document files. Lauded as a “Top Rated Document Management Software” by TrustRadius, it is a growing force that is gaining market share at an enviable pace. Here are some of its key features:
Editing: PDFelement was designed to be a comprehensive tool to edit PDF documents in their native format. Whether it’s changing text attributes, adding content, replacing images, or just repositioning your content, PDFelement delivers beyond your expectations. And the newly reworked UI on PDFelement 7 for Windows makes editing even simpler.
- To edit a document, simply import it with a drag-and-drop action or click ‘Open File…’ in the home page of the PDFelement app.
- Click on Edit in the tab section at the top and then pick any content element that you’d like to edit. Text content editing is further segregated into line and paragraph modes for greater convenience.
- The free trial version will allow you to edit text and images, move blocks of text and other content around, add media and links, and do a lot more.
- Once you’re done, just save the file with a new name to indicate that a revision was done.
Annotations: Sometimes, when you’re editing a PDF document, you need to make notes and annotations. PDFelement makes this easy with a range of commenting and review mark-up tools you can use to make comments, suggest changes, and so on.
Other Tools: In addition to being able to edit and annotate PDFs, you can also access other tools that come with the Standard version, such as converting PDF to other formats, creating PDF from other file types, adding watermarks, signing and protecting documents, label pages, etc. What you won’t get with the free version is OCR, which is a Pro feature that converts scanned PDF documents into fully editable and search-engine-friendly files.
Adobe Acrobat DC
There’s really no free Acrobat version beyond the 7-day trial for the DC Pro, but if you just need to edit a one-off PDF, you can take advantage of that trial. It will also give you a feel for the Pro version if you choose to purchase a subscription later on.
The only problem is that after the trial period, it’s pretty much bloatware that doesn’t do anything for you except take up storage space. Nevertheless, no article on PDF editing is complete without a mention of the world’s most ubiquitous PDF editor, by far.
- To edit a document, open it in Adobe Acrobat DC while your trial version is still active.
- Click the Edit PDF menu item on the main right-side panel.
- You can edit the document directly as well as add various elements like links, headers and footers, and so on.
Soda PDF Anywhere
Technically, Soda PDF Anywhere is free, but you will need to pay separately for the account after the 14-day trial period is over. The online version is more of a promotional channel to attract users into the Soda PDF fold, but it is still a powerful PDF editor with a full suite of features, all of which are hosted on cloud servers and use your browser as the interface.
- Editing a PDF with Soda PDF Anywhere is as simple as heading over to the URL and uploading your PDF file.
- All the tools you’ll need are there in ribbon-style, which is great for most Windows users. Edit whatever elements you need to with the help of the comprehensive toolbar.
- When you’re ready, hit the Save icon, at which you’ll see a popup message asking you to sign up for a free account. Complete the registration and download your file.
The service will now be available to you for 14 days, within which you’ll either have to cancel your subscription or continue with a plan you choose.
PDFescape is a true free online PDF editor with a Windows desktop sibling as a premium version. The online version is understandably limited, but you can add text and images, rotate pages, make annotations, etc. the only thing you won’t be able to do is modify any of the current elements.
In a sense, it’s more of a light editing tool to add content or notes, but in a pinch it serves very well. And the fact that it’s totally free and totally online makes it all the more convenient when you don’t have your own computer around.
PDF Pro PDF Editor
Another online solution is PDF Pro, which allows you to upload a PDF for editing. Although you cannot directly edit text or other content that is currently in the PDF, you can erase content using the white box and then add new text over that.
It’s a workaround but it’ll work in a squeeze, especially if the editing requirement is simple and does not require editing any non-text or media content in a PDF file.
The Best Way to Edit PDF for Free
After reviewing these and other tools for editing PDF documents for free, we found that PDFelement is one of the few tools that lets you access all the paid features for free. The only limitation is that PDFelement branding will be applied to all edited or converted documents, but it’s a small price to pay for a robust free PDF editing tool.