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Best Adobe Acrobat free alternatives

Comparing Adobe Acrobat and its alternatives
Last Updated on April 15, 2024
Discover the best Adobe Acrobat free alternatives for all your PDF needs. From editing to sharing, find affordable options that don't compromise on features.
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In the search for the best Adobe Acrobat free alternatives, PDF files stand as a universal constant in our digital lives. Adobe Acrobat has long been the go-to software for creating, editing, and managing PDF files. However, its cost and subscription-based model may not be a fit for everyone’s budget. That’s why we’ve curated this comprehensive guide to offer you robust and affordable options.

We’ll delve into our top picks, highlighting their compatibility across various platforms and devices, ease of downloading, and overall excellence. Whether you’re a Mac user or someone who prioritizes top-notch PDF editing capabilities, this article has got you covered.

How we picked the best Adobe Acrobat free alternatives

In the quest for the best Adobe Acrobat alternative, we embarked on an exhaustive exploration of numerous PDF editors that promise a similar functionality to Adobe Acrobat. Our mission was to unveil the best free alternatives that excel not just in functionality but in ease of use, affordability, and features that cater to a diverse user base. After a thorough examination, we narrowed down to five outstanding Adobe Acrobat alternatives that stand out from the crowd. Here’s a closer look at the criteria that steered our selection:

User interface

A user-friendly interface is the cornerstone of an excellent user experience. We paid close attention to the user interface, ensuring it’s intuitive, easy to navigate, and doesn’t steepen the learning curve for new users. The best Adobe Acrobat alternative should simplify the process of editing, viewing, and managing PDF documents, making these tasks a breeze even for the less tech-savvy individuals.

Feature-rich markup tools

Markup tools are indispensable for annotating, commenting, and editing PDF documents. We sought alternatives equipped with a robust set of markup tools that allow for seamless text highlighting, underlining, and the ability to add notes and comments. These features foster collaborative work on documents, making it easy to review and provide feedback.

Desktop version and web browser accessibility

Accessibility across different platforms is key in today’s digital age. We considered alternatives that offer both a desktop version and web browser access, ensuring that you can work on your documents anytime, anywhere. This cross-platform accessibility enhances flexibility and ensures that you’re not tethered to a single device.

Batch process capability

Efficiency was a top priority, and the ability to batch process multiple documents simultaneously stood out as a valuable feature. Whether it’s converting, compressing, or merging PDF files, batch processing saves time and accelerates workflow, which is why we considered this feature crucial in our selection.

Watermark and permissions

Controlling the distribution and usage of your documents is vital. We explored how each alternative handles watermarking and permissions. Being able to add watermarks protects your documents from unauthorized use, while permission settings allow you to control who can view, edit, or share your documents.

Licensing flexibility

The license under which the software is provided was another critical consideration. We searched for alternatives that offer a flexible licensing model, ensuring that individuals and businesses can find a suitable option that aligns with their needs and budget constraints.

Now, as we delve into the highlights of the five selected Adobe Acrobat alternatives, you’ll find a detailed analysis of how each one fares in the above criteria, providing a clear picture of what to expect.

With a balanced blend of essential features and user-friendly interfaces, these alternatives are poised to cater to a wide array of PDF editing and management needs without breaking the bank.

Best Adobe Acrobat free alternative – Nitro PDF Pro

Nitro PDF Pro is a top contender when it comes to finding an alternative to Adobe Acrobat. With its impressive features and seamless user experience, Nitro PDF Pro offers a compelling solution for all your PDF editing needs.

One of the standout features of Nitro PDF Pro is its intuitive interface, making it easy for users to navigate and utilize the software’s extensive toolkit. From creating and editing PDF documents to performing OCR and converting files to and from PDFs, Nitro PDF Pro covers all the essential PDF editing tasks with precision.

While Nitro PDF Pro excels in most areas, the only slight drawback is the editing of existing PDF content, which could be more seamless. However, this minor inconvenience is overshadowed by the software’s robust features, including a reliable OCR tool and impressive conversion capabilities.


  • Very user-friendly
  • Allows automation of workflows
  • Makes collaboration extremely easy
  • Very flexible


  • Only has a free trial period

Best for editing – PDF Reader Pro

If you’re looking for a powerful free alternative to Adobe Acrobat, PDF Reader Pro is an excellent choice. This streamlined PDF creator and editor offers a range of powerful features while being lightweight and fast. PDF Reader Pro is compatible with low-end PCs, making it accessible to users with various system specifications.

With PDF Reader Pro, you can easily create, compress, merge, and convert PDF files. The software also includes OCR and eSign features, allowing for efficient document management. The clean and fresh interface of PDF Reader Pro enhances productivity, ensuring that you can quickly find the tools you need to work with PDFs effectively.


  • User-friendly
  • Allows digital signatures
  • Can edit text as well as images
  • Multiple converts


  • The free version has some limitations

Best for browser – SmallPDF

SmallPDF is a versatile online PDF tool that offers a wide range of features for creating, editing, converting, and compressing PDF files. Whether you need to merge multiple PDFs, convert files to different formats, or compress large PDFs, SmallPDF has got you covered.

One of the standout features of SmallPDF is its integration with popular cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Gmail. This allows for seamless access to your PDF files and simplifies the workflow of managing and sharing documents.

While SmallPDF offers a free version with limited functionality, its premium plans unlock additional features and remove restrictions. With its intuitive interface and extensive capabilities, SmallPDF proves to be a powerful alternative to Adobe Acrobat.


  • Very convenient and easy to use
  • Intuitive and well-organized interface
  • Tons of PDF tools
  • Supports drag and drop


  • Conversion issues with complex documents

Best for offline work – PDF24 Creator

PDF24 Creator is a free software that provides a streamlined PDF creation and editing experience. It offers a comprehensive set of features for managing PDF files, making it a popular choice among users seeking a free alternative to Adobe Acrobat.

With PDF24 Creator, you can easily combine, split, and merge PDF pages. The software also includes tools for compressing, converting, and editing PDF files. Despite being free software, PDF24 Creator offers powerful features that go above and beyond basic PDF editing tools.

The interface of PDF24 Creator is clean and user-friendly, allowing for a seamless workflow. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced user, PDF24 Creator provides the necessary tools to handle your PDF documents efficiently.


  • An easy-to-use interface
  • Generates results fast
  • Super easy to install
  • Compatible with all versions of Windows


  • Lack of font options

Best for security – Sejda

Sejda is an online PDF editor that offers a convincing set of features for editing, signing, and sharing PDF files. With its user-friendly interface and intuitive workflow, Sejda provides a seamless experience for both casual users and professionals.

One of the standout features of Sejda is its robust security process. All files uploaded to the server are automatically deleted after two hours, ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of your documents. This makes Sejda an ideal choice for businesses that prioritize data protection and compliance.

While the free version of Sejda has certain limitations, such as a restricted number of tasks per day and file size limitations, its affordable premium plans unlock unlimited access to all features. From editing text and images to adding annotations and signatures, Sejda offers a comprehensive set of tools for PDF manipulation.


  • Very easy to use
  • Allows easy manipulation of PDF files
  • Online and desktop versions are available
  • Offers a wide selection of tools


  • Difficulty in processing large PDF files with many pages
  • The free version has a daily usage limit


In a domain where Adobe Acrobat has long been revered, discovering the best Adobe Acrobat free alternatives opens up new vistas of possibilities. The range of free alternatives highlighted in this article not only stand their ground against Adobe Acrobat but offer a blend of robust features paired with user-friendly interfaces.

Be it editing a singular PDF file, merging an array of PDF documents, or compressing a hefty PDF file to a manageable size, there’s a befitting free Adobe Acrobat alternative awaiting your exploration. If you’re after more free software tips, we’ve got a great guide to the best free word processors which you might want to check out.

Maria is a contributer to PC Guide, highly-interested in productivity and AI tools, and ensuring the inclusion of detailed product info and coverage across versus pieces.