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5 Best Open Source PDF Editor Applications

Many people looking for a free open source PDF editor are actually searching for a free PDF editor with powerful functionality. Until now, the open source community has been their last - and only - resort.

But what if there were a PDF editor with advanced features such as PDF editing, annotations, and other features offered 100% free of cost? It's technically not an open source PDF editor because it's still a premium proprietary utility, but it's free to use for any purpose, whether it's business, education, the legal profession, creative fields, or even personal use. Let's look at this as well as the best open source PDF editor applications.

Top 5 Free and Best Open Source PDF Editors

1: UPDF - Proprietary Premium PDF Editor

You're probably wondering if UPDF is any good. But one look at the features list and the benefits you can gain in terms of workflow productivity and document management efficiency is enough to make anyone take a second look.

open source pdf editor updf

Key features include full-fledged PDF editing text and image, extensive PDF annotations including highlights, notes, stamps, shapes, stickers, etc., PDF page and file management, and so on.


  • Excellent PDF reader and virtual PDF printer.
  • Many markup tools such as highlight, underline, shapes, stickers, and so on.
  • Easy to create handwritten signatures in PDF.
  • Quickly delete, extract, replace, and insert pages to PDF.


  • Extensive basic and advanced PDF utilities.
  • Support Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.
  • It doesn't matter how big the file is, it still runs fast.
  • Beautiful UI interface.

Video Tutorial on How to Edit a PDF File on Windows

2: PDFescape

Although the functionality is quite limited compared to UPDF, PDFescape has been around since 2007, making it one of the oldest online open-source PDF editors of its kind. As an online tool, it can be used on any browser (updated to the latest version) on a connected device. The limited features consist primarily of annotation and page manipulation tools, along with content addition (images and text), etc. It's not a true PDF editor because you can't modify existing text the way you can do with UPDF, but it's a handy tool when you need to quickly make additions or modify a PDF on the go or when you're not on your regular computer.

open source pdf editor pdfescape


  • Browser-based utility - access from any location or device
  • Simple tabbed navigation
  • Clean layout


  • Primitive UI
  • Not much product support

3: PDFCreator and PDF Architect

Both applications were created by pdfforge, but PDFCreator is an open source PDF editor - or, more precisely, an open source PDF creation utility for Windows. PDF Architect allows PDF editing but it is sold as a premium product.

You can use PDF Architect for free but the functionality is limited to converting Word and other formats to PDF, and a few page organizing tools such as rotate, move, and delete PDF pages. If you handle heavy PDF workflows with extensive conversion and other requirements, we recommend PDF Architect. As an open-source PDF editor, PDFCreator is an option you can explore.

open source pdf editor windows pdfcreator


  • Easy PDF creation tool - PDFCreator
  • Good formatting consistency during conversion
  • A simple and affordable upgrade to PDF Architect Standard, Pro, or Pro+OCR from the free version


  • The free version does not include PDF editing
  • Very limited tools other than view, create, and manage PDF

4: PDFedit

This is a great open-source PDF editor with a lot of functionality, but it is limited to older Windows versions running 32-bit Windows. While that's pretty much obsolete now, a lot of small businesses still run 32-bit Windows, which makes PDFedit a simple and lightweight tool that won't hog up valuable resources on their aging PCs and local networks. PDFedit features include PDF editing, file conversion, password protection for PDFs, adding annotations, handling graphic objects, and so on.

free open source pdf editor pdfedit


  • Edit PDF - delete and add text and images
  • Ample free tools to manage relatively light PDF workflows
  • Highly customizable


  • Might be difficult for inexperienced users to master
  • No advanced PDF tools are built-in

5: LibreOffice Draw

LibreOffice is a suite comprising an open source PDF editor and other tools. LibreOffice Draw is the default application to open PDFs. The file will open as an image, and the user can make use of the available annotation and drawing tools to modify the content.

The content itself can be selected as blocks for modification, and the user can then take the output once again as a PDF file. This versatility is what makes it one of the best open source PDF editors that's free to use.

best open source pdf editor libreoffice draw


  • Supports 64-bit Windows, Mac, and Linux distros
  • Block-style PDF editing
  • Also handles image-based PDFs but as an annotation tool


  • Doesn't have OCR to convert to editable PDF
  • Limited file conversion options


Looking at all the free open source PDF editor tools we've showcased today, one thing is amply clear - that open source and free applications are either hard to use, limited in features, or both. UPDF is the only exception to that rule, offering a range of advanced PDF tools.

You can then reap the benefits of a truly premium PDF editor. Other benefits include a beautiful and attractive UI, fast processing speeds, and a suite of tools not usually found in a PDF editor with multi-platform support.