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 Open Source PDF Editors
You're probably wondering if UPDF is any good, considering it is being offered free of cost. 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.
Key features include full-fledged PDF editing, advanced PDF form creation and filling, extensive PDF annotations, password security, easy PDF page, and file management, PDF signing (digital signature or handwritten signature), PDF conversion to and from other formats, and advanced OCR to convert scanned PDFs or image-based text to editable text PDFs.
- Free for any type of use - no purchase needed
- Extensive basic and advanced PDF utilities
- Excellent PDF reader, viewer, and virtual PDF printer
- Multiple layers of enterprise-grade PDF protection
- Easy to create and add digital signatures that can be verified for legal purposes
- Excellent conversion quality - consistent formatting, fast conversion, etc.
- Supports Mac and Windows
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.
- Browser-based utility - access from any location or device
- Simple tabbed navigation
- Clean layout
- Primitive UI
- Not much product support
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.
- 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
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.
- PDF editing - 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
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.
- 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 100% free of cost and for Windows as well as Mac systems. You can then reap the benefits of a truly premium PDF editor that is not open source but completely free to use. Other benefits include a beautiful and attractive UI, fast processing speeds, and a suite of tools not usually found in a free PDF editor with multi-platform support.
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