Make changes to your PDF files with these free online programs and tools.
It’s not easy finding a completely free PDF editor that allows you to edit the text in PDF, add your text, change images, add your graphics, sign it, fill out the form… However, below is just a combination of the best free PDF editors covering all of those features and more.
Some of them are an online PDF editor that works right in your web browser, so you need to upload the PDF file to the website, make the changes you want and then save it back to your computer. That’s a quick way, but the online editor is often not quite the same as the desktop counterpart, often more capable.
Since not all free PDF editors support the same features, and some are limited to what you can do, keep in mind that you can process the same PDF in multiple task instruments. For example, use one to edit PDF documents (if supported) and then put the same PDF file through another editor to do something supported in that program, like editing a template, updating images, or deleting pages.
Note: If you don’t need to change the PDF file contents but instead change it to another format (like DOCX for Word or EPUB for an e-book, etc.), see our list of Free document converters. On the other hand, if you have a self-created file that you want to save as a PDF file, please see the How to Create a PDF tutorial for help.
Important: If you already own Microsoft Word 2016 or 2013, then skip all the programs suggested below because you have a great PDF editor at your disposal right now. Just open the PDF like any Word document, give the program a few minutes to convert the PDF, and then edit!
1. Sejda PDF Editor
Sejda PDF Editor is one of the very few PDF editors I’ve seen that lets you edit text previously in PDF without adding a watermark. Most editors will only edit the text you add yourself or assist with text editing but then throw watermarks all over the place.
Plus, this tool can run entirely in your web browser, so it’s straightforward to go without having to download any programs. You can, however, get the desktop version if you want.
What we like:
Existing text can be edited and added custom text
The online editor allows you to download PDF files from other websites
Support to add hyperlinks
Includes signature tool
Allows you to insert blank pages into PDF
Pages can be deleted from PDF
Supports whiting out parts of the page
Can insert images and shapes into PDF
What we don’t like:
Can only be used on three PDF files per hour
Limited to PDF files under 200 pages
Do not edit PDF files larger than 50 MB
Works with: Windows, macOS, and Linux
Access Sejda Online PDF Editor
There are a few differences between the desktop and online versions that you need to know about. For example, the desktop version supports more fonts and doesn’t let you add PDF files by URL or from online storage services like online editors (Dropbox and Google Drive support).
A neat feature supported by Sejda’s PDF editor is their web integration tool that allows PDF publishers to provide a link to their users that they can click to open files automatically in this online PDF editor.
All uploaded files are automatically deleted from Sejda after 5 hours.
Tip: Sejda desktop and online services can also convert PDF to Word or Word to PDF. Open the Tools section in either program to find that conversion option.
Inkscape is a trendy free photo editor and viewer, but it also includes PDF editing functions that most specialized PDF editors support only in their paid versions.
What we like:
Can edit PDF documents
Supports graphics manipulation
Includes many image editing tools
What we don’t like:
The number of graphic editing tools can be overwhelming
Inscape is an excellent image editing program but probably shouldn’t be used by people who aren’t familiar with programs like this. It is similar to GIMP, Adobe Photoshop, and other photo editors.
However, if used in the context of PDF editing, Inkscape should only be considered if you want to delete or edit images or text in a PDF. Our suggestion is to use another tool on this list to edit PDF forms or add shapes, then plug that PDF file into Inkscape if you need to edit the text beforehand.
3. PDFescape Online PDF Editor
PDFescape is a great online PDF editor with lots of features. It’s 100% free as long as the PDF doesn’t exceed 100 pages or 10 MB in size.
You can download PDF files from your computer, URL, SharePoint, Google Drive, or Dropbox. Edited PDFs can be saved to your computer or to any file hosting service.
The PDF-XChange Editor program has a ton of features, so it seems overwhelming at first. However, all the options and tools are simple to understand and categorize into their more manageable management sections.
One nice feature is the ability to highlight all of the form fields, so it is easy to know where you need to fill in the information. This is useful if you edit a PDF file with multiple forms, like an application of some sort.
Although they lead to watermarks in the free version, this program allows you to edit existing text, add your text to PDF, and add or delete pages from documents.
You can download the program in portable mode for use on a flash drive or as a regular installer.
Many of the features are free, but some are not. If you use a part that is not protected by the free version (you are told features are not open when you use them), the saved PDF will have a watermark attached to the corners of each page.
5. Smallpdf Online PDF Editor
One of the fastest ways to add your images, text, shapes, or signature to a PDF is with Smallpdf.
This website makes it easy to upload a PDF, make your changes, and save it to your computer without creating a user account or paying for any watermarking features.
What we like:
All features are free
Allows you to add text to PDF
It is possible to put white spaces on areas you want to erase
Supports import of shapes
Can download and save PDF files from a variety of sources
When you are finished editing the PDF file, you can download the file as a PDF file, print it directly to the printer, or save the PDF file as a Microsoft Word DOCX document.
Note: Converting PDF to DOCX doesn’t work for all the PDFs we tried, but for the ones it did, the image is nicely formatted, and the text is fully editable.
Another feature provided by FormSwift at formswift.com/snap lets you quickly edit or sign PDF files from your phone by taking a picture of the document. You can then share it or download a PDF when you’re done. It’s not 100% perfect since most everything done through a web application is spotty, but it works if you have the patience.
You can also upload Word documents and images to FormSwift if you need to edit them instead of PDF.
7. PDFelement Pro
PDFelement Pro, like the sound’s name, is free but with one major limitation: it will put a watermark on every page of the PDF. That said, the watermark doesn’t cover most of the pages, and it’s essential to realize that it supports some great PDF editing features.
What we like:
Allows you to edit PDF documents directly
Supports adding custom images, links, and watermarks