A complete guide to working with PDF: an overview of paid and free programs + life hacks

By | August 22, 2021

A complete guide to working with PDF

PDF (Portable Document Format) is a popular format for creating, distributing and printing e-books, forms, forms, documents, etc. The main advantage is that it allows you to display documents equally on all types of devices and avoid compatibility problems. For example, the same doc file may look different in different versions of Word (or its analogues). With PDF, there are no problems with the display. Although another one appears-with editing.

You can open pdf files directly in the browser, but editing them is not so easy:

This requires special applications or programs.
Full-fledged editing in free mode with the help of one program is impossible, so you have to contrive using several options at once.
Sometimes the text can be presented as an image, then it will not be possible to edit it without preliminary recognition.
In this article, I will give a brief overview of paid and free PDF editors, and also share some life hacks that I use when working with the format.

Table of contents:
Programs for working with PDF
Adobe Acrobat
Foxit Phantom
PDFelement
PDF-Xchange Editor
PDFescape
PDFsam
Alternative free ways to work with PDF
How to create
How to edit
How to split, connect, delete pages
How to convert a file from PDF to another format
How to protect a pdf
Conclusions
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Programs for working with PDF
Let’s look at several popular paid programs for working with PDF in Russian. Some of them have a set of free functions, so they will be useful even for those who do not want to pay for a license.

Adobe Acrobat
Download

Trial version: 7 days

Cost: $ 12.99 per month

OS: Windows, Mac OS

The PDF format was originally developed by Adobe, so the editor allows you to do almost everything with your “brainchild”: edit, organize, convert, recognize, optimize, protect, sign and much more.

It is very easy to organize pages (add, delete, move) here
It is very easy to organize pages (add, delete, move) here
The program is convenient, the set of functions is impressive, plus a version for smartphones and tablets is available. But some features are not necessary for an ordinary user (sharing, adding scripts and multimedia, comparing files, etc.), so the editor is more suitable for business purposes.

If you need to trim something once a week, correct it or set a password, it is better to choose an alternative option. After all, Adobe products are intended primarily for professionals, and the benefits of using them are felt in conjunction with other developer applications. Installing Creative Cloud just because of Acrobat is a so-so idea. In addition, this process is long and tedious, and the program itself is heavy and often slows down.

Free analogues of popular programs: we are looking for a replacement for Adobe, MS Office and the rest of the bourgeoisie
Foxit Phantom
Download

Trial version: 14 days

Cost: Standart – 8 114.24 rubles. (or subscription – $ 13.99 per month), Business-10 001.28 rubles. (or subscription – $ 14.99 per month)

OS: Windows, Mac OS

An editor with a huge set of functions, almost as good as Adobe Acrobat (there is also everything you need for collaboration). In terms of speed, the Foxit Phantom clearly surpasses its main competitor. Although the subscription costs a little more, but the developers give you the opportunity to use it for life for a reasonable price.

The built-in OCR quite accurately recognized the contents of the scanned book, although Acrobat coped with the same task better – the appearance of the document remained as close as possible to the original
The built-in OCR quite accurately recognized the contents of the scanned book, although Acrobat coped with the same task better – the appearance of the document remained as close as possible to the original
The developers of the editor also offer a free Foxit Reader, in which, in addition to reading, you can create new files, sign documents and add comments.

PDFelement
Download

Trial version: unlimited with limited functionality

Cost: 1999 rubles / quarter, 3499 rubles/year, 5999 rubles (personal license)

OS: Windows, Mac OS

Another worthy competitor of Adobe (even the program interfaces are very similar) with more affordable prices. In fact, there is no free full-fledged version – until you buy a license, the files will be saved with watermarks. Plus, the OCR package will have to be downloaded additionally.

Pdfelement is fully compatible with Adobe Acrobat and even has a similar interface
Pdfelement is fully compatible with Adobe Acrobat and even has a similar interface
In addition to the desktop version, the developers also offer mobile applications: for iOS it is a full-fledged editor, and for Android it is a convenient reader with the ability to comment.

PDF-Xchange Editor
Download

Trial version: unlimited with limited functionality

Cost: $43.50

OS: Windows 7 and higher

A powerful editor with extensive functionality. The developers claim that more than 60 % of the program’s functions are available without a license. In fact, many important options for the average user are not available. For example, if you want to delete or change images, the file will be saved with watermarks without paying for a license.

Nevertheless, the program is very useful. There is also an extended version of PDF-XChange Editor Plus (with the ability to create forms and dynamic stamps), which costs a little more -54.50 $

The program allows you to freely (without a license) edit the text, but you can not touch the pictures
The program allows you to freely (without a license) edit the text, but you can not touch the pictures
For free and without restrictions, you can:

split a document;
merge pages;
edit the text;
export a document to an image of any format;
save it as an Excel spreadsheet.
In general, it is a useful thing and is clearly worth installing on your computer.

Useful services and extensions for working with text
PDFescape
Download, web version

Trial version: Premium – 7 days, Ultimate-5 days.

Cost: Premium – $ 2.99 per month, Ultimate – $ 5.99 per month, the browser version is free.

OS: Windows 7 and higher

To use the desktop version, you need to register and activate one of the necessary tariffs (Premium or Ultimate).

There are a lot of options, it’s difficult to understand, it’s inconvenient to work (maybe you just need to get used to it)
There are a lot of options, it’s difficult to understand, it’s inconvenient to work (maybe you just need to get used to it)
The interface is a bit complicated for a beginner and not quite intuitive. There are many options, including the ability to create your own stamps. Document signing, encryption, and password protection are only available in the Ultimate version.

The online version is completely free, but with restrictions: the maximum file size is 10 MB, the volume is up to 100 pages. You can increase the limit if you purchase a premium account. Another disadvantage is the interface in English.

It is not very convenient to work in online mode: I did not even find a banal “cancel” button
It is not very convenient to work in online mode: I did not even find a banal “cancel” button
What you can do for free:

delete, move, rotate, crop the page;
merge files (append);
add a note, underline, cross out, highlight text;
insert text, image, link, interactive element (form, switch, etc.).
You can’t edit the existing text, but you can use the whiteout tool, which will hide it, and add a new one on top. But it will work if the page has a white background. In addition, you will have to spend time on font selection and text alignment.

Work better: an overview of 19 tools for productive work
PDFsam
Download

Trial version: 14 days (PDFsam Visual)

Cost: PDFsam Enhanced-from 39 to 69 $ per year, PDFsam Visual-29€, PDFsam Basic-free of charge.

OS: Windows, Linux, Mac OS (PDFsam Enhanced – only for Windows)

The paid extended version of PDFsam Enhanced is visually and in terms of a set of functions very similar to the previously discussed PDFescape. But there are completely different restrictions for free use.

The interface also resembles the usual office suite from Microsoft
The interface also resembles the usual office suite from Microsoft
After registration, you will receive a key that allows you to activate the pdf creation module (from any files). This is the only free module in this version. To fully use all the modules, you will have to purchase the pro version for $49. If you also need text recognition, the PRO+OCR tariff will cost even more – $ 69 per year.

PDFsam Visual is another version of the editor that allows you to perform various manipulations with pages in visual mode. There are already fewer options here (mainly the organization of the document – deleting, splitting, merging pages, etc.), so the cost is lower.

The most useful version of this set is PDFsam Basic. Its functionality is limited, but you do not need to pay for using it.

The program performs only seven functions, but it does it much better than an online editor
The program performs only seven functions, but it does it much better than an online editor
In the free basic version, you can:

split and merge documents;
extract, bookmark, rotate pages;
alternate pages of different files;
split files by size (for example, save a 10 MB book in several 2 MB parts).
The program does not take up much space on the computer (it weighs only 15 MB), unlike online applications, it is always available.

A writer for himself: how to write, design and distribute e-books
Alternative free ways to work with PDF
Now let’s see how to perform various manipulations with PDF without buying specialized software.

How to create

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