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Best free PDF editors in 2022

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Are you looking to modify a PDF? You can make changes to any Portable Document Format file with the best free PDF editors. It is impossible to expect to have all the advanced features that a paid PDF editor offers.

Many free PDF editors allow you to create and edit Portable Document Format files. These are likely all you will need for occasional use. You can also save a webpage as a PDF. If you are going to be creating and editing PDF files regularly, it might be worth investing in one of the best PDF to JPG editors. This will allow you to get into the PDF’s core.

The best free PDF editors are for everyone. They offer basic editing and document-creation capabilities and sometimes add some unexpected extras.

Free PDF editors may not offer all the same features. Some don’t offer much. Many PDF file editors let you edit and annotate PDF files. Some even recognize scanned text — all for no charge.

Half a dozen of the free PDF editors we tested were able to be compared to the most expensive paid ones. These are our top picks for free PDF editors.

Which are the best PDF editors for free?

PDF Candy is the best choice if you are looking for a free PDF editor. PDF Candy has many of the same features as a paid version, including text scanning and file-conversion capabilities.

PDFescape is a close second behind PDF Candy. It offers excellent annotation, form-creation, and editing tools as a free service. There are two paid tiers.

Mac users will not be disappointed by the PDF-editing tools included with their MacBook or iMac. Preview is part of macOS. It includes image-editing as well as annotation tools. If you just need to attach an electronic signature to a pdf, it should be your first choice.

We also tested FormSwift which is a great option for those who work with forms and Smallpdf which is a simple program that converts files. Smallpdf, like Preview, is great for adding electronic signatures.

Free PDF editors that you can use

1. PDF Candy

Free PDF Editor


Developer: Icecream Apps

Compatibility: Chrome Firefox, Edge, Opera and Safari

Category: File conversion, OCR, PDF editing

Upgrade from the free version: None



+OCR feature+Extensive files-conversion/-creation features+Solid pdf-layout tools


-Limited text editing features

PDF Candy is one of the most compelling free PDF editors. This is mainly because it has an OCR option that is not available in any other free PDF editors.

Although you cannot edit OCR text within PDF Candy’s web-based PDF Editor, you can upload a PDF document and have PDF Candy extract the text to create a text file, RTF file, or Word document in both.docx and.docx formats.

PDF Candy has a formidable tool collection. There are 44 tools available to convert or create PDF files. You will also find tools to reorganize pages in a document, add watermarks, protect PDF files with passcodes and edit metadata within a pdf file.

These tasks can be done in a few steps: select the tool, upload a document, and allow PDF Candy to do its magic.

You’ll receive a list of other tools that you can use to accomplish different tasks after you complete one task in a document. After you’ve made your changes, you can either download or upload the new document. PDF Candy stores all your documents in a list so that you can quickly download them all after you have finished making any changes.

Although the text-editing tools available in PDF Candy are limited, the rest of the PDF Candy features make it stand out from the free alternatives.

2. PDFescape

An abundance of annotation tools available for free


Red Software for Developers

Compatibility: Chrome Firefox, Edge, Opera and Safari

Category: PDF annotation

Upgrade to a paid version: $36 (premium), $72(ultimate) per annum



+Web-based annotations tools are simple to use+The page limit has been increased to 100+Impressive feature set is available for a free application


-Very limited fonts

PDFescape is a great option for online PDF editing. PDFescape is simple to use and accessible to everyone with a web browser. It may be all that you need to edit or annotate PDF files.

PDFescape is used to limit PDFescape’s file size to either 10MB or 50 pages. The 10MB file size limit is still in effect, but files up to 100 pages can be edited for free.

PDFescape has many annotation tools. The app allows you to fill out forms and insert text and links. You can also highlight text, add sticky comments, strike out or redact text, crop images, and rotate images.

However, you will have to deal with very limited font options. PDFescape has five fonts. One font is a generic signature font that doesn’t look like your signature. You’ll also find many more tools in PDFescape that you would in a bare-bones PDF editor.

3. Apple Preview

Mac users have a free choice


Apple Developer

Compatibility with macOS

Category: – PDF annotation; image editing

Upgrade from the free version: None



+Included with every Mac+Includes photo-editing tools+Excellent annotating tools and options to add signatures to documents


-Not available on other platforms-Markup tools can be difficult to find-No OCR

Apple’s Preview app is included in every macOS version, including macOS Big Sur. It can open PDF files and offers many other image-editing capabilities. It’s the ultimate multitool in image editing, capable of opening almost any image file.

Preview’s markup capabilities don’t seem to be the most obvious when you open it for the first time. However, you will find basic tools for turning pages and highlighting text in the basic toolbar.

Preview’s complete set of markup tools is available when you click the small markup button that looks similar to a pencil tip next to the Preview search tool.

These markup tools include options for text selection, drawing tools that can be used to add freehand drawings and shapes to a document, and a text tool to add additional text to the document. You can also use these tools to create your signature with your Mac’s camera or tablet.

A preview is an excellent option for basic PDF editing. If you have a Mac, it is as easy as opening the app to access Preview’s capabilities.

4. FormSwift

Great source of forms


Developer: King Street Labs LLC

Compatibility: Chrome Firefox, Edge, Opera, and Safari

Category: PDF Annotation for Legal Forms

Upgrade to a paid version: $89/year


+Extensive library with legal and business forms + Solid annotation tools


-Limited text tools -No way to modify existing text

FormSwift is a different approach to PDF editing. It allows you to upload and modify PDF files. However, you also have the option of filling out legal and business forms online. You can download them as PDF files or Word documents.

FormSwift’s offerings were excellent. It is worth looking if you need basic documents like 1099s, lease agreements, and minutes of business meetings.

Once you have added all the necessary information, all forms can be completed online. You can also download blank forms and fill them out locally.

The process for PDF editing is very simple. Drag the file to your browser (maximum 10MB) and then use FormSwift to add text and images, highlight, redact and erase text, and sign documents.

The text tools in FormSwift are very limited. There are four fonts available. You can resize the fonts to any size you like, as well as make changes to the text styles and colors. You can add text to your document by adding a text field, inserting new text, and then adjusting the text.

However, there are no other options than redacting existing text to make changes. All other tools work as expected. A signature tool lets you sign documents using your keyboard, mouse, or uploaded images.

5. Smallpdf

Useful for file conversion


Smallpdf GmbH is the developer

Compatibility: Chrome Firefox, Edge, Opera, and Safari

Category: PDF conversion and Editing

Upgrade to a paid version: $108/year



+Basic editing tools to PDFs+Includes files conversion tools


No annotation or markup features. Limited font options. Limit of 2 documents per day

Smallpdf’s online PDF editing service is very basic, allowing you to make minor changes to your documents.

Smallpdf’s free features may be more appealing to you. These tools can convert PDF files to Word or Excel and PowerPoint. Each of these file types can be converted to PDF.

Smallpdf, as simple as it is, can be used to add pages or compress PDF documents. There are also tools that allow you to add signatures to PDF documents, similar to the ones available in Apple’s Preview app on a Mac.

All this is possible with no file-size restrictions, however, Smallpdf allows you to process only two documents each day. You can do more with the Pro plan. This gives you access to Smallpdf desktop apps and unlimited processing.

You can start Smallpdf just like any other online PDF editor by dragging the file to your browser.

You have four options for editing PDFs: Add Text or Add Image, Add Shape, Draw, and Add Text. There are no ways to highlight text or add comments. You should consider other options if you are looking to add annotations or mark up a PDF file.

Even though the four options seem sufficient, you will still feel restricted within each tool. You have five options for size and no font choices when you add text. However, you can choose from serif, sans serif, or monotype font styles. There are also seven font colors.

Although Smallpdf doesn’t have the basic tools for editing PDF files it is much more useful for adding electronic signatures and converting, compressing, or merging files.

How to select the best PDF editor free for you

The best free PDF editor can be compared to choosing a paid one. Identify what you need from a PDF file, and then choose the program that has the right features.

It can be as easy as choosing whether you need a PDF editor to create and edit documents or if you simply want one that can make comments and offer suggestions for digital files.

This is free software. You should be aware of any restrictions that may be imposed on the free tier. Are there any restrictions on how large you can edit documents? Or are some tools behind a paywall? If yes to both of these questions, then you need to decide if it is worth paying for this particular feature.

Check to make sure your computer has the right software for PDF editing. For Mac users, Preview can be a great tool for adding signatures and annotations to PDFs. If you already have the best free PDF editor, it will save you a lot of time.

We test PDF editors for free

We use the same testing process for free PDF editors as when we test the paid versions. However, we take into account the limitations of free software. Both general PDF editors and applications specifically for annotations are considered.

There are a variety of document types that I use when looking at free PDF editors. They all comply with the file-size limits. These include files that are heavy in text, documents with multiple formatted images, and simple documents where text and images are inserted in a linear manner.

Although text recognition is not a common feature in free apps, I tried it out when it was. I tried adding annotations, changing text, and replacing images with them.

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