Now that Adobe has been acquired by Microsoft, who knows what the future holds for its programs? Maybe in 2022 Acrobat will be the most popular PDF editing program in the world. Or maybe it won’t! In any case, here are some of the best Adobe Acrobat alternatives around at this time of writing in 2018, including Foxit’s desktop and mobile apps, Icessian’s cloud-based software, Nitro Pro’s subscription service, and more.
The best free alternative
Foxit Reader is one of the most popular, open-source programs. It’s a viable free alternative to Adobe Acrobat in that it can read PDFs. You may need to purchase or download third-party add-ons to make other edits (like filling out forms), but if you don’t need anything else this is a good choice. In our testing, we found its functionality bested that of many similar products by at least double in terms of clarity and speed.
It was also the only reader with an advanced search feature that allowed us to find specific keywords within documents. If you’re looking for something more powerful than Foxit Reader, try Nitro Pro. The downside? It costs $50 per user per year after a 30-day trial period. The trial does allow unlimited saving of files so long as they are under 50 MB, though; and if your needs are limited to viewing files without editing them then it might be worth the investment.
The best cheap alternative
Foxit PhantomPDF is an excellent, low-cost alternative to the expensive Adobe Acrobat suite. It has all the basic features one would need to create PDFs, including the ability to edit PDF files without conversion. Another great feature of this application is its ability to create encrypted PDF files as well as regular ones; this is excellent for protecting sensitive information.
The downside of using a cheaper option like Foxit PhantomPDF is that you may not be able to do some things you might with a more advanced program. For example, it doesn’t allow users to add animation or video in a PDF file, which is something you can do in other more expensive programs such as Adobe Acrobat Pro. Additionally, it does not offer the ability to export your document into different formats such as Microsoft Word or Excel. However, it’s still quite an affordable way to make documents and protect them when necessary.
The best high-end alternative
If you want a high-end alternative, we recommend using PDF XChange Viewer. The great thing about this software is that it has the same core functionality as Adobe Acrobat Reader but it is also possible to edit text, signatures, scanned images or drawings. In fact, PDF XChange Viewer does not have any limitations – it can be used for everything that you would need to do with a PDF document. It supports printing, forms and annotations so it’s perfect for all your needs.
And best of all, it’s available for Windows and MacOS which means you can use it on whichever computer you prefer. The only downside is that there are no trial versions of PDF XChange Viewer so you’ll have to purchase it before you know if it will work for your needs. However, if you’re happy with Adobe Acrobat Reader, then this software might not be necessary for you.
How to export PDFs in other formats
We’ll now explore several other methods for exporting PDFs to other formats. The first involves using pdftk. Pdftk is a command line tool that works much like the above mentioned PDFCreator tool. You can find pdftk on the internet, or download it here. To export pdfs with pdftk, you must specify the following commands:
pdftk file1.pdf cat 1-3 outputFile2.pdf
pdftk inputFile1.pdf inputFile2.pdf output combinedFiles_newname_all_pages.pdf
pdftk A=inputfile1 B=inputfile2 C=output DONE -x ps -y cc -z lj
The above example exports page 3 of inputfile1 and page 4 of inputfile2 into combinedFiles_newname_all_pages, but you could also choose to export pages 1-3 or just pages 2-4 of each file respectively if needed. Furthermore, you may use wildcards (*) in your path names to target only files of a certain name or location.
You may also delete individual pages from an existing PDF by specifying which page numbers should be deleted in the command prompt window. For instance, pdftk inputFile1.pdf Page1 delete would remove Page 1 from inputFile1. pdf. It’s important to note that this does not change the original PDF, it only deletes the page itself from the resulting file. The final way we will cover for exporting PDFs as another format is to convert them to images (e.g., JPEG). You can do this with ImageMagick’s convert utility.
Simply enter convert inputFileName_Pagenumber outputFileName at a terminal prompt or Windows Command Prompt (under Run as Administrator). Once again, be aware that this process does not alter the original PDF; instead, it creates a new image file containing what was visible on that particular page of the document when converted.
One thing to note about these techniques is that they often produce large file sizes and slow processing times. If you’re looking for something fast, then converting PDFs to JPEGs might work best since they are typically smaller than most conversions, though still larger than a PNG or GIF file generated from the same document.
ImageMagick offers some nice conversion tools, but you may need to make adjustments depending on your needs. For instance, if you have too many lines per inch (lpi), then reduce it by adding lpi 75 to the end of your command prompt window text box before running ImageMagick’s convert utility. Similarly, adjust resolution by adding resolution 300 before running the converter.
Some additional things to keep in mind include viewing/hiding all annotations/comments/markups before converting and considering whether watermarks should be included before continuing with the conversion process.