7 Top-Rated Affordable PDF Editor Software

By: Barkha Bali on May 14, 2024

Imagine you’re a realtor. You’ve created a perfectly formatted PDF listing ready to email to a potential buyer. But you forgot to update the square footage. Without a PDF editor, you would have to convert the PDF to a less secure format (such as Word) for editing and then convert it back to PDF, risking formatting errors and potential security breaches. However, with a PDF editor, you can make changes directly to the document, ensuring efficiency and document security.

PDF editors enable you to edit text, images, and other content within PDF files, and add annotations, comments, and digital signatures. Yet, selecting one solution that aligns with unique feature requirements and budget can be confusing.

This article lists seven top-rated affordable PDF editor software solutions based on verified user reviews and pricing found on vendor websites. Per our research, we’ve considered products with base plans priced less than $28 per month as affordable software and arranged them in ascending order of their prices.

All products listed in the article are dedicated PDF editor solutions, offering convert to PDF, text editing, and image editing as core features.

What is a base software plan?

A base plan is the most affordable pricing tier offered by a software provider. Besides having the lowest price, base plans provide access to all core software features. However, they may have limitations compared to higher-tier plans in terms of the available functionality, storage capacity, number of user seats, support options, etc.

We selected products for this article based on their average ratings between April 2022 - April 2024, which may differ from their current overall average ratings.

1. LiquidText

LiquidText combines PDF editing and note-taking. It lets you annotate PDFs using various tools such as highlighters, pens, and text boxes. You can add, delete, or rearrange pages within your PDFs. The tool helps you drag and drop documents and notes into a workspace for a centralized view. LiquidText’s gestural interface lets you write freehand directly on various elements within a PDF. For instance, you can draw a line (or link) between two points in different documents, excerpts, and notes, visually connecting related elements and illustrating their relationship. These dynamic links automatically update as connected objects are moved or rearranged.

Its base plan supports up to 1GB of project storage and ten personal devices (iPadOS, MacOS, Windows 10/11/X). Upgrading to a premium plan gives you unlimited storage, priority support, and user-controlled file encryption features.

Base plan features:*

  • Pinch search: Perform a search with your PDF documents using a pinch gesture, similar to zooming in and out on a touchscreen device. This feature helps locate specific keywords or phrases within the document.

  • Excerpting: Highlight the desired text or image in a document and extract it as an excerpt, which is saved separately from the original document. You can annotate and add additional notes and context to these excerpts.

  • OCR scan to text: Leverage optical character recognition (OCR) to scan documents and images, recognize the characters, and convert them into editable and searchable text.

Starting price: $3.99 per month

Cost to upgrade: $5.99 per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Query form and knowledge base

Who should consider LiquidText?

LiquidText can be a good option for researchers and students who work heavily with PDFs and need to analyze, synthesize, and connect information across multiple documents. Besides basic highlighting and annotating, this tool enables users to create dynamic links between various elements within PDFs, including text, images, and annotations. These links visually illustrate relationships and connections between different ideas or sections of documents, facilitating deeper understanding and analysis. Moreover, excerpting and OCR features help extract and organize key information, facilitating in-depth analysis.

LiquidText

LiquidText

4.62 out of 5 stars

177 reviews

2. iLovePDF

iLovePDF lets you merge multiple PDFs into a single file, separate specific pages from a PDF file, and compress the file size for easier document sharing. Based on your requirements, you can convert PDF files into images, Word documents, or Excel sheets, and vice versa. Add text, images, or freehand annotations to a PDF and stamp it with a custom watermark. This tool also lets you convert your PDF to PDF/A, the ISO-standardized version of PDF for long-term archiving. You can recover data from corrupt files using the repair PDF tool within the software. iLovePDF also helps you lock or unlock documents and compare two different file versions to spot changes or errors.

Its base plan supports unlimited batch processing and up to five digital signatures per month. You can upgrade to its premium plan to get a dedicated account manager, single sign-on (SSO), and a customizable volume of digital signatures per month.

Base plan features:*

  • Electronic signatures (e-sign): Sign the PDFs digitally without the need for physical signatures. You can sign the document using your computer mouse or finger (on a touchscreen device).

  • Personalized branding: Personalize your PDFs by adding branding elements, such as logos, company names, or custom headers and footers.

  • Audit trail: View a detailed record of all changes made to a PDF. This feature helps track who made the edits, what changes were made, and the timestamps for each change, ensuring version control and compliance.

Starting price: $5 per month

Cost to upgrade: Available upon request from the vendor

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Contact form and knowledge base

Who should consider iLovePDF?

Businesses operating in highly regulated sectors, such as healthcare, finance, or legal services, need to track document changes for accountability and audit purposes. iLovePDF’s audit trail feature can be of help in such cases. It offers a clear history of document edits, providing businesses with a reliable record of changes made to critical documents. This functionality is particularly beneficial for compliance audits, ensuring that documents haven't been tampered with, and helps organizations demonstrate regulatory adherence. Businesses can use the audit trail feature to identify potential security breaches, unauthorized access attempts, or data manipulation, thereby safeguarding sensitive information.

iLovePDF

iLovePDF

4.74 out of 5 stars

1428 reviews

Pro tip

Determine the non-negotiable and good-to-have features for your workflows. Prioritize the non-negotiable ones, such as text editing, merging files, rearranging pages, and adding electronic signatures. This will help you narrow your options and choose a software solution that fits your needs without overspending on unnecessary features.

3. Smallpdf

This PDF editor lets you merge, split, edit, e-sign, and password-protect PDF files. You can convert presentations, word documents, images, and Excel to PDF, and vice versa. Smallpdf allows you to request signatures electronically from up to 100 people at once. The e-sign feature complies with ISO/IEC 27001 and electronic identification, authentication, and trust services (eIDAS) standards for electronic signature, ensuring document and data protection. You can use the PDF scanner app to scan any document into a PDF file. Smallpdf also uses OCR technology to convert non-searchable PDF documents into searchable and selectable text.

The base plan supports unlimited document downloads and priority customer support. Upgrading to the premium version gives you access to advanced features, including a dedicated customer success manager and personalized onboarding program.

Base plan features:*

  • AI PDF summarizer: Condense lengthy PDF documents into shorter summaries. This feature uses artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze the content of a PDF and extract key information.

  • PDF flattening: Remove editable elements from PDF files, such as annotations, text boxes, and images, converting them into static content. This prevents unintended changes to the content and ensures that the document's layout remains consistent across different devices. 

  • PDF security: Use password protection, encryption, and digital signatures to protect your PDF files from unauthorized access or modifications. Smallpdf employs 256-bit encryption, making the PDF content unreadable without the password.

Starting price: $7 per user per month

Cost to upgrade: $9 per user per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Contact form and knowledge base

Who should consider Smallpdf?

Business professionals dealing with sensitive documents, such as contracts, financial reports, or legal agreements, can consider Smallpdf for its security features. It uses 256-bit AES encryption, the industry standard for safeguarding sensitive information. This encryption scrambles users’ document content, making it unreadable by anyone without the decryption key (password) and preventing unauthorized access. Smallpdf adds an extra layer of trust and authenticity to documents with digital signatures. These signatures allow recipients to verify the document's origin and ensure that it hasn't been altered during transit.

Smallpdf

Smallpdf

4.64 out of 5 stars

813 reviews

4. Soda PDF

Like other PDF editors featured on our list, Soda PDF lets you create PDFs from various sources, including Word documents, Excel sheets, HTML files, or directly from your mobile scanner application. Its built-in 3D page-flipping technology simulates the experience of flipping through pages in a physical book by presenting virtual pages that appear to turn and transition smoothly. You can also compress the size of any PDF file without affecting the quality. The software facilitates electronic signatures, allowing you to e-sign documents or request e-signatures from others, with real-time tracking accessible through the dashboard.

Its base plan offers access to the latest software updates. Upgrading to a premium plan provides you access to advanced features, such as annotations, commenting, e-sign, batch processing, OCR search, and priority support.

Base plan features:*

  • Create and convert: Create new PDF documents from various formats, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You can convert PDFs to other file formats, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML, and image formats (JPEG and PNG).

  • Editor: Edit PDF documents by adding, deleting, or modifying text, adjusting font styles and sizes, inserting or removing images, and annotating with comments, highlights, and other markup tools.

  • Split and merge PDF: Manipulate the structure of PDF documents by splitting them into multiple smaller files or merging multiple PDFs into a single document.

Starting price: $7 per month

Cost to upgrade: $7.25 per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Knowledge base

Who should consider Soda PDF?

Individuals creating digital publications, such as e-books, brochures, magazines, or interactive learning materials, can consider Soda PDF. It has a built-in 3D flipping tool that adds a realistic touch by simulating the experience of flipping through pages in a physical book. This feature enhances the user experience and makes digital content more immersive and intuitive.

Soda PDF

Soda PDF

3.54 out of 5 stars

220 reviews

Pro tip

Many PDF editor software providers offer free trials or demo versions of their products. Take advantage of these versions to test the software's features, user interface, and compatibility with your workflow before making a purchase decision.

5. pdfFiller

pdfFiller provides a comprehensive suite of tools for editing PDF files, allowing you to erase irrelevant or incorrect information, highlight key sections, annotate, and rewrite specific areas as needed. Additionally, you can merge, rearrange, or insert pages into your PDF documents and convert them into editable Word files for further customization. With pdfFiller, you can also draw directly on your documents, save and print them, and share them via fax.

Its base plan supports encryption and two-factor authentication (2FA) to protect your data. You get responsive customer support, with inquiries typically addressed within a day. Upgrading to a premium version gives access to advanced features, including notarization, instant chat support, legal forms library, and password-protected documents.

Base plan features:*

  • Encryption and security: Protect your documents and keep important information confidential with encryption and two-factor authentication (2FA). You can use the audit trail to view all activities in your account.

  • Fill forms: Fill out digital PDF forms directly within the platform, including tax forms, applications, and contracts. You can input your information directly onto the document using pdfFiller.

  • Fax PDFs: Transmit PDF documents securely via online fax services within the platform without needing a traditional fax machine or dedicated fax line.

Starting price: $8 per month

Cost to upgrade: $12 per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Ticket and knowledge base

Who should consider pdfFiller?

Individuals who regularly deal with digital forms could consider pdfFiller. It enables users to fill PDF forms directly within the platform, eliminating the need to print, fill by hand, and scan documents. This feature saves time and reduces errors that can occur with handwritten entries. Moreover, filled forms can be easily saved and stored electronically, eliminating the need for physical copies and simplifying document management.

pdfFiller

pdfFiller

4.57 out of 5 stars

873 reviews

6. Xodo

With Xodo, you can edit, annotate, crop, compress, OCR, and e-sign PDF files. It has a DOCX editor that works online within your web browser, so you don’t need Microsoft Word software installed to edit Word documents. Once you upload your PDF file, Xodo analyzes it to see if it meets the PDF/A technical specifications. It also details any specific issues preventing the PDF from being considered a valid PDF/A document. Xodo PDF offers a text comparison feature highlighting differences between two text documents, including Word or plain text. Similarly, its PDF compare tool serves the same purpose for PDF files, aiding in document review and revision tracking. Users can upload two versions of the same document or different documents for comparison.

Its base plan supports one user account and provides access to OCR and all the tools to view, edit, convert, merge, compress, and sign your documents. If you upgrade to its premium plan, you create multiple user accounts and access centralized billing and flexible payment options.

Base plan features:*

  • Bulk file conversion: Convert multiple PDF files simultaneously into JPG, PNG, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, DICOM, and HEIC formats. This feature saves time spent converting files one by one.

  • AskPDF AI tool: Leverage the built-in AI tool to get insights into your PDF documents. You can ask questions or seek guidance on PDF formatting, summarizing, editing, or optimization. The AI tool analyzes the content and structure of the document to offer relevant suggestions or solutions.

  • Redact PDF: Remove sensitive information from your PDFs by selecting the entire page or specific text passages. For scanned PDFs without selectable text, you can draw rectangles to cover specific regions containing sensitive information.

Starting price: $9.99 per month

Cost to upgrade: Available upon request from the vendor

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Help center

Who should consider Xodo?

Students, researchers, and business professionals dealing with a large volume of heavy PDFs can use Xodo for its AskPDF AI feature. With AI-powered assistance, users can analyze and enhance various documents, including business reports, presentations, proposals, academic papers, and research articles. This feature helps users optimize document formatting, summarize lengthy reports, or seek editing suggestions to enhance clarity and professionalism.

Xodo

Xodo

4.35 out of 5 stars

52 reviews

7. Edit-PDFs

Edit-PDFs lets you import your signature or an image and affix it anywhere on your PDF document. You can also save it for future reference. It has a drawing tool that helps you annotate and draw over your content to highlight or mark specific sections. You can convert PDF files to Word, Google Docs, Google Sheets, or Excel documents. Like other tools mentioned in this article, Edit-PDFs also lets you split and separate your PDF file into multiple files, combine multiple PDFs or specific pages into a single file, and reduce the size of your PDF without compromising on quality.

Edit-PDFs offers a single subscription plan that includes all the features on the platform. However, you can choose between two payment options: an annual plan priced at $10 per month or a monthly plan available at $39 per month.

Base plan features:*

  • Edit PDFs: Edit PDF content by adding, deleting, or modifying text, images, and other elements within the PDF file. You can adjust the document's layout, format, and appearance to suit your needs.

  • Eraser: Remove specific content from a PDF document, including text, images, annotations, or other elements. This tool provides precision control, allowing you to delete unwanted document portions while preserving the surrounding content.

  • Annotations: Annotate PDF files by adding comments, notes, or markings to provide feedback, clarification, or emphasis. Annotation tools include text boxes, highlighting, underlining, strikethrough, and drawing tools.

Starting price: $10 per month

Cost to upgrade: Offers only one pricing plan

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Email, call, and knowledge base

Who should consider Edit-PDFs?

Individuals working with highly confidential documents, such as legal contracts with sensitive information, can consider Edit-PDFs for its eraser tool. This feature helps redact specific content before sharing, ensuring complete removal of sensitive data without altering the overall document layout. Similarly, designers creating layouts or mockups in PDFs can use the eraser to remove unwanted elements or placeholder text. This allows for cleaner and more polished final versions without reworking the layout.

Edit Pdfs

Edit Pdfs

4.73 out of 5 stars

478 reviews

Pro tip

Reliable customer support is essential, especially when dealing with software-related issues or technical difficulties. Choose a PDF editor software provider that offers responsive customer support via multiple channels, such as email, live chat, or phone, to ensure timely assistance.

Top 5 PDF editor software features users rate as highly critical

All the products listed in this article include the features mentioned below. To identify these, we asked users to rate, on a scale of “low importance” to “critical,” how important different features are for PDF software. The features showcased are those that the highest percentage of reviewers rated as “highly important” or “critical” over the past two years (as of April 22, 2024).

Feature name

Criticality rating (%)

Description

Convert to PDF

87.09%

Convert various file formats (such as Word documents, images, etc.) into PDF format.

Text editing

80.64%

Edit text within a PDF document, including adding, deleting, and modifying text.

Merge/append files

78.09%

Merge multiple PDF files into a single document.

Rearrange pages

74.25%

Rearrange the order of pages within a PDF document, including moving, adding, or removing pages.

Electronic signature

72.45%

Sign PDF documents electronically, either by drawing a signature or using digital signature technology from within the software.

How much does PDF editor software cost?

PDF editor software solutions can cost as low as $3.99 per month or up to $129+ per month, depending on various factors—features, number of users, document type, business size, training availability, deployment options, integrations, and storage. Most PDF editor solutions typically include the following pricing plans:

  • Free trials: Range from seven to 30 days and give users access to either all or limited features of the software. These no-cost trial plans are ideal for PDF editor teams that wish to try out a tool before purchasing it.

  • Free versions: Offer perpetual access to limited software features. These free plans are ideal for small businesses or individuals on a budget.

  • Entry-level plans: Start at $3.99 per month and offer access to standard features. These are suitable for individuals and small businesses with basic feature requirements, such as text editing, merging files, and rearranging pages.

  • Mid-tier plans: Range from $10 to $99.95 per month and offer advanced features, such as electronic signatures, optical character recognition (OCR), form filling, and batch processing. These are suitable for businesses that have outgrown entry-level solutions but don’t require the full range of functionality offered by enterprise-level tools.

  • High-end plans: Cost more than $129 per month and offer a range of advanced features, including unlimited access to entry-level and mid-tier features, advanced security features, custom branding options, and dedicated customer support. These are suitable for large businesses with high-volume document management needs.

Hidden costs associated with PDF editor software

Besides the software license, additional costs can include:

  • Training expenses: Initial training for new users and ongoing training for updates or new features can lead to additional costs.

  • Data migration costs: Migrating data from your existing system to the new tool may require expert assistance, adding to the software implementation cost.

  • Software upgrades: Additional costs may be incurred for software upgrades to access the latest PDF editor features and security patches.

Frequently asked questions when selecting affordable PDF editor software 

Here are some questions to ask PDF software providers before making a final purchase:

  • Are there any limitations on file size or number of documents I can edit?

Some software providers impose limitations on the file size of individual documents or the total number of documents you can edit with the base plan. These limitations could impact your work efficiency, especially if you frequently handle large files or manage multiple documents simultaneously. By clarifying these restrictions upfront, you can ensure that the software aligns with your workflow requirements and doesn't hinder your productivity.

  • Can I customize the software to match my branding or workflow?

You need customization capabilities to tailor the PDF editor software to suit your specific branding guidelines and workflow processes. This may include adding your company logo, adjusting color schemes, customizing toolbar layouts, or integrating with other software tools in your tech stack. Therefore, you should inquire about the extent of customization options in the base plan and whether they meet your requirements.

  • What security measures are in place to protect my documents and data?

Inquiring about the security measures implemented by the software provider ensures that your documents and data are protected from unauthorized access, data breaches, or other security threats. You can look for features such as encryption (both in transit and at rest), access controls, user authentication, audit trails, and adherence to industry best practices for data protection. Additionally, consider whether the software offers password protection, digital signatures, or redaction tools to enhance document security and compliance with regulatory requirements.


Methodology

To be considered for this list, products had to:

  • Have at least 20 unique product reviews published on Software Advice within the past two years, with an average rating of 3.0 or higher (as of April 22, 2024). 

  • Include the core features of PDF editor software—PDF conversion, image editing, and text editing.

  • Meet our market definition for PDF editor software: “PDF editor software helps create, edit, convert, and share PDF documents. The software allows users to edit text and images within PDFs, rearrange pages, password-protect files, electronically sign forms, and more.”

  • For products that met the first three criteria, we assessed the monthly subscription price of the base plans and found the average price to be $28—we considered only products with publicly available pricing information. We then shortlisted products with a monthly base price lower than $28 for this article.

*Our research team identified these features from vendor websites (as of April 22, 2024) based on their analysis of what users find valuable in or expect from PDF editor software. This list is not exhaustive. For additional features, refer to the vendor’s website.

Editorial independence: We select and rank products based on an objective methodology developed by our research team. While some vendors may pay us when they receive web traffic or leads, this has no influence on our methodology.

Note: Products evaluated for the pricing calculation were taken from Software Advice’s PDF editor software directory. The pricing ranges exclude freemium versions of the products. The features highlighted were identified based on their relevance and the percentage of products in the Software Advice directory that offer them. Only products with publicly available pricing information, as of April 22, 2024, were considered for the pricing calculation.