Top 10 Solutions for Working with PDFs

AltoPDF team

Invalid Date / 57 min read

When it comes to choosing a relevant digital solution for your workflow, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start from.

For example, there are so many PDF services offered on the market these days, that it's almost impossible for users to make a choice without getting confused. So usually, people either end up selecting the most popular service or following the advice of their friends or colleagues without investigating all the available options carefully.

We know that puzzling out the details can get complicated, so we’ve prepared a review of PDF solutions for online use, as well as those specifically designed for either desktop and Apple users.


1 Online

1. AltoPDF

AltoPDF is a website that provides multiple solutions for working with files. Having this platform at their disposal, users can easily upload and interchange the format of their documents, make conversions from text extensions to graphics, change the size of files, manage their pages and much more. The whole spectrum of features includes the conversion of Word, PPT, JPG, and PNG format to Portable Document Format and vice versa. PDF to Excel conversion is also included. Additionally, you have the option to merge and split files, extract pages, compress files, rotate pages, and set or remove a password.

The service is free and available to anyone who has a device with an internet connection. It doesn't matter what operating system you have since all processes are carried out online. The user can repeat the manipulations and download the prepared files as many times as necessary. Afterwards, the website gives you the option to move to the PDF editor and redact, sign, or share an original file if necessary.

Although this platform appeared not that long ago, it shows sustainable growth in its number of users. In April 2018, there were about 30,000 users, but in March 2019, that number exceeded the 200,000 mark.



  • Unlimited access to all functions without the need for registration or purchasing a subscription.
  • The user-friendly interface makes the work process intuitive and super fast.
  • AltoPDF is flexible while working with different file formats, so there is never a problem with compatibility. Even if you use LibreOffice, it will easily convert it the same way as Word.
  • The website doesn’t save a user's documents, so sensitive information can't be stolen.


  • It doesn’t work without an internet connection.


2. PDF Pro

PDF Pro is a solution that allows users to edit, arrange and convert their documents online. It gives you the option to work with text in PDF, customize it, convert documents and images, lock files with a password, add watermarks, and manage PDF pages. Users can perform all actions online without registration and upload up to 3 resulted files. After that, the service requires you to purchase an annual or monthly plan.



  • Basic editing tools for PDF documents as well as a watermark feature.
  • The ability to merge and split PDFs.
  • PDF Pro carries out conversions between the most popular file extensions.


  • A user can download only 3 files per months for free. If you want to use the solution more, you have to pay.
  • The interface isn't as user-friendly when compared to other options on the market.


3. Smallpdf

Another service similar to the previous two is Smallpdf. This platform provides tools to convert, edit and manage documents online. It can perform conversions to PDF from several file extensions and vice versa. Users can also protect and unlock files, merge and split documents, as well as rotate and delete pages. There is also a feature that allows you to edit PDFs and add your electronic signature.



  • Provides a full set of features to manage PDF documents and convert them into different formats.
  • Has an intuitive and colorful user interface.


  • Users can only process a limited number of files. To get unlimited access, you have to register and purchase a plan.



SODA PDF editor is an advanced tool for processing PDF documents alike to many of its competitors. It's set of features includes editing PDFs, adding an electronic signature, converting different extensions, arranging documents and their pages, and optical character recognition technology. It offers several versions for both home and business use, as well as a free trial. The more advanced the version is, the more features users have access to.



  • A wide range of file extensions to work with.
  • OCR technology that allows the recognition of uneditable text.
  • The ability to sign documents electronically.


  • You can’t download the processed document directly from the website when using the free version.
  • When you enter the text in the editor, the changes spoil the formatting.
  • You have to purchase a plan to get full access to the features.
  • It's a rather confusing user interface.


5. iLovePDF

Another example of a platform for PDF file management is iLovePDF. Here, users have the ability to perform various actions with their PDF documents such as converting them into different formats, reducing the size, protecting sensitive information with a password, rearranging pages and much more. The tool works online from either a PC or mobile device, and the user can save the resulted file on their device or cloud storage.



  • A wide range of formats for conversions.
  • Many useful functions for operating PDFs such as the ability to protect and repair the document.
  • A straightforward user interface.


  • To get more features and abilities, the user has to register and purchase the plan.
  • The user cannot edit PDFs.


  AltoPDF PDF Pro Smallpdf SODA iLovePDF
Who uses this solution? This platform is used by people from various industries, for both personal and professional needs. Every month, more and more users are taking advantage of this solution. It is designed for both personal and corporate needs. For example, officers, lawyers and real estate agents use it to edit their PDF documents. Customers of Smallpdf amount to more than 15 million from all over the world. Among which, are 100,000 businesses that employ 17 online and offline services. Soda is used by various types of businesses: small, medium and large enterprises. This service helps them successfully manage their workflow and remarkably boosts their productivity. Users from every corner of the world take advantage of this solution to work on their PDFs.
Operating formats Word, Excel, PowerPoint, JPG, PNG, PDF Word, Excel, PowerPoint, JPG, PNG, PDF Word, Excel, PowerPoint, JPG, PDF Word, Excel, PowerPoint, JPG, PNG, HTML, TXT, GIF, PDF Word, Excel, PowerPoint, JPG, PNG, PDF
User-friendly interface Yes No Yes No Yes
Full set of features for free Yes No No No No
Document and pages arrangement Split, merge, compress documents; rotate and extract pages Merge, resize, documents; remove, rotate, and reorder pages; add watermark Compress, merge, split documents; delete, and rotate pages Merge, split, compress, resize documents; rotate and delete pages; page numbering; add watermark, OCR Merge, split, compress, repair documents; rotate and organize pages; page numbering; add watermark
Set and remove a password Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Edit PDF Edit text, make annotations, add objects and media, e-sign Edit text, add objects and media, e-sign Edit text, make annotations, add objects and media, e-sign Edit text, make annotations, add objects and media, e-sign No
Save the result to the cloud Yes No Yes No Yes


2 Desktop

6. Nitro Pro

Nitro Pro is software that's designed to open, view and create portable document format files. With the help of this solution, users can edit their documents by applying a set of tools for text processing and add other objects. There is also an electronic signature service for approving the generated documents. The software provides three plans: Individual, Business and Enterprise. The desktop program is available only for Windows.



  • Easy document management due to integrated cloud storage.
  • Improved OCR capability.
  • Ability to quickly operate and share files.


  • Users get limited features while using the trial version.
  • The desktop version is incompatible with Mac.


7. PDFelement

PDFelement solution is software for creating and editing PDF documents in with either a Mac or Windows operating system. It allows you to draw up your own contracts and work on them by adding fillable fields, adjusting text and other graphical parts, adding an electronic signature and saving it. Additionally, there are options for converting the contract to a different format, protecting it with a password, exporting fields from one document to another, as well as combining several files together. The full set of features is provided when purchasing a subscription.



  • There is a free trial available before purchasing any plan.
  • A qualitative ORC function for recognizing scanned files.
  • A convenient and user-friendly interface.


  • It may not recognize special characters during conversion.
  • Not all features are available while using the free trial.


8. PDFescape

PDFescape is a PDF editor designed for the desktop. This software provides editing tools such as adding and removing text, inserting links and drawing arrows, lines, circles and checkmarks. As a form filler, it has several types of fillable fields to add and the ability to upload a scanned signature for approving the document.



  • It has a straightforward interface which makes easy to use.
  • There is a password protection feature.
  • The user can easily manage the created document by rearranging pages and combining documents.


  • The OCR feature is unavailable.
  • The user interface looks old-fashioned.
  • You can sign a PDF only with a scanned signature.


  Nitro Pro PDFelement PDFescape
Who uses this software? Nitro Pro serves to organize document management for individuals and different kinds of businesses. However, the most sophisticated tools for boosting productivity are provided for enterprises. This software is suitable for professionals working in various fields: finance, construction, education, IT, governmental authorities, HR, real estate and many more. The program is used for editing and managing PDF files by individuals and corporate workers from different industries.
OS (desktop version) Windows Windows, Mac Windows
Intuitive interface Yes Yes Yes
OCR Yes Yes No
Fillable fields No Yes Yes
Editing features Edit text, highlight, erase Edit text, add images, add links Edit text, highlight, add images, add links, draw, add lines, arrows and checkmarks
Page management Delete, rotate pages; merge, convert files; page numbering Rotate, delete, insert, replace, extract, split pages; convert files; add watermark Rotate, delete, move, crop, append pages



9. Preview

Preview is a default program to open and view PDFs, images and other types of files on devices based on the macOS operating system. It provides features that allow editing of the uploaded document by adding text and objects. You may also add a signature captured with a camera. Additionally, it also includes a basic set of features for working on pictures and editing photos.



  • Ensures flexible use due to its versatility.
  • Allows you to edit and sign documents.
  • Provides the option to add and delete pages from the file.


  • Limited features for PDF editing.


10. Readdle PDF Expert

Readdle PDF Expert is a portable document format editor for Mac. Its functionality is designed to edit text, make annotations, complete forms and add digital signatures. This helps you to manage contracts faster and properly organize your workflow. It also provides document templates so that the user doesn’t have to constantly create them from scratch.



  • Easy to fill out forms and sign.
  • Works quickly with large files.
  • Available on both your computer or mobile device.


  • Doesn’t provide OCR technology.


  Preview Readdle PDF Expert
Who uses this software? Preview is a suitable program for individuals and may be used by small businesses. It works well for anyone who has to deal with images and photos. The features of this software are applicable for both personal and corporate use when operating Apple devices.
Price Default software Provides paid subscriptions
PDF editing Add text and format it, highlight text, add shapes Add text, highlight text, draw, erase, draw shapes, add notes, stamps, redact text
Page management Merge files, delete, rearrange pages; convert the document to a JPG image Merge, append files, convert to PDF
Fillable fields Textboxes Textboxes
E-signature Yes Yes


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