8 Best Free PDF Editors

Use these free PDF editors and online tools to make changes to your PDF files

It's not easy to find a truly free PDF editor that lets you not only edit and add text but also change images, add your own graphics, sign your name, fill out forms, etc. Below, however, is a list of exactly what you're looking for.

Some of these are online PDF editors that work right in your web browser, so all you have to do is upload your PDF file to the website, make the changes you want, and then save it back to your computer. That's ​the quick way—but do bear in mind that, typically, an online editor isn't as fully featured as its desktop counterpart, plus the file is exposed to the internet (which might be of concern if it contains sensitive content).

Because not all of these free PDF editors support the same features, and some are restricted in what you can do, remember that you can process the same PDF in more than one tool. For example, use one to edit the PDF text (if that's supported), and then put the same PDF through a different editor to do something supported in that program (for example, to edit a form, update an image, or remove a page).

If you don't need to change the contents of the PDF but instead just need to change it to another file format (such as .docx for Microsoft Word or .epub for an eBook), see our list of free document converters for help. On the other hand, if you have a file you created yourself that you want to save as a PDF file, learn How to Print to PDF.

Microsoft Word: A Top Choice

If you already own Microsoft Word 2019, 2016, or 2013, then skip all the suggested programs below: you have a great PDF editor at your disposal right now. Just open the PDF as you would any Word document, give the program a few minutes to convert the PDF, and then edit away. This also works in Google Docs.

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Sejda PDF Editor

Sejda online PDF editor
What We Like
  • Lets you load the file from other websites

  • Supports adding hyperlinks

  • Includes a signature tool

  • Lets you insert blank pages into the PDF

  • Can remove pages from the PDF

  • Supports whiting out parts of the page

  • Can insert images and shapes

What We Don't Like
  • Can be used on only three PDFs every hour

  • Limited to docs with fewer than 200 pages

  • Doesn't edit files larger than 50 MB

Sejda PDF Editor is one of the very few PDF editors that actually lets you edit pre-existing text in the PDF without adding a watermark. Most editors only let you edit the text you add yourself, or they support text editing but then throw watermarks all over the place.

Plus, this tool can run entirely in your web browser, so it's easy to get going without having to download any programs. You can get the desktop version if you'd rather use it that way.

There are some differences between the online and desktop versions that you should know about. For example, the desktop edition supports more font types and doesn't let you add PDFs by URL or from online storage services as the online editor does (which supports Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive).

Another neat feature is the web integration tool that lets PDF publishers provide a link for their users that they can simply click to automatically open the file in this online PDF editor.

All uploaded files are automatically deleted from Sejda after two hours.

This online PDF editor works no matter which operating system you use. Sejda PDF Desktop runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux.

You can use both the online and desktop versions to convert a PDF to a Word doc or a Word doc to PDF.

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What We Like
  • Can edit PDF text

  • Supports manipulating graphics

  • Includes lots of image-editing tools

What We Don't Like
  • The number of graphics-editing tools can be overwhelming

Inkscape is an extremely popular free image viewer and editor, but it also includes PDF editing functions that most dedicated PDF editors support only in their paid editions.

Inkscape is a very capable image editing program. If you're not already familiar with programs like GIMP, Adobe Photoshop, and other image editors, however, it's probably a bit advanced for you.

In the context of PDF editing, though, you should consider Inkscape only if you want to delete or edit the images or text in the PDF. We suggest you use a different tool in this list to edit PDF forms or add shapes and then plug that PDF into Inkscape if you need to actually edit the preexisting text.

You can install Inkscape on Windows, macOS, and Linux.

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PDFescape Online PDF Editor

PDFescape online PDF editor
What We Like
  • Works online through your web browser

  • Includes lots of tools

  • Lets you add your own text and images

  • Can delete and add PDF pages

What We Don't Like
  • Can't edit existing text

  • Limits the PDF size and page length

PDFescape has quite a lot of features. It's free as long as the PDF doesn't exceed 100 pages or 10 MB.

You can't truly change text or edit images using this editor, but you can add your own text, images, links, form fields, etc. 

The text tool is very customizable so that you can pick your own size, font type, color, alignment, and apply effects such as bolding, underlining, and italics.

You also can draw on the PDF, add sticky notes, strikethrough text, put white space over anything you want to disappear, and insert lines, checkmarks, arrows, ovals, circles, rectangles, and comments.

PDFescape lets you delete individual pages from the PDF, rotate pages, crop out parts of a page, reorganize the order of the pages, and add more pages from other PDFs.

You can upload your own PDF file, paste the URL to an online PDF, and make your own PDF from scratch. 

When finished editing, you can download the PDF to your computer without ever having to make a user account. You need one only if you want to save your progress online without downloading the PDF.

The online version of PDFescape works in all operating systems. There's also an offline PDF editor called PDFescape Desktop, but it isn't free and runs on Windows 10, 8, and 7.

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PDF-XChange Editor

PDF-XChange Editor
What We Like
  • Uses OCR to identify the text in the PDF

  • Can import a variety of shapes and images

  • Supports adding QR codes to the PDF

  • Offers a portable version

What We Don't Like
  • Many features require a license

  • Works with Windows only

PDF-XChange Editor offers some great tools, but not all of them are free to use. If you use a non-free feature, the PDF will save with a watermark on every page.

If you stick to just the free features, however, you can still do some editing to the file and save it back to your computer.

You can load PDFs from your computer, a URL, SharePoint, Google Drive, and Dropbox. You can save the edited PDF back to your computer or to any of those cloud storage services.

The PDF-XChange Editor program has lots of features, so it might seem overwhelming at first. All the options and tools are simple to understand, however, and they're categorized into their own sections for easier management.

One nice feature is the ability to highlight all the form fields so that you can easily spot where you need to fill in. This is really helpful if you're editing a PDF with lots of forms, such as an application.

Many of the features are free (like editing the text), but some are not. If you use a feature that's not covered by the free version (you're told which features are not free when you use them), the saved PDF file will have a watermark attached to the corner of every page.

Windows 11, 10, 8, and 7 users can install PDF-XChange Editor. You can download it in portable mode to use on a flash drive or as a regular installer.

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Smallpdf Online PDF Editor

Smallpdf online PDF editor
What We Like
  • Is completely free

  • Lets you add more text to the PDF

  • Can put white space over areas you want to erase

  • Supports importing shapes

  • Can load and save PDFs from various sources

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't let you edit existing text

  • Limited to two PDF edits per day

One of the quickest ways to add images, text, shapes, or your signature to a PDF is with Smallpdf.

This website allows you to upload a PDF, make changes to it, and then save it back to your computer all without needing to make a user account or pay for any anti-watermarking features.

You can open files from your computer or your Dropbox or Google Drive account.

Importing shapes is possible if you want a rectangle, square, circle, arrow, or line. You can change the object's main color and line color, as well as the thickness of its edge.

Text size can be small, regular, medium, large, or extra large, but you can't change the font type, just the color.

When finished editing the PDF, you can decide where you want it saved; to your device or your Dropbox account. You can also generate a share link that anyone can use to download the PDF. Something else you can do is run the document through Smallpdf's PDF splitter tool if you want to extract the pages.

If you edit two PDFs within one day, you'll have to wait until the next day to keep using the site, or upgrade/pay.

This site works with all operating systems that support a modern web browser.

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LibreOffice Draw

LibreOffice Draw free PDF editor
What We Like
  • Edits any text on the page

  • Doesn't leave a watermark

  • Lots of other editing features.

What We Don't Like
  • Must download the whole suite of programs just to use the PDF editor

LibreOffice Draw is LibreOffice's flowchart and diagram program, but it also lets you open and edit PDFs. Use the File > Open menu to select the PDF you want to edit, and then zoom up to the text to select and change whatever you want.

One of the neat things about editing PDFs with LibreOffice Draw is that the program is made for creating and manipulating objects, so you can just as easily edit non-text things, too, like images, headings, colors, etc.

When you're ready to save, don't use the typical save option; go instead to File > Export As to find the PDF option.

LibreOffice runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

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PDF BOB online editor
What We Like
  • Super easy to use.

  • No user account required.

  • Supports multiple conversion methods.

  • Use it in several languages.

  • Zero ads and saves without a watermark.

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't edit existing text.

  • Few font options.

  • Only one upload source (your computer).

PDF BOB is a free online PDF editor that requires no user account. Just upload your PDF, make the changes you need to, and then export it to PDF again to finish up.

There are several tools here to edit your PDF, like a text tool that lets you select a custom color and font type, an image picker, a colored pencil/marker, and a few shape tools.

You can also use PDF BOB to delete pages from the PDF and add new ones to it. When you save to a PDF file, there's even a password option to secure the document.

When you're done editing the PDF, you can export to the PDF format or, if you log in, JPG and PNG. Files can be saved back to your computer or imported directly into Google Drive or Dropbox.

Although PDF BOB doesn't let you edit the text in the PDF, you can convert it to one of the Word formats to do so in a word processor.

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Wondershare PDFelement
What We Like
  • Lets you edit the PDF's text directly

  • Supports adding images, links, and custom watermarks

  • The background of the PDF pages can be edited

  • Headers and footers can be included in the PDF

  • Supports combining several PDFs into one

  • PDF pages can be cropped

  • Can insert, extract, delete, and rotate PDF pages

  • Editing embedded forms is easy

  • Can password-protect the PDF

What We Don't Like
  • Free version places a watermark on the PDF

  • Requires large OCR feature download

  • Must log in to save the document

PDFelement, just as the name sounds, is free but with a major limitation: It places a watermark on every page of the PDF. That being said, the watermark is behind everything, so you can still see the content, and it's important to realize that it supports some truly great PDF editing features.

This program would be a truly free PDF editor if it weren't for the fact that the free edition will not save without first putting a watermark on every single page of the PDF.

Depending on what you'll use the PDF for, however, the features it supports might be enough for you to consider living with the watermarks.

When you're done editing, you can save back to PDF or any of the several other supported formats, including Word and other MS Office formats. To export or save, you have to have a Wondershare account.

Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS are supported.

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