IT Management

Top 6 Free PDF Software

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PDF software helps edit, electronically sign, and share PDF documents.

If you’re a freelancer working with remote clients or an HR manager onboarding new hires, you must be working with PDF documents day in and day out. Getting contracts electronically signed by clients or sending onboarding documents to new hires must be part of your daily workflow, and PDF software only makes your job easier.

PDF software tools have come a long way from being just a means to exchange documents. These tools now let you add links, images, audios, and videos to your documents as well as offer options to auto-fill and e-sign them.

If you’re just beginning to use PDF software or looking to buy one within budget, why not start with a free tool first? With a free tool, you can assess software usability before deciding whether to buy a paid version.

To help you pick the right software, we’ve compiled a list of the six best free PDF software solutions (listed alphabetically) based on user ratings and reviews. (Read how we selected these products.)

See the full list of the best PDF software in Capterra’s software directory.
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Top 6 free PDF software
1

DocHub: Integrates with Gmail, Google Drive, and Dropbox

DocHub is a PDF editor that lets you edit PDF files and forms and sign them electronically. Its lossless editing feature automatically saves the PDF file you’re working on at regular intervals so you don’t lose any changes or edits.

You can add text, images, and check marks, among other shapes, to your PDFs and redact confidential data before sharing the files. You can also reorder, rotate, or delete pages from a PDF file or merge multiple PDFs using a drag-and-drop option.

DocHub integrates with Gmail, Google Drive, and Dropbox. It lets you import files directly from these apps, edit them, export them back to the apps, and share them with your contacts. It also offers storage encryption to protect the files from unauthorized access.

DocHub’s support options include online requests, support articles, a knowledge base, and email support. It has a mobile app for Android and iOS devices.

*Analysis accurate as of February 2022
best functionality
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Key Features:

  • Annotations
  • Collaboration tools
  • Convert to PDF
  • Digital signature
  • Encryption
  • Forms management
Trial/Free Version:
Free Trial
Free Version
Cost to upgrade:

$6.99 per user per month (billed monthly)

Device Compatibility:

Screenshot:

<p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Form filling in </span></i><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/209856/DocHub/"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">DocHub</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (</span></i><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/209856/DocHub/"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Source</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">)</span></i></p>
2

iLovePDF: Combats file theft with two-hour archive clearing

ILovePDF is a PDF document management system that lets you merge, split, and compress PDF documents and add watermarks to them.

It also functions as a PDF converter, allowing you to convert Word, PPT, Excel, and HTML files into the PDF format, and vice versa. You can integrate iLovePDF with Google Drive or Dropbox to import files. Once your work is complete, you can export the files back to your Google Drive or Dropbox account.

The tool’s two-hour archive clearing feature helps combat data thefts by deleting documents from the archive at every two-hour interval. This ensures unauthorized users cannot access your data. However, you’ll have to download your edited files within the two-hour timeframe, or you’ll lose your work.

ILovePDF’s support options include user guides, FAQs, and inquiries via an online form. It has a mobile app for Android and iOS devices.

*Analysis accurate as of February 2022
most affordable
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Key Features:

  • Convert to PDF
  • Document generation
  • Encryption
  • File conversion
  • File recovery
  • Offline access
Trial/Free Version:
Free Trial
Free Version
Cost to upgrade:

$7 per user per month (billed monthly)

Device Compatibility:

Screenshot:

<p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Desktop tools in </span></i><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/173963/iLovePDF/"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">iLovePDF</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (</span></i><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/173963/iLovePDF/"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Source</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">)</span></i></p>
3

Jotform: Integrates with online payment gateways

Jotform is an online form builder that helps convert PDF forms into HTML web forms that are easier to fill for users. You can record all kinds of data, including audio, location, barcodes, and signatures, in the forms. You can also track responses by opting for instant push notifications for each received response.

The software offers a range of templates for PDF forms, cards, tables, and documents that can be customized per your branding requirements. It lets you create contracts, invoices, registration forms, inspection reports, and more.

Jotform allows you to sell products, collect donations, and set up recurring payments by creating payment forms. You can integrate the software with payment gateways, including Square and PayPal, to receive online payments.

Jotform’s support options include a question and answer forum, user guides, FAQs, and inquiries via an online form. It has a mobile app for Android and iOS devices.

*Analysis accurate as of February 2022
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Key Features:

  • Collaboration tools
  • Customizable templates
  • Smart PDF form
  • PDF editor
  • Mobile forms
  • Online payments
Trial/Free Version:
Free Trial
Free Version
Cost to upgrade:

$29 per user per month (billed monthly)

Device Compatibility:

Screenshot:

<p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Form templates in </span></i><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/237904/Jotform/"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jotform</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (</span></i><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/237904/Jotform/"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Source</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">)</span></i></p>
4

Lumin PDF: Offers easy-to-use annotation tools

Lumin PDF is a PDF solution that lets you view, edit, and share PDF files. It also lets you annotate PDF documents by adding text and drawing lines or shapes.

The tool’s real-time sync feature allows all collaborators to view the changes made to a file in real time, and its auto-save feature ensures all edits or changes are automatically saved as you type or draw. The tool makes collaboration easier by letting your teammates chat directly on the document in real time.

With Lumin, you can allow your clients or stakeholders to sign PDF documents electronically. You can also integrate the software with Google Drive and Dropbox to export documents for editing.

Lumin’s support options include online chat, an online user guide, an online user community, a help center, and inquiries via an online form. It has a mobile app for Android and iOS devices.

*Analysis accurate as of February 2022
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Key Features:

  • Real-time sync
  • Annotation tools
  • Auto saving
  • Collaborating
  • Cross platform
  • E-signature
Trial/Free Version:
Free Trial
Free Version
Cost to upgrade:

$10 per user per month (billed monthly)

Device Compatibility:

Screenshot:

<p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Add comments in </span></i><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/214552/Lumin-PDF/"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Lumin PDF</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (</span></i><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/214552/Lumin-PDF/"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Source</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">)</span></i></p>
5

PlatoForms: Retains the original design of PDF files

PlatoForms is an online PDF tool that lets you convert PDF forms into web forms that customers can easily fill via their browsers. You can embed the web forms on your website for everyone to access or share the form link with select users.

The software converts PDF files into editable PDF forms. These forms, unlike the web forms, retain the original PDF design and format so you don’t lose your branding.

With PlatoForms, you can send pre-filled forms and invitations to your customers for a faster form-filling experience. You can conceal fields to hide sensitive information and enable the read-only mode on certain sections to keep entered data unchanged.

PlatoForms’ support options include online chat, video tutorials, FAQs, and inquiries via an online contact form. It is a web-based tool that is also compatible with mobile devices.

*Analysis accurate as of February 2022
View Profile

Key Features:

  • Collaboration tools
  • Convert to PDF
  • Digital signature
  • Encryption
  • PDF reader
Trial/Free Version:
Free Trial
Free Version
Cost to upgrade:

$12 per user per month (billed monthly)

Device Compatibility:

Screenshot:

<p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">PDF to fillable forms in </span></i><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/228860/PlatoForms/"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">PlatoForms</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (</span></i><a href="https://www.platoforms.com/convert-pdf-to-fillable-webforms-online/" ref="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Source</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">)</span></i></p>
6

Smallpdf: Provides PDF password and encryption

Smallpdf is an online PDF editor that lets you convert files of different formats such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PPT into the PDF format, and vice versa. It also lets you compress the size of files.

The software allows you to add text, images, and freehand annotations to the PDF documents you create. You can also highlight parts of the text. In addition, you can fill out forms online, e-sign them, or request e-signatures from other concerned individuals.

The tool’s split and merge feature lets you split one PDF document into multiple documents or merge multiple documents into one document. You can also remove and add passwords, encryptions, and access permissions to the PDF files.

Smallpdf’s support options include FAQs and inquiries via an online form. It has a mobile app for Android and iOS devices.

*Analysis accurate as of February 2022
View Profile

Key Features:

  • Annotations
  • Collaboration tools
  • Convert to PDF
  • Digital signature
  • Encryption
  • Optical character recognition
Trial/Free Version:
Free Trial
Free Version
Cost to upgrade:

$12 per user per month (billed monthly)

Device Compatibility:

Screenshot:

<p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Dashboard in </span></i><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/172606/Smallpdf/"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Smallpdf</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (</span></i><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/172606/Smallpdf/"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Source</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">)</span></i></p>

How to choose the right free PDF software

Choosing the best free PDF editor software can be tricky when you don’t know what to look for. Keep these points in mind while evaluating software options:

  • Check the user interface. Your shortlisted PDF editor should be intuitive and easy to use even for beginners. It should have a simple interface that is easy to understand and makes tasks easier. Before finalizing any product, assess its user interface and ensure tutorials and training support are available for new users.
  • Look for drafting and editing options. If you need PDF software for more than just viewing documents, then evaluate the editing capabilities of available tools. Not all PDF editing solutions may provide all the features you need. First, make a list of what you need, and then search for a PDF tool that fulfills those needs.
  • Opt for scan and optical character recognition (OCR). Scanning and OCR functionality convert scanned documents into editable PDF files. Selecting a PDF tool that offers scan and OCR features will help your business go paperless.

Common questions to ask while selecting free PDF software

Choosing a free PDF editor isn’t easy, but asking the right questions can help. Here are some key questions to ask software vendors before finalizing your decision:

What type of support services do you offer?

There will come a point when you’ll need technical assistance. The software may not work as it is supposed to or there may be bugs that you cannot fix yourself. Therefore, ask vendors about the type of support services available. Understand the whole process of reaching out to support staff and the timeline of getting an issue resolved.

What security features does your software have?

If your PDFs often contain confidential information, you cannot overlook the security aspect. You will need password protection, encryption, and the ability to change or completely revoke user access permissions. Ask your shortlisted vendors if these security options are available in their free PDF reader software.

Is your software scalable?

As your team grows, the users of PDF software will increase along with the documents being edited through the software. An ideal solution should fulfill this growth. Therefore, ask the vendor whether their free PDF reader software can be scaled up without compromising efficiency.

How did we choose these products? We didn’t—you did

To find your ideal software match, you need information you can trust—so you can save time, stay on budget, and focus more energy on growing your business. It’s why we vet and verify all our user reviews and recommend only the tools endorsed by people such as you.

In other words, our product recommendations are never bought or sold, or based on the opinion of a single individual—they’re chosen by your peers, reflecting the views and experiences of our independent base of software reviewers.


At Capterra, we objectively select and rank products based on a methodology developed by our research team. Some vendors pay us when they receive web traffic, but this has no influence on our methodology.

To be considered for this list, products had to:

  1. Have at least 20 unique product reviews published on Capterra within the past two years, with an average rating of 3.0 or higher (as of Feb. 18, 2022). We selected the six products with the highest ratings to feature in this article.
  2. Offer a free, stand-alone version of the software (not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time).
  3. Meet our PDF software market definition: “PDF software enables viewing, creating, merging, and manipulating files in PDF format. PDF software is related to Document Management software and Productivity software.”

“Best functionality” tool is identified based on the highest user ratings for functionality that a vendor received based on publicly available reviews (as of Feb. 18, 2022).

“Most affordable” tool is identified based on the lowest pricing a vendor offered on their website in terms of cost to upgrade (as of Feb. 18, 2022).

Disclaimer: We conducted this analysis based on reviews and ratings data as of Feb. 18, 2022. In order to present the most up-to-date information, the product cards show real-time ratings. Please note that this means the ratings value in the product card may not reflect the ratings value at the time of analysis.

Product research for this article was conducted by Himanshi Arora.


Looking for IT Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best IT Management software solutions.
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About the Author

Preksha Buttan

Preksha Buttan

Preksha Buttan is a Writer at Capterra. She provides expert insights and helps small businesses identify the right software for their needs by analyzing user reviews for the highest rated products in relevant software categories. She has previously written and published content for the medical and automotive industries. Her interest lies in marketing and branding. When she’s not working, she can be found watching a thriller.

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