The most common name that springs to mind when it comes to editing a PDF is Adobe Acrobat. Every software product, however, has its pros and cons. For example, Adobe Acrobat has been praised for its robust features and document management capabilities. At the same time, it is criticized due to high membership costs and clumsy navigation. Therefore, apart from Adobe Acrobat, this post lists the best free PDF editors in the market to allow for easier PDF editing.

Many software producers have developed and released Adobe alternatives so users can effortlessly access the editing features while enjoying a much more reasonable price. We've compiled a list of 5 free and easy-to-use PDF editors for 2022. Check out how to edit a PDF file without Adobe

SwifDoo PDF (Windows)

Foxit PDF (Windows and Mac)

Wondershare PDFelement (Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android)

Soda PDF (Windows)

iLovePDF (Online, Windows)

SwifDoo PDF

SwifDoo PDF is a lightweight and useful PDF editor alternative to Adobe. This free PDF editing program stands out from the crowd thanks to its 11 MB file size and powerful features, which have earned it millions of users worldwide in just four years.

SwifDoo PDF editor features a more user-friendly interface, so users can quickly locate what they need. When it comes to changing the text in a PDF document, this free PDF editor makes the procedure as simple as it is in Adobe:

Step 1: Download SwifDoo PDF and install it on your computer;

Step 2: Launch the software and upload the PDF by clicking Open;

Step 3: When the PDF file is loaded, click Edit to start modifying the current document, with the help of useful features provided by the SwifDoo PDF editor.  


SwifDoo PDF allows you to edit text, add images and links, remove the content by a whiteout, and crop pages in the “Edit” tab. If you need to revise the content, you need to hit the “Edit” button to change the font, and color, and edit the page sizes in PDF documents without Adobe Acrobat. For scanned copies/documents, OCR is definitely a must-need feature to make a PDF editable, which is accessible in SwifDoo PDF.

                                                                            Free Download

SwifDoo PDF is a PDF editor that only has functions in the "Edit" sector that are more relevant to editing. The 11 MB file size and rapid response will come in handy when you have the need for PDF editing. Furthermore, if you're still unsure whether this new PDF editor for Windows is right for you, a 30-day free trial will suffice to see if it fits all of your PDF editing demands. To summarize, if you're looking for a way to edit a PDF without using Adobe Acrobat, SwifDoo PDF is well worth your time.

Foxit PDF

Foxit PDF is not a new name to the document management industry. This brand enjoys a good reputation in this field. In comparison to Adobe Acrobat, the Foxit PDF editor achieves a superior mix of features, usability, and cost. Without further description, let’s see how to edit a PDF with Foxit PDF:

Step 1: Download Foxit PDF Editor. Since Foxit has a different version for the PDF editor, please check for details and make comparisons before payment. (The picture below is from Foxit PDF Editor Pro 11);

Step 2: Open the program, and upload the PDF document to the panel by hitting Open File; If your PDF is in PDF/A which is created for archival and cannot be edited, Foxit will open a window to notify you if you need to modify the current file. Otherwise, this file is displayed in read-only mode (non-editable);

Step 3: Click the Edit tab and then select Edit Text to start making changes to the current file.

You are allowed to change the text, style, size, color, and alignment by clicking the status bar hidden on the right side of the screen. Additionally, this PDF editor can also create a numbered or bulleted list if needed.

As the following screenshot shows, Foxit’s navigation bar accommodates many more features, such as “Edit Object”, “Search & Replace”, “Image Annotation”, and “Audio & Video”. But if you are required to edit an e-signature within a PDF, click “Fill & Sign” in the “Protect” tab.

"Search & Replace" is another pleasant surprise from Foxit. You can now easily repair typos and replace them using Foxit, which is convenient and time-saving for users.


Foxit's user interface is admittedly complex, and some users may find it bewildering. It seems like Foxit has considered this issue and prepared video tutorials on the software interface. In summary, this is a comprehensive PDF editor to edit PDF documents without Adobe, especially suitable for active and regular PDF users who have various demands for a PDF editor.


Wondershare PDFelement

Wondershare PDFelement is a powerful, yet easy-to-use PDF editor where you can edit, organize, manage and secure your PDF documents. This is a platform that has introduced some beneficial features and toolsets when it comes to editing a PDF file without Adobe.

With PDFelement, users have complete control over PDF files and can change fonts and styles while maintaining the layout of the document. Let’s explore how to edit a PDF with PDFelement:

Step 1: Download Wondershare PDFelement on the official website and install it on your computer;

Step 2: Launch the program and click Open files to start editing;

Step 3: In the Edit tab, you are allowed to add text, image, link, watermark, header & footer, and Bates number. If you’d like to change the background color, just hit the Background to add or edit the background color.

If you need to modify the properties of the newly added text, just right-click on the mouse and select “Properties” to change the font style, size, color, and alignment.


Soda PDF

Among the PDF editors listed, Soda PDF is the only completely functioning PDF solution that is available as a desktop and web-based application. Users have the freedom to access features on any device with a web browser, including desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

It comes equipped with innovative features specifically designed to increase productivity, including PDF conversion, editing, reviewing and security tools, a reputable e-signature solution, Bates’ numbering, cloud integration, and much more. Here’s the guide to editing a PDF file with Soda PDF:

Step 1: Enter Soda PDF’s website on the search bar, and click Start Free Trial; when the download page shows up, Soda PDF will be downloaded automatically. If not, restart the download process by hitting Click here;

Step 2: Launch the Soda PDF Installer. When finished, users will be asked to create a new PDF or open an existing document to start work;

Step 3: Upload your PDF file by clicking Open PDF. Next, choose the Edit tab to freely make any changes to the current file. In the editing tool, you can change the font style, size, color, and alignment. What’s more, you are allowed to insert images, links, and page marks into the current document.


As a qualified PDF editor, Soda PDF’s spell check (similar to MS Word) is incredibly useful. It helps you locate annoying typos which require further checks.

If you need to itemize the selected paragraph, you can choose “More Adjustments” to add a bullet list or numbered list to the selected paragraph if applicable.  


Not long ago, iLovePDF was only an online PDF program, but iLovePDF has now released its desktop version to reach a wider audience. However, editing features are still unavailable in its desktop version. If you're looking for a free way to edit PDFs online, the online PDF editor is highly recommended. The steps for modifying a PDF are listed below:

Step 1: Navigate to the official website and select Edit PDF;

Step 2: Upload a PDF from local folders, Google Drive, or Dropbox;

Step 3: When your PDF document is successfully added to this platform, you can start editing by clicking on the navigation bar. iLovePDF enables users to add text, images, shapes, and draw on the current file;

Step 4: When adding text, you can change the font, font size, alignment, and opacity. The background color of the text box can be altered based on your preference.

In some cases when you need to make a lot of changes to a PDF file, the scattered newly added text box can be annoying. You can click on the “New Text X” box to locate each item on the right side of the window. The whole editing processing can be done online and requires no download or registration.


Note: As to the file security, iLovePDF promises to employ HTTPS/SSL and end-to-end encryption for enhanced security. Users can meanwhile edit an e-signature or set passwords to better protect information. What’s more important, files uploaded to this platform will be automatically removed or deleted from its server within 2 hours. These additional steps will make it a reliable online PDF platform. 


The PDF editors described above are solid alternatives to Adobe Acrobat, and most of them provide a free trial period of one week or more, allowing you to test them out before committing to a full membership. If your job involves the frequent demand of editing PDFs, it is strongly suggested to invest in a professional PDF editor to improve productivity and better manage digital documents.

Common FAQ about 5 Alternatives to Editing a PDF without Adobe Acrobat

Q:Are there any free PDF editors?

Yes, there are many free PDF editors in the industry, and most PDF tools have seven-day free trials for registered users.

For non-registered users, service providers will limit the usage or access of all features, such as twice a day or five tasks a day. For registered users, they can access all features within the free trial. Once the free trial expires, users need to pay a subscription fee.

Q:Does Adobe provide a free PDF editing service?

Adobe does provide a free online service to enable creating and converting PDFs, editing the text, making comments, and compressing PDF sizes.  Users can access Adobe's service online. However, Adobe’s online service is limited and cannot cover all your needs.  



Roche has been an active PDF user for 6 years and tried different types of professional PDF tools (both online and desktop version) since at his bachelor degree. Now, Roche works as a columnist for SwifDoo PDF over the course of the last one year, and provides useful and practical solutions pertaining to various PDF topics for users from different features.

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