Free Adobe Acrobat Alternatives

The topic of alternatives to Adobe Acrobat to create and edit PDFs has been something that’s come up now and again. Here are a few freeware options worth considering…

  • PDFTK Builder (1.5 MB) – for combining/splitting/adding security and encryption/adding backgrounds or stamps/rotating PDFs

Obviously there’s a bunch of other options out there, but I thought this was a good start. Here’s what I have installed and use on my laptop:

  • Adobe Reader – for day-to-day viewing of PDFs.  This is what I leave the file association as so PDFs open in Adobe Reader by default.  Most of the time I don’t need to edit PDFs so this tends to work just fine for me for viewing.
  • PDF redirect –for creating PDFs.  This software seems to be the most flexible once you get used to the interface.  Like most PDF creation software, it creates a virtual printer and when you need to create a PDF, you just print to this printer and the software takes care of the rest, prompting you where to save the file.
  • PDF-XChange Viewer – This is one of only a couple of freeware solutions that allow you to add text and edit PDFs and it works very well.  You could easily use this as your reader as well and skip Adobe Reader altogether.
  • PDFTools – for when I need to combine, split, or encrypt PDFs.
  • PDFTK Builder – mainly for decrypting a PDF and sometimes for rearranging pages in a PDF.

And you may be thinking, “wow, that’s a lot of software to install,” but believe me, the 50 MB you’ll install is a heckuva lot nicer than the bloated 400 MB or so needed for the full Adobe Acrobat product… it’s also a lot cheaper!!!


— Jim
MCTS, MCSE, CCSP, CCEA, Server+, A+, and more!

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