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Best Free PDF Tools



A PDF tool comes in handy when you need to deal with PDF files such as to merge or split pages, add a header, footer or watermark, highlight or annotate PDF documents, or convert from other files to PDFs or vice versa. In this review, multipurpose programs offering general features for merging PDF files, splitting or re-ordering pages, etc within a single application are discussed under General Tools. Those designed for a more specific task are grouped under Specific Tools.


In a Hurry?

Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide



General Tools

Specific Tools


General Tools - Merge, Split, Reorder & More

PDFill PDF ToolsPDFill PDF Tools is my favorite with its nice, clean user interface covering most  functions, including merge pdf files, split or reorder pages, rotate or crop pdf pages, add headers and footers complete with page numbers, etc.

Watermarks can be added either by typing in some text (such as ‘DRAFT’ for documents to be reviewed), or by inserting a background image in PDF format.

Some additional features are supported, such as encrypt and decrypt with security options; reformat multiple pages into one page; delete, flatten or list PDF form fields; convert PDF to images or vice versa; and convert a PostScript file to PDF.

Note that PDFill PDF Tools can be run from within PDFill PDF Editor, which is not free, but a seperate installer containing the Tools only is also provided by the developer. The PDFill PDF Tools does not support functions such as converting PDF to text, making annotations, etc., however, those features are all available in the Specific Tools listed in the next section.


PDF ShaperAnother free application PDF Shaper offers a different set of PDF tools which include Split and Merge PDFs, Encrypt and Decrypt PDF, Convert PDF to Image and vice versa, Extract Images from PDF, Rotate Pages or Sign PDF, Extract Text from PDF and Convert PDF to Word RTF.

PDF Shaper lacks such tools such as adding watermark, adding header and footer, reorder pages, crop pages, adding PDF information, etc. available in PDFill PDF Tools, but it has some other tools that PDFill PDF Tools does not have, such as Extract Text from PDF and Convert PDF to Word RTF.

PDF Shaper sports a clean user interface and it's easy to use. However, the function of Convert PDF to Word RTF only did up to three pages of conversion and specifying pages for splitting PDFs encountered an error when tried.

During installation of PDF Shaper, uncheck the option for bundling a toolbar or any other component which you do not need.


PDFTK BuilderPDFTK Builder is a useful alternative. The big advantage of PDFTK Builder is that it can merge or reorder selected pages of PDF files at one go, which is much simpler if you have a lot to do.

PDFTK Builder also supports split, rotate, background/stamp and encrypt features. Besides these, it has no other additional features.

It's worth noting that PDFTK Builder lacks a basic function (available in PDFill PDF Tools) for watermarking PDF documents with background text—this can be important if you need to mark your documents as 'Confidential', 'Draft', etc.


jPDF TweakIf your priority is to get the maximum number of features from a single freeware package, then jPDF Tweak will be a good choice. However, its user interface is not as straightforward as in either of the two applications reviewed above. Its merge, split and reorder functions are available under the ‘input’ tab, and a new filename has to be entered in the ‘output’ tab.

This feature rich program allows you to rotate, watermark and format multiple pages. You can change page numbers and chapter bookmarks. And jPDF Tweak also offers encryption functions and lets you add attachments to PDF documents.

Additionally, jPDF Tweak enables you to set viewer preferences and document properties, including title, author, subject and keywords.


PDFsamPDFsam (PDF Split and Merge) is well worth trying if you need to visually re-order or recompose multiple pages of PDF files.

You can mix, merge or extract, split and rotate pages by specifying the page numbers. However, PDFsam also lets you re-organize PDF pages in a thumbnail view. In this mode, you can easily work with thumbnails to merge, delete, rotate or re-order PDF pages and save the results as another PDF file.

Since PDFsam is a Java application, it will run on any operating system that supports Java. The basic version of PDFsam is free for use. The installer is bundled with an advertising program OpenCandy but you can get from here a standalone zip file with no such bundle.


PDF ShufflerFor Linux users, PDF Shuffler should make it much easier for you to re-arrange pages in a pdf document, or merge and split pdf files.

After importing one or more pdf files to PDF Shuffler, the various pages appear as thumbnails, making it easy to merge, re-order or delete. You can right-click a thumbnail to rotate or crop a page before exporting to a new pdf file.

PDFShuffler is a small application running on Linux. Some distros, such as Ubuntu, include PDF Shuffler in the repository for ease of download and setup.


Specific Tools

The free applications reviewed in this section are helpful for their specific functions mostly not covered by the General Tools.

Edit a PDF File

Oracle PDF Import Extension (formerly Sun PDF Import Extension) allows you create a hybrid pdf file with LibreOffice or OpenOffice Writer. A hybrid pdf file is basically a pdf file containing an embedded odf source file. The beauty of this type of file is that not only can it be viewed with a normal PDF viewer, it can also be opened for full text editing with LibreOffice or OpenOffice Writer in 100% layout accuracy. See this article A PDF File Allows Editing in 100% Layout Accuracy for details.

If you need to edit a normal or non-hybrid pdf file, LibreOffice or OpenOffice Draw is one of the free options available. You can use it to edit small portions of text, add or remove images and so on with no layout adjustments.

Convert PDF to Text

FreeOCR.netSome PDF to TXT Converter is a light tool which preserves text and layout while supporting drag and drop, batch conversion and encrypted pdf files. Alternatively, try the latest version of Nitro PDF Reader which gives you an option either to keep text in paragraphs for easy re-alignment, or to break each line to a width of any number of characters of your choice. is a good scan and OCR (Optical Character Recognition) program which lets you extract text from scanned PDF documents. Moreover, images from scanned PDF documents can be selected and placed on the clipboard. (Note: The online installer may offer third-party software during installation. Click the "Decline" button to reject the offer you may not need then the "next" button to continue with the setup. See Installer Warning) For an online OCR solution, try

Convert PDF to Word/Excel

Free online conversion is available from Nitro PDF for PDF-to-Word Converter and PDF-to-Excel Converter. Choose the file you need, click the "Convert" button and check your inbox for the converted files.

Convert Various Formats to PDF

7-PDF Maker7-PDF Maker is a powerful tool to convert a wide range of formats to PDF. It can convert to PDF files generated by Word, Excel, Powerpoint, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, StarOffice, Maths and AutoCad, and will also convert images, text or web based files. The setup comes with a choice between a Command line version or Windows Explorer integration.

If you are using office applications such as LibreOffice or OpenOffice, or word processors such as Jarte, they come with a feature to export files to PDF. Newer versions of Microsoft Office also allow a free add-in for saving documents as PDF.

Whether you choose to use 7-PDF Maker or any of these applications, you should find that clickable hyperlinks and bookmarks are nicely conserved in the converted or exported PDF files, along with the original page layouts.

An alternative approach is to install a virtual PDF printer, such as Bullzip, which will 'print' out PDF files of text or other contents. Note, however, that clickable hyperlinks and bookmarks will not usually be preserved in the resulting PDF file.

i2pdfIf you only need to convert image files to PDF, my favorite would be i2pdf. It works even better than the tool "Convert Images to PDF" included in PDFill PDF Tools. Download and unzip i2pdf and run the executable directly (no installation required). This program is portable and user friendly—just drag and drop the images on the program window, click the "Build PDF" button and it's done. When setting the page output, "paperless" format is a helpful option if you'd like to convert portrait or landscape images to the PDF file and view them on the screen without blank paper margins.

How about converting files to PDF online? 7-PDF Web Portal and many other websites such as kool Converter or Document Converter eXPress also offer online conversion to PDF.

Extract Images from PDF

Some PDF Images Extract is a good choice. You can extract all images from several PDF files by batch or pull images from selected pages in a PDF file. Images can be saved in jpg, bmp, png, tiff, gif or tga formats. It costs no money to use this application, but it is nagware which prompts a dialogue to ask for registration with payment each time you use it.

Annotate PDF Documents

PDF-XChange Viewer enables you to annotate PDF documents. It allows a variety of operations, including highlighting, crossing or underlining text; drawing shapes; stamping and filling out PDF forms with a built-in typewriter; insert, edit or rename bookmarks. Unfortunately some advanced features are available only to the paid-for Pro version.

The good news is that now Foxit Reader has made this particular feature, together with most other basic annotating tools, available for free. If you're looking for an alternative, Foxit Reader is definitely a good choice.

For Linux users, Okular is a good try. It supports annotations, highlighting, drawing lines and shapes, adding textboxes and stamps, and selecting and saving part of a document as text or in an image format.

Create and Edit Bookmarks

JPdfBookmarksJPdfBookmarks allows you to create and edit bookmarks on existing PDF files. You can add bookmarks to quick jump to a certain page of PDF documents, point to another PDF file in the file-system or go a website in a browser.

Bookmarks can be easily renamed or edited. To set a bookmark to jump to a certain paragraph in a page—first browse to that paragraph, then right-click a bookmark, select "Set Destination" then "Replace Current". When completed, save the file as a new PDF file and it's all set.

Make Fillable PDF Forms

PDFescape is a helpful web application which lets you create or fill in PDF forms online, straight from your browser. In addition to creating and editing fillable forms, you can also add text, links and sticky notes, draw basic shapes, and whiteout contents. PDF Escape is now entirely free. If you want to save your work and return later you'll need to register.

Crop PDF Pages

Briss is a cross-platform Java application which makes visual cropping of PDF pages much faster and easier. You just load a pdf file, draw one or more rectangles with a mouse to crop the regions you want from a page and then save them as another file. If you load a PDF file with multiple pages, you can see the odd and even numbered pages overlaid and crop them easily in one go.

Set Viewer Preferences and Metadata

BeCyPDFMetaEdit is a good find. It allows you to edit most metadata such as title, subject and author of your PDF files, and customize viewer preferences, slide show page transitions, page labels, etc. Other than the GUI version, it also has a command version for batch processing with parameters explained in the help file supporting most of the application functionality.

"Tweak PDF" is another choice with a simple user interface, but it lacks a slideshow setting and some other features. The program is portable and available for download at Portable Freeware. It has been scanned clean on VirusTotal. (NB: The link to the developer's homepage is not provided here as it has a bad WOT rating upon checking).

Digitally Sign a PDF File

DigiSignerDigiSigner is a useful tool to digitally sign PDF files and verify signatures. This process allows you to ensure that important PDF documents such as invoices and contracts are not tampered with. The application supports smartcards and USB tokens, certificates from Windows key store and standard PFX (Personal Information Exchange) files.

The latest version of this application allows you to create a certificate or PFX file with DigiSigner proper. Additional features include the ability to create and edit multiple signature appearances using fonts and images, batch signing, add text and images to documents, etc.

Compare Two PDF Files

DiffPDF is a portable open-source application for you to compare two PDF files and see their differences in words, characters or appearance. To compare PDF files, select two different PDF documents via the File #1 and File #2 buttons then click Compare. You can also save your comparison result as a PDF file. The program runs on multi platforms including Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

Recover Forgotten Password

Try PDFCrak which runs on Linux or DOS (the version for DOS is available for download here). The only supported usage of this software is to recover passwords and/or content that you own but have lost access to as stated in the FAQ.

Booklet Printing

Gimposition (or Govert's Simple Imposition Tool) allows you to re-order and reformat pages of your PDF document to prepare for booklet printing with a foldmark, 2-up printing with page separation lines, or place two equal copies side by side with cutmarks on a top page. No installation is required, just unzip the download, run the executable. It's straightforward, fast and easy to use. See also this review.

Other Functions

To add attachments to a PDF, try "PDF Bundle" available for download at Softpedia. The program has been scanned clean on VirusTotal. (NB: The link to the developer's homepage is not provided here as it has a bad WOT rating upon checking).

To compress a PDF file, try this portable application Free PDF Compressor (last free version 1.12), or follow this method mentioned in our Freeware Forum.


The following free applications offer particular functions, some of which are available in the main reviews. They were brought up in comments here or noted from other sources. I am listing them here with brief descriptions and links to the related sites for ease of reference.

  • PDFedit, a free PDF editor with GUI interface, allows for complete editing of PDF documents and changing raw PDF objects. It's currently a beta and not easy to use for average users.
  • Sheel Khanna's PDFTools allows users to join multiple PDFs, split or re-arrange a PDF, encrypt or decrypt and stamp a pdf. It also includes a tool to convert XML to a PDF file.
  • Gios PDF Splitter And Merger allows merging and splitting of documents with drag and drop features.
  • GUI for PDFTK Another GUI for the multi-platform PDFTK for merging and splitting pdf files, as well as various other  functions.
  • PdfMerge allows merging and splitting of documents with bookmark import.
  • Free PDF to Word Doc Converter  converts pdf to doc.
  • Free PDF to Word Converter converts pdf to doc or rtf.
  • SpeedPDF Stamp adds an image as watermark.
  • SpeedPDF Page Numberer allows adding page numbers with variable formats.
  • Freeware pdf Unlocker allows removal of PDF restrictions on printing, editing and copying text.
Have Your Say

You are invited to share and discuss your views in our freeware forum. To post in the forum you need to register first but that's quick and immediate. Alternatively, anyone can leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

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Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:


Quick Selection Guide

PDFill PDF Tools
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Clean and nice user interface, include most features such as merge, split, reorder, rotate, header and footer with page number, watermark, encrypt and decrypt, convert PDF to images or vice versa, convert PostScript to PDF.
Short of features provided by Specific Tools.
5.8 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Win 98 to Win 7

The application is available as a part of the entire PDFill package or as a tool by itself. It requires GhostScript to be installed before use.

PDFTK Builder
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Merge and reorder of pages at one go, supports split, rotate, background stamp, encrypt, etc.
Text watermark not support, less features than PDFill PDF Tools.
2 MB
32 bit only
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.
Windows 98-Vista
PDF Shuffler
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Easy to re-order, rotate, crop or remove pages, split or merge pdf files in interactive user interface, small size.
Lacking other features than those mentioned.
33 KB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
7-PDF Maker
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Converts a wide range of formats to PDF, comes with a Command line version or a Windows Explorer integration.
Provides a tool for conversion to PDF only. The portable version is not freeware.
53.06 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware

The current version of this product is bundled with OpenCandy.

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
User friendly, drag and drop, paperless format to suit viewing on the screen, other various options available.
Designed only for converting images to PDF, no other PDF tools available.
1.0 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.
Windows XP, Vista, 7
Available either as a web service or stand alone program
Digitally sign PDF documents and verify signatures to secure your important documents.
Based on ICEpdf viewer and might not be ideal for viewing PDFs in some cases.
8.4 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows, Mac OS X or other systems, with Java installed.
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Supports visual organizing and re-ordering PDF pages in addition to the direct page number input.
Visual document composer occasionally encountered some errors.
15 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows, Linux and Mac OS, with Java Runtime Environment

The installer contains OpenCandy but you can download a portable zip file here without bundling such advertising program.

PDF Shaper
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
A collection of useful PDF tools including merge and split PDFs, encrypt and decrypt PDF, extract text and images, convert to and from images, etc.
Convert PDF to Word RTF up to three pages, specifying pages to split PDFs encountered an error when tried. Bundled with an optional toolbar.
10.5 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Free for private use only
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP and above
jPDF Tweak
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Support merge, split, reorder, rotate, watermark, format multiple pages, change page numbers, encrypt, add attachments, set viewer preference and metadata.
User interface less intuitive.
724 KB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Win 98-8

Requires Java Runtime Environment (JRE):
- version 5 for Windows 98 & ME and version 6 for Windows 2000 is no longer available from Oracle;
- version 7 for Windows XP is no longer supported but updates are available until May 2015.
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Extract text from scanned PDF documents, images from scanned PDF documents can be selected and placed on the clipboard.
Short of other features available to General Tools. During installation, prompting to opt in for other software that you may not need.
11.08 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP to Windows 8

The online installer offers third-party software during installation. Click the "Decline" button to reject the offer you may not need then the "next" button to continue with the setup.



This category is maintained by volunteer editor Jojo Yee. Registered members can contact the editor with comments or suggestions by clicking here.
You can visit the Google+ profile page of Jojo Yee here.

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Average: 4.3 (129 votes)
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by Anupam on 1. June 2010 - 18:16  (50828)

The download for the file is available at the bottom of i2pdf page. Please take a look again.

by MidnightCowboy on 1. June 2010 - 18:24  (50831)

I couldn't get that link to connect either. Try this:

by Anupam on 1. June 2010 - 18:37  (50832)

I was able to get to the i2pdf page without any problem... and I even started the download by clicking on the download link. Its strange that its not working for you two :S

by Jojo Yee on 2. June 2010 - 2:02  (50852)

The download link at the i2pdf homepage works for me too.

by MidnightCowboy on 2. June 2010 - 8:44  (50875)

Maybe it's a browser settings issue although I can't see where in mine. Tried with Opera on Ubuntu just now and get the same result - the D/L link just returns me to the main page.

by lmg on 22. June 2010 - 18:41  (52754)

Do you have session cookies disabled ?

I don't mean permanent cookies... only session cookies.

If yes try to enable them, if you haven't something against it. :)

by MidnightCowboy on 22. June 2010 - 18:57  (52755)

Thanks for this. Highly simple solution which I hadn't thought of. I deplore cookies and block out everyone I can which explains why this wouldn't work!

by lmg on 22. June 2010 - 22:45  (52773)

I'm i2pdf author and that's why my guess was an easy one :)

I had to use session cookies to prevent some deep linking to the zip files, I'm asking people to at least visit the page before downloading a zip from my site.

Even that was not enough and I had to add some other thing to limit this.

Life it's hard.

by MidnightCowboy on 23. June 2010 - 9:28  (52832)

Thanks for the explanation - much appreciated.

by Anonymous on 31. May 2010 - 6:38  (50685)

I hope you can help,

I am looking for a free PDF converter that will convert a doc or docx file into a pdf. The 2 issues that I have is that my original documents have hyperlinks, that must be maintained in the pdf file, and most important, the original doc files have images embedded in the text with wrap around text around the images.

The PDF converters that I have tried all seem to separate the images from the text or simply place the images without wrap around text.

by Jojo Yee on 31. May 2010 - 9:35  (50694)

7-PDF Maker mentioned in this article works for me to convert Word documents to PDF, keeping clickable hyperlinks and the page layout that includes the images wrapped around with text.

Hope that it works for you too.

by Anonymous on 31. May 2010 - 10:32  (50696)

That seems to do the trick perfectly

by Anonymous on 27. May 2010 - 17:55  (50471)

Just tried Nitro PDF. What a bust!
After installing, it wouldn't even open without crashing!
Uninstalled it.
Win XP, SP3.

by Anonymous on 25. May 2010 - 2:44  (50242)

Very useful PDF analyser;

Regards, Mike Connor

by Anonymous on 25. April 2010 - 14:17  (48394) is a good repository for free PDF tools and libraries.

by Anonymous on 21. April 2010 - 9:13  (48118)

Hi, here is one new free tool called DigiSigner to digitally sign pdf files at
You can start it also online, no need for installation. It shows you the document that you sign and you can place the signature where you want on the document.
It supports X.509 certificates, PFX key stores, windows key store, signature verification.
There are also desktop versions at available.

by Anonymous on 16. April 2010 - 22:16  (47817)

For those looking for an article on more PDF to Word tools, here's a relatively new article:

by Anonymous on 17. April 2010 - 3:18  (47832)

I tried to convert a 562KB pdf file on (rated 9/10 there) and it gave me a 4.26MB Word file with some formats changed.

Tried the same on PDFtoWord from Nitro and it gave me a 1.27 MB Word file with most formats retained. Looks good, though I need to receive a converted file via email.

by Anonymous on 15. April 2010 - 17:19  (47702)

DocumentBurster is a free tool which
takes as input PDF reports and bursts them based on meta-data. Splitted documents can be easily delivered to destinations like email and ftp.
Whether sending daily confirmations, monthly statements, or other critical reports or correspondence, DocumentBurster reduces costs and saves time by eliminating the labor-intensive process of hand-mailing or e-mailing each document separately.

by Anonymous on 7. May 2010 - 20:19  (49300)

Bursts them into what? Just separate pieces that need to be reassembled somehow? And why would I want to do this? It is very easy to email pdfs back and forth, and to upload for download (I do both all the time). Sorry if I'm being dense, but I don't understand what your software does or why it is useful.

by Anonymous on 9. April 2010 - 15:50  (47305)

I was looking for something to split PDF files by bookmarks. The solution I have found is free and works like a charm. It is listed above and it is called pdfsam (Split and Merge). It allowed me to split a 175 page document into 175 individual files, each named with the bookmark title (see the information in the pdfsam wiki at I was just about to splurge 100 dollars on a commercial PDF product until I found this.

by Jojo Yee on 10. April 2010 - 2:17  (47338)

Great for sharing it with us.

by Anonymous on 5. April 2010 - 22:27  (47049)

I need a program to convert TIFF to PDF in batch mode (I have 16,000 files to convert). Some tools listed here let you select multiple TIFF files, but the result is a multi-page PDF, whereas I need a separate single-page PDF file corresponding to each TIFF file.

The only tool listed here that works in batch mode is the command-line add-on for 7-PDF Maker, but this program does not seem to allow you to define the page size (my images are 17x11 inches, but the 7-PDF program forces the PDF page to 8.5x11).

Does anyone know of a free tool to do this?

by lmg on 12. May 2010 - 14:28  (49645)

Hi Jim.

Did you try the irfanview + IMPDF (PDF plugin) combo ?

I'm not 100% sure but I believe it should be possible to use it to make conversions from the command line and convert a TIFF to a PDF that way.

by Anonymous on 30. March 2010 - 21:13  (46535)

Hi all, does anyone know of a PDF tool that will allow different headers and footers on selected pages of a PDF file? For example, header 1 on page 1, header 2 on pages 2-10, header 3 on pages 11-12 and so on. So far the PDF tools I have evaluated only allow one header for the entire document?
In addition, do are there any tools that allow a find and replace for text?

I have not yet tried the OpenOffice plug-in but will give it a try and will report back.

by Anupam on 30. March 2010 - 21:17  (46536)

I cannot help with your first query. But, for your second query, please look at this link, you will find software suggestions, for find and replace.

by Anonymous on 23. March 2010 - 20:19  (46081)

I recommend PDFCreator (Windows only) which installs itself as a "virtual" printer.
So in any print command that you use (from any Windows application), you can choose PDFCreator and it will render your printout into a PDF file. Quite cool. And it's an open-source application, which makes it even better...

Amir K

by Jojo Yee on 24. March 2010 - 3:14  (46091)

Thanks for the comment. PDFCreator is included in Best Free PDF Writer.

by Anonymous on 23. March 2010 - 16:17  (46060)

I loved the PDF-XChange Viewer soooo much, I purchased it for work and for home use! Then, I got my company use it. They all love it! It is one of the more useful tools for annotating and editing a PDF document. I used it for document reviews where there were more than 1 reviewer to comment on my technical document. If I had to choose just 1 PDF tool, and I have used every single one of them, this one would be it!!!

by Anonymous on 23. March 2010 - 8:01  (46038)

Another free Linux tool that can be used to edit PDF files is PDFEdit (there is a Cygwin version of this that can be used in Windows but I haven't tried it). It can edit just about anything in a PDF file, comes with a GUI, and is pretty easy to use for small text editing changes. For more complex changes though, it's not for the casual user or faint of heart. However, if you are a developer, you don't mind learning a little scripting, an API, or some PDF document internals it can be a powerful tool.