We recommend these free specific PDF tools that are designed for more specific tasks.
This list reviews PDF tools that are designed for a more specific task. Multipurpose programs offering general features for merging PDF files, splitting or re-ordering pages, etc., within a single application are reviewed and rated in this section General PDF Tools.
- Edit a PDF File
- Convert PDF to Text
- Convert PDF to Word/Excel
- Convert Various Formats to PDF
- Extract Images from PDF
- Annotate PDF Documents
- Create and Edit Bookmarks
- Make Fillable PDF Forms
- Crop PDF Pages
- Add Margins to PDF
- Set Viewer Preference and Metadata
- Compare Two PDF Files
- Recover Forgotten Password
- Booklet Printing
- Compress PDFs
Edit a PDF File
AbleWord, which is a capable word processor, can be used to open pdf file directly and edit small portions of text, add or remove images and so on before saving back to the pdf file. It’s free for personal and even commercial use. LibreOffice or OpenOffice Draw is also another free option available for such purpose.
Convert PDF to Text
FreeOCR 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.
For an online OCR solution, try Soda PDF Online.
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 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.
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.
If you only need to convert image files to PDF, my favorite is 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).
How about converting files to PDF online? Some websites such as docuPub offer online conversion to PDF.
Extract Images from PDF
Sejda’s online tools include this useful feature. Upload a PDF file, then download the extracted images in a zip file to your computer. Files uploaded to its server are automatically deleted after 2 hours.
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
JPdfBookmarks 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.
Add Margins to PDF
If your PDF file does not provide some minimum margins for printing, its content might be cut off when printed. Use this online tool Add Margin to PDF via i2PDF, you can easily add left, right, top and bottom margins to every PDF page to improve page layout for printing and reading.
Set Viewer Preferences and Metadata
AutoMetadata is a good find. It is a standalone application to explore and edit metadata, document properties and set viewer preferences in multiple PDF documents with a minimal effort. Free for both commercial and non-commercial use.
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 Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. More features may be available in the new version but it is not free.
Recover Forgotten Password
Govert’s Simple Imposition 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.
PDF Compressor is an online solution to compress PDF files into smaller sizes for sending or sharing with others. It keeps the documents printable and zoomable without changing the DPI of the documents. The data you submitted or uploaded to its server is deleted after one hour.
iLovePDF also has a tool to compress PDF files to reduce the file sizes while optimizing for maximal PDF quality.