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 Best Free PDF Tools - General.
- 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
- Set Viewer Preference and Metadata
- Compare Two PDF Files
- Recover Forgotten Password
- Booklet Printing
- Compress PDFs
See Also Best Free PDF Tools - General
The free applications reviewed below are helpful for their specific functions mostly not covered in this separate section Best Free PDF Tools - General.
Edit a PDF File
PDF Import for Apache OpenOffice (formerly Oracle PDF Import Extension) lets you create a hybrid pdf file with 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 OpenOffice Writer in 100% layout accuracy. See this article A PDF File Allows Editing in 100% Layout Accuracy for details.
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
Some PDF to TXT Converter is a light tool which preserves text and layout while supporting drag and drop, batch conversion and encrypted pdf files.
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 Free-OCR.com.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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).
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. More features may be available in the new version but it is not free.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Related Products and Links
You might want to check out these articles too:
- A PDF File Allows Editing in 100% Layout Accuracy
- Word and Phrase search in PDF Files
- How to Convert PDF Files to Word Doc Files for Free (online solutions)
- Best Free PDF Writer
- Best Free Non-Adobe PDF Reader
This category is maintained by volunteer editor Jojo Yee. Registered members can contact the editor with comments or suggestions by clicking here.