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.


General Tools

Specific Tools


Best Free PDF Tools - General

PDFill PDF Tools  

A great set of pdf tools covering most functions.

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Limited features)
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.
Read full review...

PDF Shaper  

Offers a variety of tools to protect, modify and convert pdf documents

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Limited features)
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.
Read full review...

PDFTK Builder  

A simple way to merge or reorder selected pages of PDF files in one go

Our Rating: 
License: Free
Merge and reorder pdf pages in one go, supports split, rotate, background stamp, encrypt, etc.
Text watermark not supported, fewer features than PDFill PDF Tools.
Read full review...

PDFsam Basic  

Visually re-order or recompose multiple pages of PDF files.

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Limited features)
Supports visual organizing and re-ordering PDF pages in addition to the direct page number input.
Visual document composer occasionally encountered some errors.
Read full review...

PDF Shuffler  

A small app to merge or split pdf documents, re-arrange, rotate and crop pdf pages

Our Rating: 
License: Free
Easy to re-order, rotate, crop or remove pages, split or merge pdf files in interactive user interface, small size.
Lacking some features available in other pdf tools.
Read full review...

jPDF Tweak  

A Swiss Army Knife for PDF files

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Open source)
Support merge, split, reorder, rotate, watermark, format multiple pages, change page numbers, encrypt, add attachments, set viewer preference and metadata.
User interface less intuitive.
Read full review...

Best Free PDF Tools - Specific

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

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

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).

How about converting files to PDF online? 7-PDF Web Portal and some other websites such as 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

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.

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.

Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:



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Average: 4.3 (158 votes)


Thanks for this.. wasn't aware of this. BTW, the link you posted does not work... even after replacing the - with .

Gizmos will not allow me to post URLs !
Your submission has triggered the spam filter and will not be accepted.

remove "~"
replace "+" with "/" forward slash
- I checked it and it works

Thank you, it worked. And thanks for the information again. Now I know why they have been releasing updates for PdfXchange Viewer.
They are covered TommyBoy. Please follow the links given below. 1) PDF printers are reviewed in this article Best Free PDF Writer Software. 2) PDF-XChange Viewer is reviewed under this paragraph Annotate PDF Documents.

They often do, but not always. In this case, I confirmed with Universal Extractor that there are no CNET components. (Of course, the fact that does that sometimes has WOT and other implications.)

The truly intrepid could also look at that installer and roll their own version of it from the real installer by deleting unwanted components.

Agree with you Arithmomaniac. This particular download from CNET does not contain a wrapper like others do. As far as I can see, CNET has two types of download buttons shown below. The one with the "CNET Installer Enabled" needs extra caution as it may end up installing other software that users do not need. We recommend other better download sites such as if they host the same applications.     
Ah, thanks for the information. I thought CNET Secure Download meant it came with the wrapped download. I don't download from CNET now, but in this case, I guess it's okay, since I checked, and did not find Pdfill Pdf Tools as a separate download on download sites like Softpedia. It has the full package of Pdfill.
Not recommended, since CNET uses its own wrapper with the download, which is what we advise our users to avoid.
Thanks for the info Arithmomaniac.

I regularly merge a lot of PDFs into various files and have found PDF Redirect to be the easiest to use, mainly because of the thumbnail views of the files being merged.

Also, it keeps the list of files after merging. If you need to change one of the files, or add or delete files, it's easy to regenerate the merge.

This program apparently hasn't been updated for a while (I could suggest features) but it's surely worth an honorable mention.

Irfanview with the plugins and with Ghostscript installed can also merge PDFs.

Checking if your source PDF contains searchable text or imaged text may help.

please answer me which of these allows one to change the style of all text in a pdf in one move for printing.

@innn, this needs to modify the font properties of text in a pdf file using a pdf editor which is usually not free. Another way is to convert a pdf file to another file format for editing. See also: How to Modify Font Properties of the Text in a PDF A PDF File Allows Editing in 100% Layout Accuracy

Was searching twitter for tools and came across this awesome free PDF to Word converter called Convertii! Maybe it's worth adding to the list?

Excellent review!

Not sure if it's been pointed out yet or not, but you can "watermark" in PDFTK Builder. It's more cumbersome than toolkits that come with watermarking standard.

What I did to watermark was create a Word doc with the watermark I wanted and formatted it appropriately with line weights, font size, location on the document. Save it as a pdf.

Open up PDFTK Builder and select the Background/Stamp tab. Choose the Source PDF Document (the one to put the watermark in) then choose the Background or Stamp PDF Page (the watermark created in Word). Choose background or stamp then save it.

Like I said, more cumbersome than it has to be, but it can be done.


Some days ago I stumbled upon yet another freeware PDF tool that imo deserves its place on this page: PDF Shaper from Glorylogic (
Key features:
- extract text, images of other objects from single or multiple PDFs
- convert PDF to Word RTF or image, or convert image to PDF
- extract pages from PDF and save them as separate PDF files
- combine several PDF files into single PDF
- encrypt and decrypt PDF with password, set user permissions
- sign PDF or rotate pages
- nice and clean user interface

Thanks Geert for a good suggestion. PDF Shaper has now been included in this article, with a note on a bundled component as highlighted by MC.
Thank you for the suggestion Geert. :) Like a lot of the software in this category, PDF Shaper is bundled with unwanted components so users need to take care during the installation process to avoid these. MC - Site Manager.

Some PDF is not free.

It only extracted 5 pages then quit unless I purchased it.


Just downloaded and installed "PDF Creator". No sign of "Open Candy"
BUT ...
10MB download turned into a 46MB installation. Cloud sourced "updates". BS!!
My custom install folder was nominated as "C:\Programs2"
PDF Creator installed in correct folder
PDF Architect -- dumped secretly installed in "C:\Program Files"
Photo Notifier and Animation Creator -- secretly installed in "C:\Program Files"

Not worth the 46MB when I can get free "PDF-XChange at 22MB without any secrecy.

All touted "PDF Architect" features are only available with more downloads.
ie, Create, Convert, Insert, Review, Secure and Sign, Forms.
So what is PDF Creator providing.
The last tab on "PDF Architect" is "Activate/Register" ... activation = $$$
I will be trialing another freebie from those discussed on this blog
I do not like being lied to.

I pay/donate for programs that are up front and honest.

I have stopped using PdfCreator for these reasons. Earlier, I used to use it because it was from Sourceforge, and it was free. But, later on, PdfCreator started to become increasingly bloated with bundled extras. It's not worth using anymore. I have switched to DoPdf since then. Haven't used PdfCreator since a few years now. It's a shame what they do to a good software.

The installer for PDFsam is now bundled with OpenCandy. The first paragraph on the download page says: "The downloads may include advertisement offers to finance further development, read here why." If you click on the words "read here" and then scroll down to the paragraph that says: "I don’t care, give me my free beer!" and click on the words "found here" you will be taken to Sourceforge where you can download an OpenCandy-free version, which also happens to be a portable version of PDFsam (Zip file, no installation required). Love PDFsam, works great! Thanks for the great article!

Many thanks for the useful info CB. It's now updated in the review.
I tried to download this, the installer has opencandy.

FYI: DigiSigner is not freeware as far as I can tell. There is a trial.

Good info PaulJRichardson. Apparently the latest version has turned commercial but you might want to check out the last free version which is still available for download from third party websites. One of them is shown at the Quick Selection Guide.

"Some PDF to Word Converter" doesn't seem to be "Unrestricted Freeware"
any more. It converts up to 5 pages followed by a nag screen to Buy/Register.