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Working with PDFs Comparison Table

This article applies to: Software Licensing


Many people will find that they can work with PDFs using only free tools, although some advanced features can only be found in Adobe Acrobat Pro.

I Need To... Acrobat Reader Apple Preview Microsoft Word Acrobat Pro
Open/read PDF documents yes yes yes yes
Add comments and markups to PDFs yes [1] yes [1] yes [2] yes
Fill in PDF forms yes yes yes
Electronically sign PDFs yes yes yes

Unlock encrypted PDFs

yes yes yes
Combine multiple PDFs into a single PDF yes yes [2] yes
Create PDFs yes yes
Convert Microsoft Word documents to PDF format yes yes
Convert PDF documents to Microsoft Word format yes [3] yes
Edit text/layout of a PDF without converting it to another format yes
Create fillable PDF forms yes
Create PDF documents for others to sign digitally yes [4]
Use built-in OCR to convert scanned text to editable text yes
Encrypt or password-protect a PDF yes
Use Adobe's online collaboration tools with PDFs yes

Table Notes

1 - The person creating the PDF must enable commenting.

2 - Requires converting the PDF to MS Word format, then back to PDF when finished editing.

3 - This works well with simple documents, but complex formatting and layout elements may not convert accurately.

4 - Requires separate Adobe Sign license.

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