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.
- Acrobat Reader is a free download from Adobe. There are also free third-party readers available.
- Apple Preview is part of macOS.
- Microsoft Word is available to all faculty and staff at no charge as part of our Microsoft Office site license.
- Microsoft Word is available to students at no charge as part of our Office 365 ProPlus license.
- Adobe Acrobat Pro is available to faculty and staff at no charge, but only with a demonstrated business need, as there is a limit to the number of active licenses.
|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 ||yes ||yes ||yes|
|Fill in PDF forms||yes||yes||yes|
|Electronically sign PDFs||yes||yes||yes|
Unlock encrypted PDFs
|Combine multiple PDFs into a single PDF||yes||yes ||yes|
|Convert Microsoft Word documents to PDF format||yes||yes|
|Convert PDF documents to Microsoft Word format||yes ||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 |
|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|
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.