- Adobe Acrobat can be expensive, with subscription costs adding up for businesses
- The free version of Acrobat, Acrobat Reader, lacks many essential features
- Alternatives to Adobe Acrobat include Nitro PDF Pro, PDF24 Creator, Foxit PDF Editor, and EaseUS PDF Editor
Adobe Acrobat has become a staple of office life. Is it as essential as we think, or is it a relic of a digital time gone by? Just because Acrobat has been the standard program for opening PDFs for decades, that doesn’t mean we can’t look for better alternatives. Perhaps one of the reasons we hang onto Acrobat is that we are unaware of other options available. Here are four reasons to avoid Adobe Acrobat today, as well as a few other choices.
What Is Adobe Acrobat?
At face value, the subject of documents may seem a little boring. However, if you think about it, they are far more than a bunch of information and words. They are an expression of ideas and an essential part of connecting people through communication. Adobe Acrobat is a fundamental tool used in the process of sharing information and ideas across many platforms. The program is the most successful of the PDF applications developed by Adobe Systems. Acrobat enables users to view PDFs both online and offline. In addition, it allows users the ability to create PDFs, as well as edit and print those files.
Acrobat has other useful features such as an e-signature solution and the ability to edit and integrate documents from across the Adobe platform. The program also provides business collaborators the ability to share and edit work from virtually any device. Collaboration is easy, no matter what operating system each member of the team may be using.
A recent partnership with Microsoft allowed Acrobat to seamlessly integrate with a few of Microsoft’s apps. This was an attempt to streamline the workflow for users of both companies’ products. Now you can create, edit, share, and sign PDFs directly within Microsoft 365, Teams, Outlook, and others. There is also a feature designed to incorporate smart integrations with certain daily-use apps such as Google and Box.
Reasons to Avoid Adobe Acrobat
Acrobat is the original program for working with PDFs. In fact, the PDF was developed specifically for Acrobat. In the meantime, other programs and apps have popped up that can handle PDFs just as well as the original. Now that viable alternatives are available, it’s time to take an honest look at some of the drawbacks of Adobe Acrobat.
Adobe Acrobat Can Be Expensive
Adobe Acrobat provides some truly great applications and PDF tools. The problem is that many of these features are behind a paywall. An Acrobat Standard Subscription will set you back $12.99 a month. It is $19.99 if you need the features the Pro Subscription offers. That price is just for individuals.
For Businesses, the Pro version will cost $22.19 per month, per license. If you have a large team, that can add up. If you own a small business that consistently has to be budget-conscious, that can be a luxury you may not be able to afford. So if your business requires your employees to create, edit, annotate, convert, and print PDF files, you could be in a bit of a predicament. This alone could lead you to seek out cheaper alternatives.
The Free Version Doesn’t Include Many Features
For those of you objecting to the first point, saying “Wait a minute, Acrobat is free,” I’ll take the opportunity to point something out. While there is a free version of Acrobat, it doesn’t include all the features of Acrobat Pro. The free version, Acrobat Reader, is exactly what it sounds like. It allows users to read PDFs but little else. If you or members of your team need to access editing features, this free version isn’t enough.
It’s great that Adobe provides any kind of service for free. However, it is a bit like Microsoft allowing people to read but not edit Word documents. In a way, it’s less a free service and more of a promotion. The hope here is that people will open documents, become frustrated that they can’t access the features they need, and subscribe out of desperation. Acrobat Reader is great if you just need to look at a document. Otherwise, however, it does not provide much else.
Editing Can Be Difficult
While Acrobat makes it easy to share files, it doesn’t make it very easy to collaborate. If you need several people to make changes to a document down the line, unless everyone involved has Acrobat Pro, PDF is not a great format in general for that kind of workflow. There is a workaround if you wish to circumvent Adobe’s editing features entirely. Collaborators can always edit files in another program and then convert them to PDF once the editing process has been completed. However, at that point, it might be just as easy to look into an alternative to Adobe Acrobat.
You May Pay for Features You Don’t Need
Adobe Acrobat Pro is as stacked with features as Adobe Acrobat Reader is limited in them. This can be a double-edged sword when you look at the price tag. Sure, it’s great to have any tool ever created for PDFs, but how many will you and your team realistically use? It’s the classic bundle dilemma. A product is loaded with features the average user will never touch, making it seem like a better deal than it actually is. If all you need is to read and edit PDFs, then perhaps you should consider an alternative to Adobe Acrobat Pro.
Alternatives to Adobe Acrobat
The good news is that there are a handful of alternatives to Adobe Acrobat that have similar, intuitive interfaces and tools such as PDF editing. No need to pay for a Creative Cloud subscription or other features you may not use. Acrobat is, and most likely will remain, the industry standard for editing and amending PDFs, but if it isn’t a good match for your workflow or your budget, it’s worth finding a program that will meet your needs. It should be noted that there are dozens of options now, and a new one may pop up that blows all these away, but for the time being here are a few selections that you can use instead of Acrobat.
Nitro PDF Pro
If you are one of those people who is absolutely, positively looking to avoid subscriptions like the plague, Nitro PDF Pro is most likely the option for you. Nitro won’t hit you with those annoying continuous payments. You make a one-time purchase of a license and then you own it in perpetuity. If you do buy a license, you might be surprised to find a toolkit that is remarkably comparable to Adobe Acrobat’s. In contrast to Adobe, the Nitro interface is intuitive, making for an easy, user-friendly experience. This is a selling point for some who find the boundless tools of Acrobat a bit overwhelming at times.
Changes to existing PDF documents, or even the creation of a new PDF, are a breeze with Nitro’s tools. Users who often collaborate will be delighted to find tools that allow them to make annotations, notes, and instructions for their colleagues. One of the few drawbacks to Nitro seems to be editing the content of a PDF created elsewhere. The process appears to lack the seamless quality a lot of the other Nitro tools contain. Rest assured, however, the other tools all seem to perform as smoothly as expected. The functionality of being able to convert files to and from PDFs might be this program’s bread and butter.
Nitro PDF Pro: Is It a Good Value?
For users who are looking for a way to perform edits to PDFs, annotate them, and make numerous alterations to them, Nitro is a good Adobe Acrobat alternative. It’s also compatible with either PC or a Mac, which is a bonus. The price point of $180 per license makes it nice for people who want to own a program outright and not worry about monthly or annual service payments. Volume pricing for businesses is also offered, so double-check what license fits your need before clicking the purchase button.
The main drawback of PDF24 Creator is that it is only available for Windows. If you are a PC user, though, this may just be one of the best Adobe Acrobat alternatives out there today. You would think that a no-cost desktop app that works offline and is designed with low-spec PCs in mind would be limited in the number of features. With PDF24 Creator, you’d be surprisingly mistaken. This is one of those rare examples of free software that actually exceeds expectations by going above and beyond. Shockingly stacked with features, it has anything you might need when creating and editing PDFs.
Whether you need to compress, merge, or convert existing PDFs, you’ll find tools that perform to surprising standards. Things that seem like extras such as eSign, OCR, and even creating a new PDF from scratch are included for no cost.
The interface is well-organized and intuitive while focusing predominantly on productivity. Finding what you need when you’re in a hurry won’t be a problem, although the layout is overall a bit clunkier than Adobe’s. It may even trump Acrobat when it comes to filling out forms, but that is subjective.
PDF24 Creator: Is It a Good Value?
Whether or not PDF25 Creator can beat Acrobat when it comes to filling out forms, a free and unlimited program that can be a serious competitor to Adobe Acrobat is an unbelievable deal. User experiences may vary and many may not find the workflow as seamless as Adobe but, hey, it’s free.
Foxit PDF Editor
Much like Adobe, Foxit has the advantage of having been in the PDF game for decades. That sort of longevity has its perks — like being able to work out the kinks. It can also give you a little piece of mind. If Foxit can get high-profile clients like Amazon, Google, Dell, and Intel to offer their endorsements through glowing reviews, then maybe you can relax a little about putting your own trust in them.
The company’s PDF Editor provides a whole bunch of handy features and may be Foxit’s best answer to Adobe Acrobat. Whether you are looking to add some headers, footers, or watermarks, this program has you covered. Things like creating templates, tailoring password permissions, and converting non-PDF documents to PDF are also well within its wheelhouse. Foxit excels at the latter even being able to convert Excel files of PowerPoint to PDF with a simple drag of the file.
Foxit PDF Editor: Is It a Good Value?
There’s a good possibility that Foxit PDF Editor may not be a great value for casual users, but neither is Adobe, to be fair. Foxit’s main demo seems to be individuals or businesses who constantly need to alter, edit, annotate, redact, and otherwise manipulate, a good number of PDF documents.
Foxit PDF Editor has flexible pricing, offering either monthly or yearly subscriptions. If regular payments are a turn-off (maybe why you’re looking for Adobe alternatives), Foxit can hook you up with a perpetual license for a heftier price tag, but we recommend trying any program first before going all-in. If you do try and end up loving Foxit, you may want to consider upgrading to either Pro or Pro Plus — which, of course, provides some features that power users may find useful.
EaseUS PDF Editor
EaseUS PDF Editor is unique when compared to the other alternatives on this list because it offers a free, but limited, version as well as a Pro version that’s stacked with features. This editor could be a great Adobe alternative if you’re a PC user, as it’s only available for Windows. The free version is great for testing the product out or for inner-office documents. However, you may want to consider upgrading to Pro for any documents you are going to share with clients because the free version unfortunately adds a watermark to your documents.
EaseUS has a lot of features that make it an ideal choice for PDF editing. Users can change content through various methods such as altering color, the font, and the text itself. The coolest feature of all might be the ability to split pages into separate boxes, which can then be moved, manipulated, and resized.
Speaking of cool, the interface is slick, clean, and impressive to look at. More importantly, this one makes it very intuitive for new users and makes navigating the various features a snap. Much like its competitor, Adobe Acrobat, EaseUS PDF Editor has a heavy focus on maximizing productivity.
EaseUS PDF Editor: Is It a Good Value?
Similar to some of the others on this list, the costs for the EaseUS PDF Editor pro version will vary depending upon whether you choose a monthly, or annual subscription, or opt-in to the “lifetime” upgrade option. It should be noted that this option is limited to one license for one computer. So if you have a large team, take this into consideration.
Adobe Acrobat may be the standard PDF software, but that doesn’t mean you are obligated to get it. For those who may not need all of its features or for those who are on a tight budget, Adobe may be an impractical choice. If your needs are basic, there are plenty of affordable alternatives that may be a better fit for your particular situation. Some of these tools have drawbacks in terms of limited functionality, but if you prioritize your needs and do a little research, you can easily find one that will work for you. Being honest about your needs is sometimes the only way to find an Adobe Acrobat alternative that works for you.
Alternatives to Adobe Acrobat
|Nitro PDF Pro||– Purchase outright (no subscription)|
– Tools similar to Adobe
– Annotate PDFs with ease
|– Doesn’t work well with external PDFs|
– Editing external PDFs difficult
|PDF24 Creator||– Free version available|
– E-sign feature
– Well-organized interface
| – Windows OS only|
– Layout lacks style
– Workflow not as seamless as Adobe
|Foxit PDF Editor||– High-profile clients use this program|
– Loaded with features
– Perpetual license available
|– Not the best value for casual users|
|EaseUS PDF Editor||– Free and Pro versions are available|
– Clean interface
– Lifetime subscription available
|– Windows OS only|
– Free version adds a watermark