3 Best PDF Editors for Mac: Easily Edit, Convert, Sign and Protect PDF Files

If you’re looking for a solid and reliable Mac PDF editor, you’ll find that there are a surprising number of such software utilities and cloud-based products – as well as online services – available on the market. The problem is, while variety is certainly good from a competition standpoint, it makes decisions that much harder for consumers. Naturally, we have to take the good with the bad, but to make it easier for you to choose, we’ve covered the key features of what we feel are the 3 best PDF editors for Mac that are fully compatible with macOS 10.14 Mojave. One of them is actually a Windows utility, but because of its superb features and the fact that you can run it on a Mac if you dual-boot Windows 10, we’ve included it as a PDF editor Mac users can rely on.

All three companies behind these products are highly proactive, and they immediately release upgrades to their respective PDF editor for Mac when there’s a new OS version on the horizon. Some of them, like Wondershare and Adobe, are extremely proactive, and they start their product upgrades and beta tests when the new OS itself is in its final beta. So without further ado, let’s help you pick the best PDF editor for Mac by highlighting the key features of each product.

PDFelement 6 Pro for Mac from Wondershare

Version 6 of PDFelement is one of the best lightweight PDF editors for Mac we’ve seen that can rival Adobe’s popular product in many ways. Not only is it a lot cheaper, but the fact that you can do everything that you can do with Adobe Acrobat. And that’s just the Standard version. The Pro version that we’re covering here today goes a step further, offering professional features like OCR (Optical Character Recognition), PDF/A support, output formats like EPUB, GIF and HTML, additional annotation tools, alignment and line-spacing options, better page management capabilities, and even the ability to maintain the original layout no matter what format you’re converting it into.

The first thing we noticed about version 6 was the dramatic new UI (user interface) they’ve introduced. It’s stark and uncluttered, and you don’t get the feeling that new features have just been pushed into whatever space was available. One of the great new features is the ability to create a fillable PDF from any non-fillable form created on an Office app like Excel or Word. This form recognition feature is quite unique, in our experience. Some other applications do have this ability, but our experience with PDFelement 6 Pro was that the whole process seemed effortless and without any hiccups.

From a UX (user experience) point of view, PDFelement is much easier to handle and has a very gentle learning curve. Right off the bat, you’ll see all the things it can do because the developers have given the utility a very user-friendly layout. As an example, if you mouse-over one of the modules in the home page, you’ll see a brief description of what it can do. We found this to be potentially very useful for anyone who’s working with PDF editors for the first time. Here’s a screengrab of what it looks like:

From our experience with various Mac software utilities, we’ve found that little things like this can go a long way in enhancing user experience. Isn’t that one of the core requirements of any piece of software?

Looking at the utility from a functional perspective, we saw that the software responds very quickly even on a MacBook Pro that’s already struggling with resource allocation, like the one we tested it on. The best way to see the effect of this is to see how quickly an app can fetch a PDF file when you click on the Open File button. Of course, it depends on Mac’s Finder app to do that, but it was still a hair faster out of the gate than either of the other two applications we tested for this article. One side tip here is that it’s a good idea to restart the Finder app from time to time, especially if you’re working with a lot of local files across multiple applications.

The utilities within PDFelement were very easy to navigate through, and we didn’t find anything out of the ordinary there. The software does what it’s supposed to. The only thing we noticed was a little issue with how the document aligns itself within the interface when you select or deselect a block in a PDF document. It requires a little nudge on your mouse scroll wheel to get the document to re-center itself. It could be because the tool panel on the right appears and disappears when you select and deselect a block, respectively. We initially thought it had something to do with the magnification level, but we tried it at 100% as well as below and above that, and we noticed the same issue. Not a deal-breaker or anything, but definitely something for the developers to look into.

Overall, PDFelement gets an 8.5 out of 10, with points lost for minor issues and no major integration with other products or cloud. And you can have a try for free here or enjoy up to 40% off to buy it now. Even the trial version is great free PDF Mac computer owners will love.

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC for Mac

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Undoubtedly one of the best utilities for handling PDF files, Adobe Acrobat has a significant advantage over all other companies. That’s because they were the ones who created this format in the early 1990s. It was a proprietary format for more than a decade, until 2008, when it became an open standard. It sort of gave Adobe a head start on perfecting the software that handled this format. Even so, you can’t definitively say that it is the best PDF editor today. Rivals like Wondershare and Nitro have done a great job of creating comparable software that in some ways even trumps Adobe Acrobat.

Adobe Acrobat is a sort of standard on its own and, as such, there is a much larger user base for the product. It’s a great tool with very strong functionality and capability for manipulating PDF documents any way you want. However, the price point might be a deal-breaker for many light users, who are only looking for something to sign PDF documents and maybe do a little light editing. For that purpose, it’s a little overkill. The free equivalent – Adobe Acrobat Reader DC – isn’t of much use when it comes to editing, but it’s okay for viewing, signing, commenting and sharing.

From a compatibility standpoint Adobe has a clear advantage, as we saw, but other than that it has no real “line of differentiation” between itself and other products, many of which are far more affordable.

Adobe Acrobat gets a solid 9 out of 10 in our rankings, with points lost because of too many features for amateur users – and the obvious pricing element.

Nitro Pro 12

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Nitro is another well-known and powerful utility for PDFs but, unfortunately, there’s only a Windows version. However, if you’re willing to run Windows 10 on your Mac using a dual-boot utility like Boot Camp Assistant or Virtualbox, then Nitro Pro comes highly recommended.

That being said, if you’ve been using Mac all your life, you could find yourself facing usability and navigation issues when using the software in a Windows environment. If you don’t mind that little speedbump in the road, then you can definitely try Nitro on a Mac. We recommend using Virtualbox because of issues between Boot Camp Assistant and Windows 10.

The Nitro Pro version is a little cheaper than the Adobe equivalent, and they even throw in Nitro Cloud as a bonus tool. It’s just the basic version, but it’s great for collaboration between office employees and offers unlimited eSigning and real-time tracking if there are multiple signatories.

Nitro Pro comes with a host of advanced functions, and some of the new features on Nitro Pro 12 include compatibility with CAD (Computer-Aided Design) drawings, printer-specific features, cloud integration, and greater accuracy when converting a PDF into Excel or PowerPoint.

Again, as with Adobe Acrobat, the Nitro Productivity Suite is serious overkill for the average pro user, so if you’re a personal user – even a power-using pro – then we recommend going with the basic option for Pro. You’ll get all the great features that have made Nitro one of Adobe’s top rivals in this space, and you’ll get a taste of cloud collaboration if you’re working with a remote user.

Adobe Nitro Pro 12 gets a solid 9 out of 10, with points lost for too many features for most users.

The Final Verdict

Overall, PDFelement seems to be the best PDF editor for Mac for professional users at the small to medium-sized business level. It’s a lot cheaper than the other options, and it has a robust suite of features to handle all your PDF needs. It falls down a little on the collaboration front when compared to the others, but in terms of performance of the software itself, it stands on par with Adobe Acrobat and Nitro PDF.

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