For convenience, we distinguish four types of programs: viewers (for reading and annotating), editors (for editing text and other content), managers (for splitting, compressing and other file manipulations) and converters (for converting PDF to other formats). Most of the applications listed in this article can be classified into several types at once.

Completely free programs

These applications are not the most functional, but all their features are available without restrictions.

1.PDF24 Creator

  • Type of: viewer, manager, converter.
  • Platforms: Windows, web.

This program offers a large list of tools for working with PDF documents. The service allows you to insert text, pictures and notes on pages, delete parts of a file, and perform many other operations.

What you can do in PDF24 Creator:

  • view PDF;
  • merge documents into one file;
  • recognize text in PDF;
  • compress files;
  • convert PDF to JPEG, PNG, BMP, PCX, TIFF, PSD, PCL and other formats;
  • set a password for files or disable it;
  • split documents into pages;
  • retrieve selected pages.

Try PDF24 Creator →


  • Type of: viewer, converter.
  • Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux.

Although the popular LibreOffice software package is designed to work with Word formats, its Draw application can edit PDF documents. And the Writer program from the same package can be used as a converter.

What you can do in LibreOffice:

  • view PDF documents;
  • convert DOC and other Word formats to PDF;
  • edit text;
  • draw on the document.

Try LibreOffice →

3. Slim PDF

  • Type of: viewer.
  • Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux.

Fast and convenient PDF reader with different viewing modes. Ideal for users who want a simple document reader without too many extras. Takes up minimal disk space and loads files quickly.

What can be done in Slim PDF:

  • view, highlight and comment on text;
  • search for words and phrases;
  • add bookmarks in the text.

Try Slim PDF →

Shareware apps

These programs offer more functionality for working with PDF, but with some limitations. You can use stripped-down free versions or subscribe with the full set of tools.

1. Sejda PDF

  • Type of: viewer, editor, converter, manager.
  • Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux.

A very intuitive and user-friendly program. When you launch Sejda PDF, you will immediately see all the tools grouped by category. Select the one you need, drag the necessary file into the program window and start manipulations. Most of the PDF actions in this application can be completed in a few seconds, even if you are using it for the first time.

What you can do in Sejda PDF:

  • edit PDF;
  • combine and separate documents by pages;
  • compress file size;
  • convert PDF to JPG and Word (and vice versa);
  • protect documents with a password and disable it;
  • add watermarks;
  • discolor documents;
  • crop page area;
  • sign documents.

The free version allows you to perform no more than three operations per day.

Try Sejda PDF →


  • Type of: viewer, manager, converter, editor.
  • Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux.

PDFsam cannot boast of a polished to perfection and user-friendly interface. But the program has several useful managerial functions available to everyone without payment and any restrictions.

What you can do in PDFsam:

  • merge PDF;
  • split PDF by pages, bookmarks (in places with the specified words) and size into separate documents;
  • rotate pages (if some of them were scanned upside down);
  • extract pages with specified numbers;
  • convert PDF to Excel, Word and PowerPoint formats (paid);
  • edit text and other content of files (for a fee).

Try PDFsam →

3.PDF‑XChange Editor

  • Type of: viewer, manager, converter, editor.
  • Platforms: Windows.

A very functional program with a classic interface in the style of Microsoft office applications. PDF‑XChange Editor is not very beginner friendly. To master all the possibilities, you need to spend some time. Fortunately, all internal descriptions and tips are translated into Russian.

What you can do in PDF‑XChange Editor:

  • edit and highlight text;
  • add annotations;
  • recognize text using OCR;
  • edit non-text content (paid);
  • encrypt documents (for a fee);
  • convert PDF to Word, Excel and PowerPoint formats and vice versa (for a fee);
  • compress files (paid);
  • sort pages in any order (paid).

Try PDF‑XChange Editor →

4.Adobe Acrobat Reader

  • Type of: viewer, manager, converter, editor.
  • Platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS.

Popular universal program for working with PDF from Adobe. The free version is a very convenient cross-platform document viewer, the rest of the features are available by subscription.

What you can do in Adobe Acrobat Reader:

  • highlight and comment on text, search for words and phrases;
  • edit text and other content (for a fee);
  • merge documents into one file (for a fee);
  • compress files (paid);
  • convert PDF to Word, Excel and PowerPoint formats (paid);
  • convert JPG, JPEG, TIF and BMP images to PDF (for a fee).

All these features and more are available in desktop versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Mobile versions only allow you to view and annotate documents, and (after subscribing) convert them to different formats.

Try Adobe Acrobat Reader →

This article was first published in May 2018. In September 2022, we updated the text.

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