Open Source PDF Editors: Top 6

Are you in search of a free PDF editor? Look no further. We've done the research and compiled a comprehensive list of the 6 best open-source PDF editors on the market. All of them can be used as a free alternative to Adobe Acrobat and other expensive programs.

In this article, we will discover the advantages, disadvantages, and unique features of each editor to help you make an informed choice for your needs.

With these free PDF editing software, you can make quick edits to documents without spending a dime. Whether you need to sign documents, remove pages, add annotations, or redact sensitive information, these tools get you covered.

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How we picked open-source PDF editors

Choosing the best free PDF editor involves a careful evaluation of various factors to ensure that the selected program meets user needs. Here are the key criteria we considered:

  • Platform compatibility. The program should be available on multiple platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.
  • Ease of use. A well-designed and intuitive interface makes the software accessible to users with varying levels of technical expertise.
  • Editing capabilities. A comprehensive set of tools is essential, including the ability to add, delete, and modify text, images, and other elements.

Why choose an open-source PDF editor?

A PDF editor is software that can view, create, modify, and manipulate PDF files. Open-source means that the software's source code is freely available for users to view, modify, and distribute.

Advantages of using such PDF editors:

  • Download, install, and use the software without incurring any licensing costs.
  • Customize and tailor the program to meet your specific requirements.
  • Inspect and verify the security of the PDF editing software.
  • Available for multiple operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.
  • Contribute to the improvement of the application by suggesting features or even actively participating in its development.

1. LibreOffice

LibreOffice is an open-source package containing a word processor, spreadsheet software, presentation tool, and other programs. It is a great alternative to expensive proprietary software such as Microsoft Office.

The package comes with a Drawing tool that can be used to edit PDF documents. You can make changes to your documents without any additional software.

Add text, images, signatures, and more to your PDFs. This free PDF editing software also allows you to edit the layout of the document, change the font size and color of text, add or remove PDF pages, and much more.

LibreOffice

The program can export the files in different formats including HTML and PDF/A which is the standard for archiving documents.

All changes are saved automatically meaning you don't have to worry about losing any work. The software also offers cloud storage options so you can access your documents from anywhere.

With its extensive capabilities and storage possibilities, it's not hard to understand why LibreOffice is one of the most widely used open-source programs available today.

Pros:

Cons:

  • You have to download the whole suite;
  • The installation file is much larger than the other options mentioned in this article.

Overall, LibreOffice is a great choice if you are in search of an open-source office suite that includes a powerful PDF editor. It's free to download and use on any computer running Windows, macOS, or Linux.

2. Inkscape

Inkscape is an open-source program for designing vector images used by millions of graphic designers, illustrators, and hobbyists. The program is designed to be intuitive and easy to use, while also providing robust features that make it suitable for professional work.

Its real power lies in its ability to export artwork as a PDF document. This feature makes it ideal for creating documents such as brochures, flyers, presentations, magazines, book covers, manuals, and more.

Inkscape

When you import your document, the PDF editing software treats each page as an individual layer. You can edit various elements such as shapes, and images within each layer.

However, if you choose the Poppler/Cairo import option, the program will convert text elements to vector paths. While this allows changing pictures and other elements, it means you can't edit existing PDF text.

This problem can be fixed by choosing the Internal import option, but the editing is still limited.

It is possible to change the font color or highlight text but if you try to remove text, you will end up with a blank space between words. You will have to delete the entire paragraph and add a new text block if you want to edit some information.

Pros:

  • Create vector graphics within PDF files;
  • Edit images, shapes, and other objects;
  • Replace uninstalled fonts with the closest ones.

Cons:

  • Loss of formatting in complex PDFs;
  • Inconvenient text editing process;
  • Limited support of advanced PDF features like form filling.

Overall, Inkscape is an extremely powerful yet simple vector graphics editor suitable for both professionals and regular users. It's great for creating illustrations or logos as well as editing existing PDF documents. If you're looking for a no-cost PDF editor this option is worth trying!

3. OpenOffice

OpenOffice Draw is an open-source drawing program for creating diagrams and illustrations. It is a part of the OpenOffice suite and works with other programs such as Writer, Calc, Math, Base, and Impress.

Draw is a powerful vector-based drawing program that can be used to create diagrams, charts, logos, technical drawings, and more. It doesn't have a built-in PDF editor so you have to download an extension called PDF Import.

OpenOffice Draw

After you've installed the extension, you can modify the text, add, remove, or extract images, and alter the layout of your PDF document without having to convert it to another format beforehand.

The interface is intuitive and straightforward. You can insert text with the Text Tool or use the Fill Tool to add color or texture to shapes or lines in your drawings. There are also lots of features for manipulating objects in your PDFs such as resizing, rotating, skewing, and more.

Pros:

  • Text and object editing;
  • Basic annotation features.

Cons:

  • No built-in PDF support;
  • Loss of formatting.

OpenOffice Draw is a perfect option for those in need of a PDF editor at no cost. However, we wouldn't recommend it for text editing as its text recognition features aren't great.

4. PDFsam

PDFsam Basic is an open-source PDF editor for Windows, Mac, and Linux systems. It provides a set of tools for splitting, merging, and rotating PDF documents, offering a simple and intuitive interface for users to manipulate their files.

In no time at all you can easily divide PDF pages into separate files or combine multiple documents into one. Plus, you can rearrange pages within a PDF quickly and easily.

PDFsam

The software provides a range of advanced features such as the ability to split documents by bookmarks or size. It also supports batch processing. For example, it can insert the pages from one document into other files, repeating it after a certain number of pages.

When it comes to security, this free PDF editing software protects your files with 256-bit AES encryption.

The main downside is that editing text and other elements within the PDF document is only available with PDFSam Enhanced, which is a premium version of this program.

The premium features include additional security settings, such as password protection and digital signing to help secure your files. It also offers tools for working with PDF forms.

Pros:

  • Splitting and merging tools;
  • Command-line interface;
  • Batch processing;
  • PDF conversion.

Cons:

  • Limited editing features in the free version.

Overall, PDFsam is a powerful and easy-to-use free PDF editor that enables users to manage their documents more efficiently. Combined with its advanced features and security options, it's an ideal tool for any user who needs to work with PDFs on a regular basis.

5. PDFedit

PDFedit is a liberated PDF editor for Windows and Linux systems. Being free and lightweight, this program is the perfect choice for those needing to make alterations to their PDFs.

The PDF editing software includes a set of command-line tools and a library for manipulating PDF documents.

The application has features like editing PDF text, images, annotations, bookmarks, page setup options, watermarking, signing documents with a digital signature, and more.

PDFedit

Users can add annotations like notes or comments and insert new pages into the PDF or delete existing ones.

PDFedit also allows users to export edited PDFs as JPEG images or other formats. This is useful if you need to share your files with someone who doesn't have a PDF reader installed on their computer.

Pros:

  • Quick installation;
  • Page manipulation tools;
  • CLI to perform operations via scripts.

Cons:

  • Outdated interface.

Overall, PDFedit is a great open-source tool for anyone who needs a quick way to edit a PDF for free. However, we can't recommend it for users with limited technical skills as the installation process and interface might be confusing.

6. PDF4QT

PDF4QT is a lightweight and efficient C++ library that provides developers with a practical command line and a range of tools for working with PDF files.

Regular users have access to four applications: Viewer Profi, Viewer Lite, DocPage Organizer, and DocDiff. The one you need for editing PDF documents is Viewer Profi.

PDF4QT

The free PDF editor excels in rendering PDF documents, ensuring that the content is accurate to the original layout.

After you've opened the PDF you want to modify you can select one of the available options from the Edit drop-down menu. Here you can select phrases you want to highlight or underline, copy text, and search for a word in a PDF.

The PDF editing software allows to add comments, providing users with interactive and collaborative document experiences.

Pros:

  • Qt Integration;
  • PDF annotation support;
  • Data extraction tools;
  • Is actively maintained and receives updates.

Cons:

  • You can't edit PDF text.

FAQ

Can I edit the text in a PDF using open-source editors?
Yes, many free PDF editors support text editing. You can add, delete, or modify text content within the documents.
Are open-source PDF editors secure to use?
Regularly updated and supported by an active community software is secure. Always download from official sources and keep your software updated.
Can I customize the interface of open-source PDF editors?
Depending on the editor, customization options may be available for interface elements, toolbars, and shortcuts.
How do I report bugs or request features?
Most open-source projects have community forums or bug trackers where users can report issues, suggest features, or seek assistance.
Is there customer support for open-source PDF editors?
Such software typically relies on community support, forums, and documentation. Some projects may offer premium support for commercial versions.
Can I use open-source PDF editors for professional or business purposes?
Yes, many programs are suitable for professional use. Consider the specific features and licensing terms of each tool on their official website.
How can I stay informed about updates in free PDF editors?
You can subscribe to mailing lists, follow project blogs, or join community forums to stay updated on new releases, features, and announcements.

Tips

  1. Choose the right tool. Explore different open-source PDF editors to find one that aligns with your needs.
  2. Check for updates. Regularly check for updates to ensure you have the latest features, bug fixes, and security patches. Many open-source projects have active communities that contribute to ongoing development.
  3. Review documentation. Familiarize yourself with the documentation provided by the project. Understanding the features and capabilities of the PDF editing software will help you use it more effectively.
  4. Explore keyboard shortcuts. Learn and use keyboard shortcuts to speed up your workflow. Most free PDF editors provide shortcuts for common tasks, improving efficiency.
  5. Collaborate with the community. Join forums, discussion groups, or communities associated with the PDF editor you're using. Engaging with the community can provide valuable insights, troubleshooting help, and tips for advanced usage.
  6. Back up your work. Regularly back up the PDF documents, especially before making extensive edits. This ensures you have a copy of your work in case of unexpected issues.
  7. Consider security measures. If you're handling sensitive information, remember the security measures. Ensure that the open-source PDF editor allows you to add a password to your document.
  8. Report bugs. If you encounter bugs or issues, report them to the open-source community. Providing constructive feedback helps improve the software for everyone.

Best open-source PDF editor - Conclusion

By using open-source software, you can save money and get access to powerful tools without spending a fortune. Today we highlighted some of the best free PDF editing software.

Each editor offers different features and tools that can help you edit PDFs with ease. No matter which editor you choose, make sure it meets your requirements and provides all the features you need.

Paul Skidmore

Tech Writer and Photography Aficionado

Paul is a self-professed photography and tech nerd and has years of experience working with various editing software. He has a passion for travel and has taken his camera to destinations including Antarctica, Singapore, Indonesia, and Greenland.
7 min read
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