The PDF file type has been around for almost as long as the World Wide Web.
We use PDFs all the time, so often that we take for granted that this file format was invented to solve a particular problem for us – the ability to view, share, and edit documents digitally.
But, there’s more to this handy file format that helps improve your digital workflow.
What Is A PDF?
PDF, or Portable Document Format, was invented by Adobe back in 1991. Initially, the project was called Camelot. Led by Adobe’s co-founder John Warnock, this new software was intended to solve the problems that crop up when viewing and printing various documents between different machines and operating systems.
Think about it: the whole point of the World Wide Web is to be able to share information quickly anywhere in the world, but oftentimes documents sent from one machine to another would end up as gobbledygook on the other side.
Project Camelot came up with a new, single file format that would render documents perfectly across devices and allow users to print the files as they were intended to look and providing a seamless experience.
A PDF is essentially a visual, pixel-based document. Think of each page as made up of tiny building blocks that would always go in the same place no matter where they were viewed or printed.
Today, PDFs are ubiquitous and make it much easier to share large documents online and store them offline. PDF documents have realized the vision of creating completely digital books, forms, and contracts – the essential documents that make our world go round.
PDF Readers And How To Choose One
So, we know PDFs are amazing tools for sharing information, such as documents and other visual files where detail and accuracy are extremely important. But, you need a PDF renderer to handle this file format on your computer and printer.
In 2007, Adobe gave PDF over to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and today there are even possibilities for viewing 3D files using PDF.
Whereas Adobe Acrobat was for a long time the only PDF reader software that allowed you to read and edit these digital files, a wide variety of platforms for PDF have been developed since then. This means that Adobe products like Adobe Reader DC are no longer your only option.
Seeing as the PDF file type is now an industry standard for document sharing, it only makes sense that there are as many PDF reader applications as there are machines and document types.
Foxit PDF Reader is one of the software that emerged as Adobe Acrobat alternatives. Foxit offers two solutions for handling PDFs: Foxit PDF Reader for reading, sharing, and signing PDF forms and Foxit PDF Editor, which also enables you to create interactive PDF forms, collaborate with others, and export to other file formats.
Besides these powerful tools, most PDF readers and editors also offer advanced features that enable you to add your electronic signature to digital documents, make annotations, fill out dynamic forms, and view on mobile.
Foxit PDF, previously known as Foxit Phantom PDF, can be purchased online for around $125 per year for the premium PDF Editor Pro license. You can also make a one-time purchase of PDF Editor ($135) or PDF Editor Pro ($150).
Make sure to take advantage of their free trial to try before you buy; however, you might also want to consider a Foxit alternative.
Foxit Alternative: PDF Reader VS PDF Editor
The main difference between PDF readers and PDF editors is that PDF readers are usually the freemium versions of an editor product, designed to do the basics: view and share documents and fill out and sign forms digitally.
PDF editors, on the other hand, are often enterprise products that enable businesses to create accessible PDF files with rich content, such as a variety of form fields to be filled out by a client or service provider.
What’s more, PDF software offer developer tools for creating PDF plugins and enabling the online handling of these documents (as opposed to downloading a PDF and viewing it on locally hosted software).
Another great feature PDF software offer is file encryption to ensure sensitive information is only viewed by the person intended.
There are many more features that you can find in PDF readers and editors, which we’ll describe in the list below.
First of all, you need to know whether it’s a reader or editing software that you need. So, let’s consider some points in making your decision and then deep-dive into 25 popular PDF software for you to check out.
Choosing A PDF Reader Or Editor
- Consider the many freemium PDF reader options out there, as well as paid versions, especially if you’re looking for an affordable PDF editing tool.
- If you opt for a paid version, decide whether you want to pay on a subscription basis or purchase the software once-off?
- Think about what features you need: are you only viewing documents, or do you need to edit them as well? Do you need to sign documents digitally, or are you using PDFs for creative file handling? Do you need to encrypt your files to keep sensitive information safe? Are you looking for form-building tools? Answering these questions will help you find your best-fit solution.
- Once you know what features you need, check if the PDF reader in question is compatible with your computer and operating system.
- You should also consider whether you’ll need to view or edit documents on your phone and check PDF reader compatibility for mobile.
Check out our list below for 25 Foxit alternatives that will provide a top-notch PDF experience.
1. PDF Reader
One of the earliest PDF reader alternatives on the market, our PDF Reader product offers a comprehensive toolset for managing digital documents.
PDF Reader is an all-in-one PDF solution that offers a user-friendly interface with options for smooth scrolling and presentation mode, as well as night mode and sepia background color options for a more effortless reading experience.
It also has document editing features, including typing and adjusting font and size on PDFs. You can easily make annotations that other PDF tools can read. You can also make use of a library of ready-made digital stamps to indicate when invoices are overdue or have been paid (anything that a traditional stamp would be used for).
PDF Reader Pro enables you to fill and e-sign both interactive forms and non-fillable forms, giving you multiple e-signature options: handwriting, using a digital signature, or simply typing your name.
The added security features include watermarks, password access, and secure download links. You can add and remove PDF password encryption as needed.
Digital document storage helps you go paper-free, as there’s no need to print forms anymore.
You can use PDF Reader to convert another document format into a PDF file and vice versa, including Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Text, HTML, RTF, ePUB or MOBI format, and image files.
Reliable PDF compression options to optimize file size without compromising document quality means that you’ll always be able to share your documents. Easily import and combine multiple PDFs or split a single PDF into multiple files.
Make use of our drag-and-drop page editor to add, remove, and rearrange pages or to rotate certain pages if needed.
PDF Reader is compatible with Mac, iPhone, Windows, and Android, so you can view, annotate and edit PDFs anywhere and on time.
Once you’re ready for our premium features, you can opt for a one-time purchase (available for Mac and Windows versions) or start a monthly subscription plan for Document 365 to unlock all premium features on all platforms if you work with multiple devices.
Designed for the increasingly mobile workplaceGet PDF Reader
2. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC
As mentioned, Adobe Acrobat is the original PDF software. Later on, Adobe Acrobat Reader was launched as a freemium version that would do the basics.
Adobe Acrobat XI was the last update to this software before being replaced by Adobe Acrobat DC, the cloud-based and subscription-based version that forms part of the Adobe Document Cloud.
Adobe Acrobat’s functionality lets you create annotations such as comments, highlights, underline or strikethrough formatting, digital stamps, measurements (very handy for technical drawings or describing three-dimensional properties), and redaction for legal purposes.
You can edit text, replace images, create fillable form fields or sign forms using an e-signature. It’s simple to create and save your own e-signature in Adobe Acrobat for later use.
Other advanced editing features include converting PDFs into other file types and vice versa, compressing file size, as well as organizing page order and rotation.
3. Apple Preview For Mac
This native Apple PDF software comes standard with any Mac product you purchase. It’s automatically set as the default app for viewing images and PDF files.
Apple’s PDF reader includes all the tools you need to read, make notes and highlights, change the order of pages, make bookmarks, search the text, and fill out forms.
Preview excels at offering many more image editing tools than other PDF tools, so you can use Preview to open and edit image files, too.
4. ABBYY FineReader PDF
ABBYY FineReader is an enterprise content management tool with all the features you’d expect from PDF software, plus AI tools that assist with turning scanned paper documents into digital files.
FineReader can handle text and image objects in such a way that it feels like you’re editing a Word document – you can even edit the text in tables and change the page layout.
Further, you have version control so you can track the changes you’ve made on your PDF and return to prior versions if needed, as well as get tips on improving your document’s readability.
This is a good option if you’re looking for a robust alternative PDF reader to Foxit, this is a good option. However, ABBYY FineReader PDF is more expensive than Foxit at $165 per year for their Corporate license.
FineReader PDF’s Mac version also offers a highly limited set of features that pale in comparison to other PDF tools for Mac.
5. PDF-XChange Editor
In comparing Foxit Reader & PDF-XChange, you’ll see that PDF-XChange Editor boasts an incredible product offering. This software offers advanced PDF editing capability, with 70% of its features available in the free version.
Besides a PDF management solution, PDF-XChange Editor lets you add rich media to annotations in the form of audio or video, gives you more control over formatting with a color picker and opacity settings, and enables you to add dynamic stamps that can display the current date.
Some essential features, such as including clickable external URL links and table of contents links, are only available in their PDF-XChange PRO plan (starting at $121 per year for a single user).
PDF-XChange Editor’s Single User license is affordable at $56 per year. However, if you’re looking for enterprise software for a company larger than 500 users, you’ll be paying between $4,834 – $35,299 per year.
6. Skim For Mac
Skim is a free and open-source project hosted on Sourceforge, which also means it’s under continuous, anonymous development.
This PDF reader and annotation tool was made with academics in mind who constantly need to make notes when reading but also need to be able to find those notes later quickly.
Skim lets you view PDFs, add and edit notes and shapes, highlight text with one-swipe gestures, and see a thumbnail history of the pages you’ve read so you can always go back. You can also display your PDF in presentation mode and choose transition styles.
It offers a single view of all your highlights and notes for easy reference, which you can print out as text. Skim is highly customizable for the developer types yet is otherwise a very limited PDF reader in terms of e-signing documents, creating interactive forms, and exporting to other document formats.
7. PDF Studio
PDF Studio Viewer is free and is similar to the Adobe PDF Reader. It lets you view and sign documents, make annotations, print, and integrate with storage platforms and DocuSign.
For about $63, you can make a one-time purchase of a single copy of the premium software PDF Studio Editor. The price per license lowers the higher the number of seats you’d like to purchase, but to find out how much you’d pay to use PDF Studio as enterprise software, you’ll need to request a quote.
PDF Studio Editor offers all the PDF features you’d need to create and manage digital documents, create forms, and e-sign, with the addition of task automation and batch processing features.
PDF Studio works for Mac, Windows, and Linux, but there aren’t any mobile apps.
8. PDF X For Windows
PDF X is a free PDF reader and editor available on the Microsoft App store. It supports an impressive range of formats, including PDF, PS, Tiff, CHM, DjVu, Images, DVI, XPS, ODT, Fiction Book, Comic Book, Plucker, EPub, and Fax.
You can use this freemium PDF software to view PDF files with thumbnails, reorder pages, highlight or strike out text, make annotations with hyperlinks, and add free-hand drawings.
E-signatures, watermarks, and stamps are other tools available, along with the capability to fill out forms and merge or split PDF files.
This PDF reader and editor is only available on Windows Desktop, which is an obvious drawback for Mac users or if you want to edit PDFs on mobile.
The premium license costs about $20 per year.
9. Able2Extract Professional
Able2Extract offers a range of free tools if you want to perform specific tasks on an ad hoc basis without having to buy new software. One of these free tools is Slim PDF Reader 2, which is Able2Extract Pro’s equivalent of Adobe Reader.
Slim PDF Reader 2 is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. Slim PDF claims to be the smallest PDF application at just 15Mb, which means it takes very little space on your computer and is lightning fast.
It offers a simplified interface with built-in dark theme for night-time reading, advanced and customizable annotation tools, and interactive form filling.
Able2Extract PRO lets you create PDF files from scratch, scale and resize pages, merge or split documents, and add images and vector shapes. You can add rich form fields such as checkboxes, radio buttons, and push buttons. You can also make annotations and sticky notes and attach other files to your PDF.
The pricing plan is a one-time payment option per license, which is about $150. This PDF reader is not geared toward enterprise-level usage.
10. Nitro PDF Pro
Nitro PDF Pro is used by 68% of Fortune 500 companies and is best suited for individuals and small businesses.
You can use Nitro Pro to create PDFs, convert them into other Microsoft Office file types, and merge multiple documents of different file types – even emails – into one PDF. These PDFs are fully searchable and shareable to make it easier to put important information in one place.
You can annotate and fill in forms, and their intuitive interface with advanced editing capabilities allows you to freely format and move text on PDFs.
It offers a comprehensive iOS mobile app for viewing, creating, and editing PDFs on the go, and it’s also available for Windows and Mac desktops. There’s no Android app, though.
Nitro PDF Pro is about $180 per user (once off) for 1 – 20 seats.
You can also opt for the Nitro Productivity Platform, which includes Nitro PDF Pro together with Nitro Sign Essentials. Nitro Sign is their e-signing solution that enables you to add digital signatures to documents securely.
Nitro Productivity Platform pricing is available upon quotation.
11. SwifDoo PDF
SwifDoo is even smaller than Slim PDF at just 10Mb. This is another freemium PDF software that you can download for free and choose to upgrade at a later date.
Correct typos, copy-paste new text, crop images, and add links to PDFs, even if you scanned them in from paper documents. SwifDoo, like many of the other tools we’ve looked at, has a built-in OCR (Optical Character Recognition) feature which turns scanned documents into editable PDFs.
You can use SwifDoo to convert PDFs into Word docs, Powerpoint presentations, Excel sheets, image files, HTML, and even CAD files. You can also export PDFs into Word, Excel, CAD, and image files.
Compressing PDF file size and merging multiple documents together is also possible with SwifDoo, as is encrypting sensitive documents and securely e-signing them.
You can make annotations such as highlights, notes, stamps, free-hand drawings, and shapes and collaborate with others by leaving replies or using easy Accept/Deny actions.
Their pricing plans are based on per-seat (up to 2 devices) at $20 per month or $69 per year. You can also opt for a once-off payment of $159 for one license.
12. PDF Suite
PDF Suite consists of three main products: PDF Suite Standard, PDF Suite Pro, and PDF Suite Pro + OCR. You can download a free trial version to test it out before you commit to a software license.
This PDF reader and editor allows you to read and markup PDFs with collaborative annotations, stamps, and stickers. Creating PDFs and converting them into other file types are other standard features that it offers, and it gives you control over the graphical elements in your document.
You can also create dynamic forms with interactive fields, including lists, radio buttons, checkboxes, drop-down menu options, and adjustable tabs. Filling out forms is also possible with PDF Suite, but there’s no electronic signature tool included.
PDF Suite Pro + OCR costs about $130 once-off for one license.
SmallPDF has all the standard PDF features you’d expect from a reader and editor software.
You can compress file size, split and merge files, and edit and sign forms. It offers a limited set of conversion tools that enable you to turn PDFs into Word, Excel, Powerpoint, or JPG image files, and vice versa.
Small PDF has a handy scanner app that lets you take snapshots of documents on your phone and then turn them into PDF files that you can work on digitally.
This PDF software is available on web, desktop, and mobile apps. For teams of up to 14 users, it will cost $84 per year. For larger teams (15+), a quote needs to be requested.
14. RAD PDF
RAD PDF is an enterprise PDF reader and editor software completely based on HTML and integrated directly with ASP.NET. This software works in any browser without downloads or plugins and is also a good solution for client-side developers to create custom PDF software.
Besides all the expected form-filling tools that RAD PDF offers, it supports field calculations and custom formatting. You can also localize text based on the receiver’s location.
PDF permissions are customizable, and you can control how many times a document may be printed or whether it can be downloaded, ensuring that sensitive information remains secure.
You can add signatures from a server repository but can’t create your own digital signature using the software.
There are two once-off licenses for RAD PDF: Developer and Server. The Developer license costs about $300 per machine, and the Server license costs about $3,000 per server. If you’d prefer to pay on a subscription basis, you can contact Red Software directly on their pricing page.
15. Nebula Office PDF Suite Pro For Windows
Nebula Office PDF Suite Pro is available on the Microsoft Apps Store and offers an impressive range of features in its freemium version.
Not only can you view PDFs with this software, but you can also view a range of image file types such as PNG, JPG, BMP, ICO, GIF, and TIFF. You can also view other document file types, namely Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, EPUB, and MOBI.
Creating PDFs, adding annotations, and e-signing documents are possible with the free version. However, if you need page order and layout capabilities or file conversion tools, you’ll need to upgrade to the full version.
A major drawback is that the Nebula Office PDF Suite application is quite large at 433Mb so it will take up a lot of space on your Windows computer.
Pricing information is unclear and can only be accessed in-app.
16. PDFelement Pro
PDFelement Pro lets you create and edit PDFs as if they’re Word documents. You can easily create and edit PDFs with watermarks, notes, headers and footers, text, and images, as well as hyperlinks. You can even set a background for your pages.
With PDFelement Pro, you can sign documents digitally, create a document password, and set up access permissions to ensure that only the relevant recipients see your document.
If you’d like to try PDFelement out before buying their premium version, you can download a free trial. Once you’re ready to purchase, you can take a subscription or make a once-off purchase. The annual license is $109 per year per team member.
PDFelements Pro offers bundle options that let you use the software on Windows, Mac, iOS, or cloud (web-based). The bundles start from $99 per year.
17. Soda PDF
Formerly DocuDesk, Soda PDF offers both online tools and offline PDF software to enable quicker and easier digital document management.
The previous product’s name was DeskPDF Studio X, which can still be found on some legacy software sites. But, the new Soda PDF offers a simple interface for merging or splitting PDFs, converting from or to the PDF file type, compressing file size, and offers a range of editing features.
When using the PDF editor online or offline, you can manage the page layout and order and add custom-formatted text anywhere. You can also add images.
For about $200 a year, you can purchase one of their premium Business software licenses. This amount is quite steep for an individual license, and there are no enterprise pricing options and no mobile apps.
Soda PDF is not an ideal enterprise document management solution, but their free online version is handy if you only need to edit a PDF every now and again.
18. PDF Professional Suite For Mac
PDF Professional Suite by Build to Connect is another great Foxit alternative for Mac. This PDF software has received plenty of positive reviews from real users who call it “the new Adobe Acrobat.”
From having the capability of viewing and editing PDFs on multiple platforms to file conversion and e-signing PDF features, PDF Professional Suite ticks all the boxes.
The only downside is that this PDF editor is for Mac and iOS only, so Windows and Android users will not be able to use it.
At about $30 for a single license, the pricing is affordable for small teams.
PDFfiller lets you create PDFs from templates with placeholders – all you need to do is upload your logo. It also offers multiple sharing options from within the platform to make it easier for you to send your documents via the relevant channels.
PDFfiller’s standout feature is the fact that you can connect a payment system and get paid directly from your PDF documents or embedded forms. This makes it ideal for getting paid online by customers.
You can also create document and process workflows using PDFfiller’s no-code solution. This way, you can generate forms and automatically move to the next steps in approvals or get reminders when you’re still waiting for signatures to be returned.
What’s more, PDFfiller can integrate with GSuite, CRMs, and a range of other cloud platforms that you already use for work.
On top of this, it also offers all the features you need to split, merge, convert, edit, and annotate your PDF files.
If you purchase their Premium license, it will cost about $180 per year.
20. Jotform PDF Editor
Jotform is a well-known form builder, but did you know you can create and edit PDFs with their free PDF Editor tool?
Jotform PDF Editor is a drag-and-drop platform for creating fillable PDF templates that are automatically populated with form data.
You can easily customize your PDFs with your company colors and logo, add backgrounds and images, and design the layout. If you’re not much of a designer, they have over 1,000 templates for you to choose from.
These PDFs are completely shareable, and you can integrate this tool into other work apps you use, such as Google Drive and Dropbox. This lets you create, annotate, and manage signed PDFs, all in sync with your cloud storage platform.
The disadvantage of using Jotform’s PDF Editor is that you would still need to download another PDF Reader to handle the PDF files you create.
21. Edge Browser
Most updated browsers have built-in tools to view PDFs online, including popular browsers like Firefox and Edge. The major benefit of using Edge is that it offers a host of editing tools for making annotations, highlighting text, and even adding your own text directly onto the document.
Moreover, Edge has added accessibility with its “Read Aloud” option for the sight-impaired, and you can use the Drawing tool to sign documents electronically.
22. Google Chrome Browser
If Google Chrome is set as your default browser, it’s good to know that it offers a simple built-in PDF reader to view, share, download, and print PDF documents online.
This PDF viewer is completely free, but there are no editing capabilities, nor does it allow you to save the file directly to your Google Drive. This means each time you view a PDF, and you’d like to keep it for later, you need to download it onto your computer and then upload it to Google Drive.
The other option is to save it as a bookmark in Google Chrome so you can return to it later.
23. PDF Extra
PDF Extra is an advanced PDF creation and editing tool that works almost like design software. It has a comprehensive toolbar that enables you to add and format text and images, as well as create fillable forms.
File compression and converting to Microsoft Word, Excel, or ePUB formats are also possible with this PDF editor software. You can extract pages from other PDFs, merge multiple files together, or simply scan a paper document and start editing.
PDF Extra offers many ways to annotate a PDF file and lets you choose colors, make shapes and text boxes, and add stamps as well as collaborative comments.
This is a freemium tool, but if you’d like to experience the full set of PDF features, you can upgrade to their Ultimate package at about $80 per year. You also have the option of a one-time purchase of PDF Extra 2021 for about $100.
Dropbox is a cloud file storage platform or Storage as a Service (STaaS), but since it’s so popular, you probably already knew that!
Not only does Dropbox provide freemium online file storage, but it also sports robust PDF capabilities.
When you open a PDF on Dropbox, you’re able to insert, delete, reorder or rotate pages, and you can also fill out forms with clickable, interactive form fields. There are only two prerequisites: to edit a PDF using Dropbox, the file shouldn’t be larger than 111Mb and mustn’t be password encrypted.
Dropbox also offers other document management tools, such as HelloSign for adding e-signatures and Paper for creating collaborative documents (an alternative for Google Docs or Microsoft Word).
25. Google Drive
If you have a Gmail account, you have a Google Drive. Google Drive is a completely free STaaS for personal users but can also be used by companies who sign up for Google Workspace.
Google Drive can handle PDFs, but only for viewing and sharing. You can download a PDF from Drive onto your computer and vice versa, or you can add a PDF that you received to your Drive cloud storage.
There are also some more advanced features, namely the ability to request approvals and to leave comments.
If you want image-editing or form-filling capabilities, you’d need to choose from the other plugin options in the Open With navigation menu.
Wrapping It Up
There are many choices you can make for a Foxit alternative, and we’ve highlighted 25 popular PDF readers and editors for you to consider to improve your digital workflow.
Let’s wrap it up with a selection of our favorite options from the wide range that’s available.
I Want To View PDFs
If you don’t need PDF creation tools and only want to be able to open, read, and leave annotations on PDFs, we recommend that you use freemium tools such as one of the browsers or cloud storage platforms that we looked at.
Kdan’s PDF Reader is great for a comfortable viewing experience with multiple layout options as well as the sepia background color setting for easy reading and annotation.
I Want To Edit Text And Images On PDFs
ABBYY FineReader PDF, PDF Suite, PDFelement Pro, and PDF Extra have great PDF editing dashboards and features to add and format text, images, and shapes and change the layout of PDFs.
ABBYY FineReader’s Mac version is very limited, though, so if you’re a Mac user, we wouldn’t recommend this one for you. PDF Suite doesn’t have an e-signature feature, and PDFelement Pro doesn’t have an Android version if you were hoping to open and edit PDFs on your phone. PDF Extra doesn’t offer a Mac desktop version but is available for Windows desktop, Android, and iOS.
PDF Reader‘s editing tools enable you to add and edit text and images, as well as add e-signatures. Our platform is available on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.
I Want To Create Fillable PDF Forms
When it comes to creating fillable, interactive forms, Adobe Acrobat Pro is still one of the best options. PDF Studio is also a great option, with the addition of creating workflow automations to ensure you fillable PDFs get signed on time.
Able2Extract Professional, PDF Suite, and PDFfiller offer advanced form fields such as radio buttons and drop-down menus. Besides these features, RAD PDF supports field calculations, custom formatting, and language localization.
I Want To Open And Convert Many File Types
PDF X and Nebula Office PDF Suite Pro can convert an impressive array of file types, but these applications only work for Windows OS. Nitro PDF Pro can also handle and convert many file types, even emails, but does not offer an Android app.
PDF Reader offers the most comprehensive list of formats for opening and converting file types from or to PDF, even on our mobile apps.
We hope this article helps you make an informed decision for your PDF needs, whether you’re an individual who needs to read files or looking for a tool for your company to create digital collaborative documents.
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