PDF is the de facto standard for electronic document sharing or distribution. There are many PDF utilities to choose from when you want to create, edit, and view PDF documents, but here's a look at five of the best tools for working with PDFs.
Four of the most popular picks are good old standards, having been on our previous list of the five best PDF readers. Those four, plus Nitro PDF, are highlighted below.
Foxit (Windows/Linux, Reader: Free, Pro: $US129)
Preview (Mac, Reader: Free)
Preview is the built-in PDF viewer on Mac. In addition to quickly opening PDF files, Preview on Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) allows you to annotate PDFs (highlight sections, add notes or links), rearrange PDF pages, merge PDFs, and add keywords to your file for easy searching from Finder. Preview is also a pretty decent image viewer with some editing capabilities.
PDF-XChange (Windows, Reader: Free, Pro: $US34.50)
Voted the best PDF reader in a previous Hive Five, PDF-XChange is a lightweight, fast PDF reader with a long feature list, including page markup, exporting the document or pages to images, text extraction, support for 256 bit AES encryption, customizable interface, and more. The Pro version includes more page manipulation capabilities, PDF conversion and creation tools.
Adobe Acrobat (Windows/Mac, Reader: Free, Pro: $299)
Acrobat Reader is Adobe's free PDF viewing tool that's most commonly integrated into people's browsers. It offers commenting tools, integration with Acrobat.com online services, and a protected mode to safeguard your computer from malicious PDFs. Although it's not as speedy as the other PDF viewers, Reader has the broadest access to all types of content embedded in PDF files. For creating, editing, and more advanced features, you'll need to upgrade to either the Standard or Pro version or get the Suite — something probably more appropriate for businesses, given the pricing.
Nitro PDF (Windows, Reader: Free, Pro: $US99)
Nitro Reader is a free PDF viewer that's technically in beta but offers advanced features like PDF creation, converting to text, typing text anywhere on a page, form saving, and previewing of PDF files in Outlook or Windows Explorer. Upgrade to the Nitro PDF Express version ($US49.99) for PDF creation and page manipulation capabilities — including unique batch-processing functionality — or Nitro PDF Professional, "the original Acrobat alternative" for just about everything else you need to do with PDFs.
Got a favourite feature that makes your PDF tool of choice stand out? Let us know in the comments.