Tech

PDFelement Professional review: A full-featured Acrobat Alternative

PDFelement ProImage: Michael Ansaldo/IDG

At a Glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

Streamlined, easy-to-use interfaceAdvanced business featuresCross-platform compatibility

Cons

Windows and Mac interfaces differ

Our Verdict

PDFelement Professional is a robust, uncomplicated alternative to Adobe Acrobat.

Price When Reviewed

$129 per year

Best Prices Today: PDFelement Pro

RetailerPriceWondershare$79.99View DealPrice comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwideProductPricePrice comparison from Backmarket

Update 03/01/22 to reflect the most recent features, plans, and pricing.

Wondershare’s PDFelement Pro is one of our favorite PDF editors, combining essential business features with a simple but sophisticated interface. The latest version isn’t a major overhaul, thankfully, introducing only a few UI tweaks for even better usability while keeping the features that made its predecessor so great.

This review is part of our best PDF editors roundup. Go there to learn about our testing and how all the competitors performed. 

A user-friendly UI

PDFelement Pro’s user interface puts all the program’s main functions on its Home screen in large clickable tiles. From here you can jump-start the process of editing, creating, converting, combining, or batch processing PDFs. The most recently accessed documents are listed on the bottom.

The top of the document interface features a Microsoft Office-style toolbar containing master functions such as commenting, editing, converting, security, and page management. Clicking on any of these drops down a second toolbar with all the options for that particular function. The toolbar also provides access to library of PDF templates. The goal with streamlined UI was clearly to get you where you want to go within a couple of clicks, and in that it succeeds.

Working with a PDF is much the same as it was in previous versions. Each document opens in its own tab. Another toolbar down the left side allows you to open thumbnails of all the document’s pages, add bookmarks, review comments, manage attached files, and search text within the PDF.

Michael Ansaldo/IDG

Editing, creating, and converting

Behind the pretty interface is a business-ready feature set. Document editing is the meat-and-potatoes for PDFelement Pro, and here it allows considerable flexibility. You can edit text in-line or within a text box, drop in and manipulate images, insert links, change the document background, create headers and footers, and add and remove watermarks. It also supports Bates numbering.

The program includes a full slate of annotation tools, including text highlighting, sticky notes, stamps, signatures, shapes, and freehand markup. Fonts, color, and other formatting can be customized for each of these. Sharing documents for review is easy, with options for sending to Evernote, Dropbox, OneNote, Box, Google Drive and Wondershare Cloud all available from the open document.

PDFelement Pro supports a comprehensive range of file formats, so there was little need to improve on them here. You can convert PDFs to Excel, Word, PowerPoint, EPUB, Pages, HTML, RTF, and text formats, and create them from images, HTML, and text file formats.

If it ain’t broke…

PDFelement Pro’s perhaps best move is leaving previous versions’ strengths alone. You can still easily create forms and extract their data directly to spreadsheets for analysis, averting the introduction of errors that can happen when inputting the information manually. You can secure documents with passwords and permissions, batch encryption, and digital signatures. And you can collaborate on documents without having to manage a convoluted chain of emails.

Michael Ansaldo/IDG

And Wondershare has thankfully kept it affordable, too. PDFelement Pro costs just $80 a year for individuals, or you can purchase it bundled with the iOS version for $100 a year. (Team and Education plans are also available with more information available on the website.)

Bottom line

PDFelement Pro continues to emphasize simplicity, functionality, and affordability. If you’re starting to shop for an Adobe Acrobat alternative, you will find plenty to love.

Editor’s note: Because online services are often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements over time, this review is subject to change in order to accurately reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to text or our final review verdict will be noted at the top of this article.

Best Prices Today: PDFelement Pro

RetailerPriceWondershare$79.99View DealPrice comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwideProductPricePrice comparison from Backmarket

Michael Ansaldo is veteran consumer and small-business technology journalist. He contributes regularly to TechHive and PCWorld.

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