If you need to edit, annotate or convert PDFs on your Mac, we’ve looked at the best PDF readers and editors for Mac in 2021.
The PDF format is one of the most widely used and shared document formats on the internet but it’s not always easy to work with.
That’s because not all applications can open and edit the PDF format.
We’ve therefore looked at the best PDF viewers and editors for Mac that make it easy to open, edit and convert PDF documents on macOS including on Catalina, Big Sur and the latest M1 Macs.
In our research, we found by far the best PDF reader and editor for Mac is Adobe Acrobat Pro which is no surprise as Adobe originally invented the PDF format.
What Is PDF Reader & Editor Software?
Most PDF readers and editors allow you to not only view PDFs but edit, annotate, convert and do pretty much anything you can with other document formats.
For businesses, PDF reader software can boost productivity by improving and streamlining your document management workflow.
Some of the most common uses of PDF reader software are to:
- Read, create, edit, and organize PDFs
- Combine multiple PDFs into one document
- Create PDF forms that can be filled-in
- Convert PDFs to another format such as for use in Microsoft Office
- Secure documents by encrypting or password protecting PDFs
- Collaborate on and approve PDFs
- Digitize paper documents and perform OCR scans
- Compare PDFs and other documents in different formats
- Sign PDFs
- Automate digitization of files to go paperless and manage documents
Does Apple Have a PDF Editing Software?
The only Apple software that can open and edit PDFs are Preview in macOS and Apple Books.
However, although Preview can do basic tasks like filling-in PDF forms and password protecting PDFs, it can’t natively edit PDF documents and Apple Books is only useful for reading and organizing PDFs on a Mac.
Is There A Free PDF Reader or Editor For Mac?
Note however that neither Adobe Reader or Preview allow you to to edit PDFs other than to fill in forms.
You also have to download and install Adobe Reader first whereas Preview is free in macOS. Preview is very basic and only really suitable for reading PDFs, adding passwords and filling in forms.
The Safari web browser also allows you to open PDFs in your browser window but does not allow you to do anything else to it.
There’s also Skim which is a very basic open source free PDF reader for Mac but it’s not updated very often for the latest versions of macOS and does not work on M1 Macs.
The PDF readers reviewed here offer far more control and power over what you can do with a PDF on your Mac and work on all versions of macOS including M1 chip Macs.
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With this in mind, here are the best PDF reading and editing software for Mac of 2021.
Adobe invented the PDF format so it’s no surprise we found Adobe Acrobat Pro DC by far the best PDF reader and editor for Mac on the market.
Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is the more advanced version of Adobe Acrobat Reader as it lets you do pretty much anything with PDFs including editing.
Adobe Acrobat Pro DC works on both Mac and Windows PCs and allows you to create, edit and convert PDFs better than any other PDF software.
Whatever the document, Adobe Acrobat can turn it into a PDF simply by taking a photo and uploading it to Acrobat Pro DC. This includes Microsoft Office documents including Excel and will still allow you to edit tables.
Alternatively, Adobe Acrobat will convert a PDF into a Microsoft Office document including Excel and Microsoft Word but still preserve the formatting.
In fact the format preservation in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is easily the best in any PDF reader and is one of the things that separates it from other PDF tools which often struggle to do this.
Acrobat Pro DC is part of Adobe’s amazing Creative Cloud group of products and if you’re a student or educator, you should seriously consider an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription as Adobe is offering 60% off Creative Cloud.
On its own Adobe Acrobat Pro costs $14.99 per month but there are special business pricing plans for teams.
There is also Adobe Acrobat Standard DC which is slightly cheaper at $12.99 per month but there is no Mac version of the Standard version – it’s Windows only.
You can also try a free trial of Adobe Acrobat Pro to judge it for yourself.
You can check out our full review of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC for more.
Pricing: $14.99/m or 60% off Creative Cloud
- Allows you to do pretty much anything to a PDF
- Adobe invented the PDF format
- Powerful Microsoft Office conversions preserve formatting
- Generous student discounts on the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite
- Works on M1 Macs
- Works on M1 Macs via Rosetta but still awaiting native version
FineReader PDF For Mac (formerly ABBYY FineReader Pro For Mac) is the best alternative to Adobe Acrobat Pro and an incredibly powerful PDF editing and management tool.
ABBYY have been in the PDF business longer than most and the Windows version of FineReader PDF is probably the most widely used PDF software outside of Adobe’s Acrobat Pro DC.
FineReader PDF uses AI technology to digitize, retrieve, edit, protect, share and collaborate on PDF documents. The AI engine has been recently updated to also offer some of the best OCR document scanning on the market.
FineReader PDF can also be used on mobile devices to take a picture of a document and then instantly convert it to PDF in the cloud.
FineReader PDF offers different solutions for enterprises and individuals. Home users can currently get 15% off FineReader PDF For Mac for a limited period.
You can also read our full ABBYY FineReader PDF For Mac review for more.
Pricing: $85 with 15% discount
- Converts to edit PDF, Word, Excel and more
- Maintains formatting of the original document
- Works on mobile devices
- Works on M1 Macs but only via Rosetta
- Updates to new versions of macOS are slow
- Does not work natively on Apple Silicon M1 Macs yet
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to Adobe Acrobat Pro, then Kdan PDF Reader may be for you.
Kdan PDF Reader is a PDF reader and editor that lets you view, edit, convert, and sign PDF documents on iOS, Android, Mac and Windows devices.
Kdan PDF is very good at smooth page scrolling and allows you to shift the page background to day, night or sepia to reduce eye strain. You can also use a slideshow mode to present PDFs.
Kdan PDF Reader is suitable for fillable and non-interactive PDF forms such as tax declarations and allows you to sign contracts and agreements with electronic signatures.
You can edit text in PDFs although the text editor in the Mac version is still only in beta version and changing the text font and size of the original text may not work well.
Kdan PDF Reader also allows you to convert a PDF file to an editable format in Microsoft Office, Text, HTML, RTF, ePUB or MOBI format. Kdan PDF Reader does a good job of preserving tables, formatting and tables although you may find yourself having to make manual adjustments in more complex layouts.
However, Kdan PDF Reader lacks many essential PDF management features such as the ability to print custom pages and limited text editing in the Mac version.
Kdan PDF Reader also tends to move other things around the page randomly if you try to adjust the formatting and can be quite frustrating to work with at times.
Pricing: $89.99 Standard / $119.99 Pro
- Lots of PDF management tools
- Easy to use
- Converts to various formats
- Text editing limited in the Mac version
- Formatting can be messy after conversion
PDF Reader Pro is a popular PDF reader app for Mac with plenty of tools to edit and manage PDFs.
PDF Reader Pro supports Annotation, Editing, Form filling, Converting, Creating, Signing, Bookmarking and Protecting PDFs.
PDF Reader Pro also supports merging and combining multiple documents, splitting PDFs into multiple files and inserting pages from another PDF
PDF Reader Pro can also convert PDFs to Word and other Microsoft Office formats but this costs extra on top of the $59.99 for the basic version.
PDF Reader Pro does a surprisingly good job of preserving the formatting of documents including complex tables and bullet points.
PDF Reader Pro can also scan and convert 50 different languages and batch convert multiple documents.
PDF Reader Pro costs $59.99 for the Premium version which includes OCR scanning but for Office export you’ll need to pay $79.99 for a permanent license.
Pricing: $59.99 Premium / $79.99 Permanent License
- Edits, converts and signs PDFs
- Slick interface
- Supports 50 languages
- Costs more for MS Office export support
FoxIt PDF Reader is a multi platform PDF reader and viewer that can form fill and sign PDFs across desktop, mobile and web.
If you just want to reading and print a PDF FoxIt makes it easy. If you need to create PDF forms for filling in, PDF FoxIt uses the more advanced Acroforms and XFA (XML Form Architecture) for form filling.
Foxit PDF Reader is suitable for individuals but also offers a powerful enterprise solution to integrate with cloud storage services and popular enterprise CMS software.
You can easily collaborate on PDFs with FoxIt PDF Reader as well as add images, videos, and file attachments.
You can also protect and sign PDFs in Foxit PDF Reader in your own handwriting or use eSignature to verify the status of digital signatures.
Pricing: $182.85 Standard / $228.85 Pro
- Powerful PDF security features
- Excellent for creating PDF forms
- Integrated with cloud storage solutions
- High up-front cost