Adobe invented the PDF format so it’s no surprise we found Adobe Acrobat Pro DCthe best and most powerful PDF editor for Mac on the market.
The app is the more advanced version of Adobe Acrobat Reader For Mac (sometimes referred to as “Adobe For Mac”) as it lets you do pretty much anything with PDFs.
It 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 yet it will still allow you to edit tables in the PDF itself.
Alternatively, Adobe Acrobat will convert a PDF into a Microsoft Office document including PDF to Excel and PDF to Microsoft Word but still preserve the formatting better than any other PDF conversion tool.
In fact the format preservation in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is easily the best in any PDF editor and is one of the things that separates it from other PDF tools which often struggle to do this.
There is also Adobe Acrobat Standard DC which is slightly cheaper but note that there is no Mac version of Adobe Acrobat Standard.
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.
The latest version 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.
The great thing about PDF Expert is it’s made exclusively for Apple devices so it looks and works great on Mac, iPad and iPhones.
The other bonus is that that PDF Expert offers a lifetime license for $139.99 so you can use it for an unlimited time as long as it remains compatible with the latest versions of macOS.
The one time purchase of PDF Expert offers all the same features as the subscription version, minus mobile access and updates. The lack of update support means that eventually it will stop working with new releases of macOS but you should get many years of use out of it.
The app has a very clean interface that looks like it was made for macOS and iOS.
PDF Expert can edit PDFs, images and links as well as convert PDF documents to Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
It also supports OCR scanning and signing of documents plus text to speech.
Most recently PDF Expert has been updated to work natively with Apple Silicon Macs so it’s very fast an responsive on M-series Macs.
Nitro PDF Pro is a powerful PDF editor with a familiar Microsoft Office style ribbon style interface.
The software can edit, combine and convert documents to PDF including from Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
You can also eSign documents with Nitro PDF Pro although this costs extra and requires a subscription compared to the main product which you can purchase with a perpetual license.
The app also has an excellent integrated OCR scanner which can turn any document into a searchable PDF file in minutes.
Nitro PDF Pro is available in two versions from the Mac App Store.
The Pro version offers all PDF editing features for a one off payment of $139.99. Confusingly however, Nitro PDF Pro is $179.99 if you purchase directly from the Nitro website.
There’s also Nitro PDF Essentials which is available exclusively for Mac for a slightly lower one off payment of $119.99 but doesn’t include form building, OCR or PDF conversion tools. Again, this costs slightly more on the Nitro website at $129.99.
You can also buy Nitro PDF cloud plans which are subscription only but include e-signing and can be used in any browser.
You can see a full comparison of all the Nitro PDF products here.
Soda PDF is an online PDF editor which also has a desktop app for Mac users. The app works surprisingly fast online and is very responsive for a Cloud app.
The Mac desktop app allows you to do a certain amount of editing and PDF document management offline although some features are only available in the Cloud version.
Soda PDF is easy to use and allows you to view, edit and convert from different formats into PDF in the Standard version.
It also includes other tools such as OCR, digital signing, annotations and form building.
There’s also a tool to import documents you’ve edited and manged in Adobe Acrobat.
There are Soda PDF plans for both individuals and enterprises.
Unlike many PDF tools, the Soda PDF free trial doesn’t require any information from you and opens instantly in your browser. To save anything, you need to create an account however with your email address.
However, neither Adobe Acrobat Reader or Preview allow you to to fully edit PDFs other than to fill in forms and do basic edits.
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.
You can also try using Skim which is a basic open source free PDF reader and note taking software for Mac which is mainly designed for annotating scientific papers but can be used with any PDF document.
To fully edit PDFs on a Mac using you need to use a full PDF editor.
The PDF software reviewed here offer far more control and power over what you can do with a PDF on your Mac compared to free PDF software and and work on all versions of macOS including M1 and M2 chip Macs.