If you’re looking for a PDF editor for your Mac or Windows PC but don’t want to get locked into a subscription, we’ve looked at the best PDF editors with a lifetime license purchase option that work on both platforms.
Many PDF editing software nowadays are subscription based.
Like it or loathe it, subscription based pricing is an increasingly common model used by software developers but we found there are still some excellent PDF editors out there that offer a perpetual license with no limitations.
In our research and testing, we found the best one time purchase PDF editing software is Adobe Acrobat Pro 2020 which still offers a lifetime license and is still an incredibly powerful tool.
Are There Any Disadvantages of Perpetual Licenses?
The main disadvantage of opting to buy a PDF editor with a lifetime license is that they eventually become outdated and unsupported by the developer.
One of the catches with most one time purchase PDF editing software is that they’re only supported with a limited number of updates after you’ve purchased them.
Some will receive security updates and support updates when new versions of macOS or Windows are released but eventually they will no longer be supported by the developer and become unusable.
Subscription based PDF editors on the other hand are continually updated both with performance fixes and often new features too so you always have the latest version of the product with no end of life to worry about.
If a developer offers both a perpetual license and subscription version of its PDF editor, then you’ll also often find that the subscription version has more features in an attempt to encourage users to go down the subscription route.
With this in mind here are the best PDF editors with a lifetime license available for both Mac and Windows PCs.
Although Acrobat Pro 2020 has been replaced by Adobe Acrobat Pro DC which is only available on subscription or as part of Creative Cloud, Adobe still allows users to download and use Adobe Acrobat Pro 2020 with a perpetual license.
This means that you get a lifetime license of Adobe Acrobat Pro 2020 for $538 which you can use indefinitely compared to $19.99 per month for Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.
Windows users can also purchase Adobe Acrobat Standard 2020 with a perpetual license for $358.00 but the Standard version is not available to Mac users.
Adobe Acrobat Pro 2020 allows you to do pretty much anything you can do with Adobe Acrobat Pro DC minus the updates and Adobe Document Cloud integration of the latter.
This means that Adobe Acrobat Pro 2020 does not include any quarterly Acrobat feature updates and does not allow you to access premium Adobe Document Cloud services such as Acrobat Sign via web browser or mobile device.
Pricing: $358.80 Adobe Acrobat 2020 Standard (Windows only) / $538.80 Adobe Acrobat 2020 Pro (Windows and Mac)
The most powerful PDF editor out there
Powerful Microsoft Office conversions preserve formatting
Works on Apple Silicon Macs
Works on the latest version of macOS Sonoma
Lifetime license version is not integrated with Adobe Document Cloud
Adobe Acrobat 2020 Standard version is Windows only
2. PDF Expert
PDF Expert is made exclusively for Apple devices so it looks and works great on Mac, iPad and iPhones.
PDF Expert also 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 lifetime license version 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.
PDF Expert 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.
PDF Expert also supports OCR scanning and signing of documents plus text to speech.
Nitro PDF Pro is a powerful PDF editor which offers two versions for Mac and Windows with a perpetual license alongside its subscription versions.
Nitro PDF Pro has a familiar Microsoft Office style ribbon style interface and can edit, combine and convert documents to PDF including from Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
Nitro PDF Pro also has an excellent integrated OCR scanner which can turn any document into a searchable PDF file in minutes.
You can also eSign documents in Nitro PDF Pro although this costs extra and requires a subscription compared to the main product which you can purchase for a one off fee.
For Mac users, Nitro PDF is available in two versions from the Mac App Store.
Nitro PDF Pro For Mac offers all PDF editing features for a one off payment of $139.99.
Confusingly however, Nitro PDF Pro For Mac and Windows 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 which doesn’t include form building, OCR or PDF conversion tools. Again, this costs slightly more on the Nitro website at $129.99.
Neither of these two products include e-signing however.
For e-signing you need a Nitro PDF cloud plan which are subscription only but include e-signing and can be used in any browser.