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I work for a non-profit organization and we have a lot of staff that need to work with PDFs. Our designers etc have the Adobe suite, but that is quite expensive, and I do not want to purchase a lot of licenses for the occasional user. We are using mainly Windows-based PCs (and some from Apple).

We need the editor mainly to edit text like adding or deleting a paragraph, rearrange words, fix typos, etc. Nothing too fancy.

I do not want to use an online tool. It has to be 100% offline (after download).

By looking around the net, I found some free PDF editing software; the best seemed to be:

I tested LibreOffice and it does an okay job with text only PDFs. The main drawback is that LibreOffice cannot handle all images well. Some pictures etc get skewed or misplaced. It also seems that all fonts need to be installed on the system or it will replace it with another one. Other minor annoyances I found include that one cannot just save the file. You have to export it as a new PDF each time (but good for versioning). One also has to install the entire suite to get this one function.


Is there any free, offline, true PDF editor that is easy to use?

  • As you are using Mac OS on some PCs, does a solution has to be cross-platform, or is Windows only (or Mac OS only) okay, too? – unor Apr 25 '15 at 17:18
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    @unor: Windows only is totally fine. – philips Apr 25 '15 at 18:20
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I know two solutions for this: 1. Convert PDF to some other editable format and convert it back 2. Use LibreOffice Draw

Solution 1 If you could not find an PDF editor that you like, then, you can convert your documents to some other editable format, and later, convert it back.

For that, I would recommend you to use Pandoc

You can convert PDF (through LaTeX) to any other format, such as HTML or ODF (you can edit that with LibreOffice), then convert it back to HTML.

Check out the Wikipedia page.

Solution 2 I still would recommend you to use Libre Office. You actually don't have to install the whole suite, that is, if your not using Mac OS.

This is an answer from Ask LibreOffice:

The answer to this question varies slightly by operating system. In general, though: Most of LibreOffice is contained in just one executable and downloading or installing only some components does not save much space on the hard drive.

Windows: You have to download the whole package, but you can choose to install only certain applications. To do this, choose the Install Type "Custom" on the third page of the installer, click "Next" and then select the applications you want.

Linux: Most Linux distributions come with most parts of LibreOffice installed, Ubuntu for example only lacks the database component by default. You can install and uninstall individual components through your package manager. On Ubuntu and Debian, those packages are libreoffice-writer, libreoffice-calc, libreoffice-draw etc.

Mac OS: You need to download the whole package and it is not possible to select which applications to install.

Here's what NDTV Gadgets said:

For those who use Windows, Mac or Linux, LibreOffice Draw may be the best programme for editing text in pdf files. LibreOffice is a full office suite and you'll have to download the setup file for the whole suite to use Draw. Fortunately, during installation the programme lets you select the software you want to install. This means that you can install Draw without installing all the other apps in the office suite.

Hope this helps =)

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  • @Switch: Thanks! +1.Your answer concurs with my own research and suspicion. While one can at least Edit it is not really good quality once you get more complex PDFs. It seems to be a missing or suppressed project. I will leave this question open for a while to see if somebody with another bright idea stumbles on this question. – philips Apr 30 '15 at 16:20
  • LibreOffice Draw never fails to partially mess up the PDFs I load - before I've made any edits! ... not to mention reversing direction of any Hebrew text and possibly also converting it to total gibberish. :-( – einpoklum Sep 21 '17 at 21:10
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You can try:

Linux (you can always emulate it or use it from live CD such as Knoppix or using Docker):

Not editors, but have some functions to do some minor changes to PDF files:

Other solution could include:

  • AbiWord by importing PDF into editable word processing document,
  • OpenOffice with PDF Import plugin which does similar as above.

Source: Editing a PDF Document at superuser

Alternatively you can always use Trial version of Acrobat Pro.

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  • None of these work except Inkscape. - Free PDF Editor is for *.fpe files - PDF-XChange Viewer is not an editor – Jaider Mar 22 '19 at 2:00
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Annotator Xodo is available for desktop, iOS and Android. The reviews on the AppStore are quite positive.

Generally, I recommend reading the Blogpost What's so hard about PDF text extraction? on filingdb.com . It is from July 2020, and it has an associated discussion on Hacker News.

The concluding sentence of the BlogPost is

If the data you are interested in only comes in the PDF format, then it’s important to be aware that this is a deceptively simple-looking problem and that a 100% accurate solution may very well be impossible.

In the Hacker News Discussion, people mentioned the following tools for text extraction:

... but these are not interactive editors.

Another good advice from the discussion:

Always use PDF/A-1a (Tagged PDF) which contains the text in accessible format. For many governments this a legal requirement. With tagged PDF it's easy to get the text out.

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