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Tech tips

Free tools to edit PDFs from your browser

There’s no denying how useful PDFs are for sharing information. Unlike Word documents or most other document types, PDFs display the same across programs and devices. That means the file you open in, say, Microsoft Word on a Mac looks the same as opening it on your Android phone.

The downside of PDFs, though, is they can be tricky or downright impossible to edit if you don’t have the right software. Adobe Acrobat is great, but it’s expensive. So is Photoshop.

Want a great alternative to the pricey photo editor? Tap or click here for five of our favorites.

You don’t necessarily have to pay a ton to edit PDFs, though. There are free and cheap options that can get the job done. Below are two of our favorites.

PDFescape is a solid free option

First up, an easy-to-use website for all your PDF editing needs. PDFescape lets you edit, annotate, create, fill out, view and password-protect files.

With a free account, you’ll be able to mark up PDF files, fill and save them, share and create your own PDFs. You can do much more with a paid account, and eliminate the ads. For most people, though, the free features are just fine.

Using PDFescape is simple. Drag and drop or choose the file you want to edit. Once your PDF is open and ready to edit, you’ll see options on the right-hand side of the page to add text, images, links, whiteout text, draw with a pencil tool and add a form field.

Keep in mind PDFescape has a 10MB size limit. This should be more than enough for most documents, but if you’re editing something that’s hundreds of pages long, try the next option.

Smallpdf has all the features you need at a low monthly cost

If you need even more tools, check out Smallpdf. This all-in-one online tool suite lets you compress, merge and split PDF files. If you need to take one page from one document and add it to another, no problem. You can also delete, number, rotate and edit pages.

Another handy feature: You can convert PDFs to and from different file types. Need to turn a PowerPoint presentation into a PDF? Done. Need to transform a Word doc or Excel spreadsheet into an easily-shareable format? You can.

And if you’re creating documents you want to keep secure, good news: With Smallpdf, you can encrypt your file with a secure password before you share it. You can also unlock encrypted PDFs for editing.

Here’s a quick rundown of everything you can do:

  • Compress PDFs
  • Convert PowerPoint presentations, JPEGS, Excel spreadsheets and other file formats into PDFs
  • Merge and split PDF files
  • Delete, number, rotate and edit pages
  • Encrypt PDFs with secure passwords and unlock encrypted PDFs

This is a great option if you frequently create, edit or otherwise interact with PDF files. Despite the “free trial” offer, you can use Smallpdf for free from the web as long as you want.

For $12 a month, you can download Smallpdf’s desktop editor to your Windows or Mac. You can also download a browser extension to make editing PDFs even simpler. Tap or click here to download for Chrome.

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