Resources » Other Topics (Non-PDF) » PDF Toolkit: PDF Toolbox

PDFs are pretty incredible, when it comes to sharing them and preserving the formatting of the original document. But, we’ll admit that PDFs aren’t immediately as easy to work when you need to make edits. PDFs require specific tools to edit, convert, and merge. 

List of PDF Tools for Collaborating, Converting, Editing

To help you manage your documents easier, we’ve compiled a tool box that you can use for your PDFs. This “tool box” is a list of software applications that will help you do different things with your PDF. We’ll list some online browser services, subscription-based applications, and some free-to-use programs that let you do whatever you need to with your PDFs. 

Online PDF Tools vs PDF Software 

Your PDF tools will be separated into two broad categories: online tools and software applications. 

Online PDF Platforms

An online PDF platform functions on almost any device entirely from your web browser. You’ll just visit that website and access a host of different PDF services available. PDF.Live is an example of an online PDF platform.

Pros of online PDF platforms

  • Easy to access and use on any PC, laptop (Mac and Windows)
  • Some PDF solutions are free
  • No additional downloads

Cons of online PDF platforms

  • Requires an internet connection (doesn’t work offline)
  • May have limited free use (requires subscription)
  • May only have a single function (such as a tool that just merges PDFs)

Software Downloads

A PDF management software is a program that you download to your computer and boot up similar to Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel). Adobe Acrobat is an example of a software downloaded and installed app for PDF management. 

Pros of PDF downloadable apps

  • No internet connection required to use (works offline)
  • May be an all-in-one tool (a lot of different functions in a single application)
  • May run faster depending on your computer’s hardware

Cons of downloadable PDF apps

  • Requires additional space on your device (and you’ll have to download and install app updates)
  • May run in the background of your computer’s functions 
  • Subscription or payment may be required to use

PDF Converter Programs

PDF converters change your documents to and from PDFs into other file types. The most common way you’ll convert a PDF is to and from a Microsoft Word document. Word documents are very easy to edit, as PDFs will preserve their formatting settings across any device. 

Web-based PDF converter tools can be found across the web. For example, PDF.Live’s web-based PDF converter allows you to convert Doc, Excel, PowerPoint, and JPG files to PDFs and PDF files to Doc, Excel, and PPT files. 

Other tools online may have more niche uses, such as just converting PDFs to PNG, BMP, GIF, TIFF and RTF and other formats (and vice versa). Some tools may be better than others, so make sure you’re using something that’s reputable and trustworthy by checking user reviews. Also, be aware of what you’re downloading from other sites. PDF.Live will have you download your converted files. You should never need to download and run an .exe file from these services. 

PDF Editor Applications

There are a lot of PDF editors that are both web-based and downloadable applications. PDF.Live’s editor is an example of a web-based toolkit that will let you alter PDFs entirely within your web browser. PDF.Live’s editor allows you to change text, images, and other formatting settings of a PDF.

You can try the PDF editor for free and consider a subscription for unlimited use if you like it and have more edits to do. 

There are other PDF editors that are applications rather than web-based. This means that you’ll download a program and then open your PDF with that program to make edits to your PDF. 

Our PDF editor lets you do the following:

  • Add text
  • Edit existing text
  • Sign
  • Add images 
  • Annotate (for proofreading)
  • Rearrange pages
  • Add and remove pages
  • Draw 
  • Add hyperlinks
  • Highlight text and objects
  • And so much more!

PDF Annotating Tools

PDF annotators are handy for when you’re editing a document and need to make comments on that document. You should look for a PDF annotator tool that freely allows you to comment, highlight, and annotate any PDF you’re working on. 

Some PDF editors, such as PDF.Live’s editor, have annotation features built-in. Other PDF readers such as Mac’s PDF Preview will have annotation capabilities. The aforementioned Adobe Acrobat also has this capability. 

If you’re a student looking to take notes on a PDF, consider an application like Flexcil that’s meant to be used on touch-screen devices. This program is geared more toward note-taking for studying and researching. 

PDF Snipping Tool

Want to take screenshots of specific sections of your PDF? You already actually have a program that can do this built into your computer! The snipping tool allows you to draw rectangles on specific sections of your computer screen and create image files based on those sections. This is incredibly useful for taking snapshots of specific sections of your PDF. 

You can even save your snapshot as a JPG and convert that file to a PDF using PDF.Live’s JPG to PDF converter tool

PDF Inspection Tools

Need a tool to inspect the details of a PDF before you share or print it? This information isn’t immediately available to view without a specific program that knows how to “open up” and inspect a PDF. 

For an application that can do this, check out Adobe Preflight. This tool is generally used before print production of PDF documents and will inspect elements such as the colors, fonts, and visibility of certain content. Not the most common tool, but incredibly useful in the right situation! 

Misc PDF Tools

There are a lot of other very specific PDF management tools out there. If you’ve got a specific function in mind, consider looking through PDF.Live’s editor to see if that function is built into our tool. Here are some other common tools that you may be looking for.  

PDF measuring tool

Worried about the size of your PDF when you print it out as a physical document? A PDF measuring tool helps you find the size, in inches or centimeters, of specific sections of your document. This is needed when drafting a PDF that will be printed as a physical document. Adobe Acrobat has a grids and measurements guide that’s useful for this!

PDF quality enhancer

PDF quality enhancers will upscale and enhance your PDFs so that they’re more legible for people that are viewing them. Quality enhancers are most commonly used with physical documents that have been scanned and then converted to a digital PDF document. PDF quality enhancers may also increase the size of your PDF, so be careful when using them. 

PDF comparison tool

Want to look at two different PDFs side by side to spot differences? This is a niche tool, but Diffchecker will help you with this. You can upload two different PDFs and this tool will spot the differences. Useful for reviewing the edits of a document.