Adobe Acrobat Pro DC alternatives - Windows

The Adobe Acrobat Pro DC alternatives for Mac is available here: https://uwaterloo.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/ISTKB/pages/269156886

Changes to Adobe Acrobat Pro DC Licensing

The Adobe Acrobat Pro DC licensing model is a subscription-based model, which means University of Waterloo departments/units have to purchase a subscription for Acrobat Pro DC. Please review the Campus Adobe Options.     

Do I still need Adobe Acrobat Pro DC?

Many commonly used features of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC are available in other applications UWaterloo employees already have access to (e.g. Microsoft 365) or are freely available (e.g. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC). Alternate, less expensive applications may also be available for purchase. Please see the list of alternatives below.

You may still require Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, if you:

  • create and/or edit fillable PDF forms

  • make remediations for accessibility (i.e. adjust tags or reading order)

  • need to edit content directly in a PDF document (Note: edits can be made to some files using Microsoft Word)

PDF Studio 2021 Professional

PDF Studio 2021 Professional is a full-featured PDF editor that maintains full compatibility with the PDF Standard. It is available for purchase at a discounted rate for UWaterloo employees via OnTheHub (limit of 10). To purchase more than 10 licenses, contact SHI (Canadian reseller). For feature lists and how-to’s, see the PDF Studio User Guide and Knowledge Base.

Note PDF Studio doesn’t have an auto-tag feature, like Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. Tags must be created in the original authoring application or manually in PDF Studio. If a PDF is required to be accessible and will be heavily edited, either to adjust the content or add fillable form fields, it is recommended to continue to use Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.


Alternative Methods for Basic PDF Editing

Info The free version of PDF Architect (available from https://www.pdfforge.org/pdfarchitect) includes features to merge PDFs, and rotate, re-arrange and delete pages. Ignore the prompts to upgrade to a paid version, all instructions listed in the table below can be completed with the free version. You will need to login with your Microsoft 365 account to access the tools in the Convert tab.

 

Requirement

Alternative 

Instruction

Requirement

Alternative 

Instruction

Creating PDF documents

Microsoft Office

  • Create your file in a Microsoft 365 program (e.g. Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and then save the file as a PDF.

  • Save a copy of your file as the appropriate Microsoft 365 file type (e.g. .docx, .xlsx, .pptx) as it will be useful when you need to edit your PDF in the future.



Microsoft Photos

  • Windows 10 has added the ability to convert an image file to PDF via its default photo viewing app.

  • The 'Microsoft Print to PDF' feature allows you to print to PDFs natively.

Editing content in PDF documents

Microsoft Office (with original file)

  • If you have the original Microsoft Office file, open the file in the appropriate Microsoft Office program, make your changes, and then save the file as a PDF again.



Microsoft Office (without original file)

  • Open the PDF in Word, make your changes, and then save the file as a PDF again.

  • Works best for files that are short, mostly text, with simple layouts.

  • You will need to re-apply heading styles, re-add alt text to your images and tables, and re-set the header row(s) for your tables.

  • You may need to reformat other aspects of your file as well; the more complex the file, the more reformatting you will need to do.



Adobe Acrobat Export PDF (purchase required)

  • An Adobe Acrobat Export PDF subscription will grant you access to the Export PDF tool in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC and your browser through Adobe's Document Cloud.

  • Export the PDF file to Word or Excel, make your changes and save the file as a PDF again.

  • Exporting a PDF produces a Word document that retains more formatting than simply opening the PDF in Word.

  • This is a better option for files that are long or complex, of if you have many PDFs to edit.

  • You will need to re-apply heading styles, re-add alt text to your images and tables, and re-set the header row(s) for your tables.

  • You may need to reformat other aspects of your file as well; the more complex the file, the more reformatting you will need to do.



Adding comments and marking up text in PDF documents

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

  • To add comments to a PDF, use the annotation and drawing markup tools. You can also add sticky notes, text notes, text boxes, callouts, various shapes and free-form drawings.

  • To mark up text in a PDF, use the text editing tools. You can highlight text, underline text and strikethrough text, as well as indicate text to be inserted or replaced.

Filling and signing PDF forms

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

  • All supported versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader DC allow you to fill, sign and save PDF forms. This functionality was added to Adobe Reader XI.

  • Fillable/interactive forms

    • Contain fields that are easy to fill in with text, select, or pick from a set of options.

    • Simply click on the fields to fill in interactive forms.

    • For these forms, the Fill & Sign tool displays only the Sign option.

  • Flat/static forms

    • Do not have interactive fields you can fill in.

    • You can use the Fill & Sign tool to fill out your PDF form electronically, instead of printing and filling out these forms by hand.

    • The Fill & Sign tool lets you manually add text, select an option by adding a cross mark, checkmark or dot, and annotate the form with a circle or line.

  • Signing and initialing forms

    • For fillable and flatforms, you can type, draw or insert an image of your handwritten signature or initials.

    • Use the Fill & Sign tool to sign or initial your form.

Deleting a page from a PDF document

PDF Architect (free version)
https://www.pdfforge.org/pdfarchitect

  1. Use the Delete tool to remove the desired page(s). For instructions:

    1. Open the PDF Architect User Guide

    2. Navigate to Page Feature > Delete

Rearranging pages in a PDF document

PDF Architect (free version)
https://www.pdfforge.org/pdfarchitect

  1. Use the Move tool to rearrange the pages. For instructions:

    1. Open the PDF Architect User Guide

    2. Navigate to Page Feature > Move

Combining multiple PDF documents into a single PDF document

PDF Architect (free version)
https://www.pdfforge.org/pdfarchitect

  1. Log in to gain access to the Convert feature.

    1. Click on the person icon in the top right.

    2. Click the ‘SIGN IN’ button.

    3. Click the ‘Sign in with Microsoft’ button.

    4. Log in using your University of Waterloo Microsoft 365 account (e.g. username@uwaterloo.ca -your username is your 8-character UWaterloo username, i.e. j25rober).

  2. Use the Merge tool to combine the multiple PDF documents into a single PDF. For instructions:

    1. Open the PDF Architect User Guide

    2. Navigate to Convert Feature > Merge

Replacing a signature page in a PDF document

PDF Architect (free version)
https://www.pdfforge.org/pdfarchitect

  1. Log in to gain access to the Convert feature.

    1. Click on the person icon in the top right.

    2. Click the ‘SIGN IN’ button.

    3. Click ‘Sign up with Microsoft’ button.

    4. Log in using your University of Waterloo Microsoft 365 account (e.g. username@uwaterloo.ca -your username is your 8-character UWaterloo username, i.e. j25rober).

  2. Use the Delete tool to remove the blank signature page from the original PDF document. For instructions:

    1. Open the PDF Architect User Guide

    2. Navigate to Page Feature > Delete

  3. Use the Merge tool to combine the open PDF document with the signed page (PDF or image file). For instructions:

    1. Open the PDF Architect User Guide

    2. Navigate to Convert Feature > Merge

  4. If necessary, use the Move tool to place the signed page in the correct location. For instructions:

    1. Open the PDF Architect User Guide

    2. Navigate to Page Feature > Move

Need help?

Contact the IST Service Desk online or 519-888-4567 ext. 44357.

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