It’s easy to convert files to PDF. You can find free web and desktop apps that allow you to convert almost any sort of file, whether it’s an image, a document, or a spreadsheet to the PDF format. Most word processors even let you save a file as a PDF but when it comes to creating one, or even filling out a PDF form, you run into a road block. You have to buy Adobe’s proprietary software and it doesn’t come cheap given Adobe has moved to a subscription based model. PDFelement Pro is a reasonable, feature rich app that lets you create and edit PDFs, and do everything else in between.
Fill Out PDF Form
Launch PDFelement Pro and select the Edit PDF option. Select the PDF form you want to fill out, and the app will open it.
The PDFelement Pro UI is amazingly simple; the ribbon layout is reminiscent of Office apps but the colors and the buttons are more intuitive to use. When you open a form in the app, it automatically detects that it’s a form and selects the ‘Form’ tab on the ribbon for you.
To start filling out a form, just click inside one of the form fields. If it’s a text field, a cursor will appear in the input box and you can start typing right away. If it’s a dropdown field, you can click the arrow and select an option from the menu. The app recognizes all types of form fields, lets you browse all the listed options under a field, and select and save whichever one you want to use.
Edit PDF Forms
The Form tab has controls that allow you to add more form fields. The fields you can add are text fields, check boxes, radio buttons, combo boxes, list boxes, push buttons, and digital signatures. You can add these form fields to an existing form that you have, and you can of course add them to a form you’ve created yourself.
Review PDF File
PDFelement Pro has controls for reviewing a PDF file and we don’t mean tools for zooming in or out of a page. There is a dedicated Comment tab that allows you to highlight, underline, and strike-through text. You can annotate a file with text boxes, insert sticky notes, and add shapes. You can also add an image stamp, and attach a file. This is for PDF files that are saved in editable form.
For files that can’t be edited directly, like a brochure or a poster, you can still edit it but each letter in the text exists as its own object. You have to delete it one by one and then you’re free to use the text input tools to enter new text.
PDFelement Pro can select any element in a PDF file regardless if it’s editable or not. For PDF files that can’t be edited, the editing process is a bit longer but it is nevertheless still possible.
To access the properties of a text box, or the pencil tool, or the shape tools, insert one of these elements and right-click it. From the context menu, select Properties from the context menu.
Creating A PDF File
You can create a PDF file with PDFelement complete with text, images, and form fields. When you create a new file, you can choose the size of the page, and the page orientation.
When you use PDFelement to create a PDF file, or even to edit one, you will see one of its best features in action; guides. These guides are basically lines that help you align elements in your file. The guides are intelligent and able to detect the various elements on a page and help you line things up perfectly.
PDFelement doesn’t have heading styles or anything like that and there’s no way to add a table of contents like you can in word processors however, you can add a header and footer that will repeat on all pages of a file.
With respect to design elements, you can add links, images, a background color or image, and watermarks. There is no support for adding graphs or tables however, if you have an image of a graph or table you can insert those into the file. Alternatively, and this is the long way to do it, you can use the various shape and text tools to create a graph or table but that is going to take forever.
If you need to insert an image in an existing PDF file, extract a single page from a file, split a document, and replace a page in the file, you can do so from the controls on the Page tab.
PDFelement has a tone of other features that compliment its PDF editing abilities.
OCR & Scanning
PDFelement was made for editing PDF files and it doesn’t limit itself to just soft copies. Scanners scan hard documents in PDF form and PDFelement has an OCR that can convert the scanned text from a scanned image and make it editable. It has an excellent OCR tool and it can connect to your scanner as well.
PDFelement can also export files to other formats; docs, pptx, xlsx, epub, rtf, txt, and as an image.
PDF files are also large in size which is why PDFelement has an optimization feature that lets you shrink the size for publishing on the web, printing, sharing, and custom optimization settings.
The custom optimization settings let you change how the images in a document, which are responsible for the large size of the file, are scaled down.
If you have a PDF file with tables, there’s a batch processing feature that allows you to extract the data and you can do this from multiple files in one go.
PDFelement comes with some great templates you can use for creating files. These include templates for business, finance, legal documents, and more.
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PDFelement isn’t free. It has a trial version that lets you try the app out for a few days and the full version isn’t going to replace your standard word processor, whichever one you use. It is good enough to become your go-to PDF editing app though. The full version costs $99.95 but if you’re a student or you work in the academic field, you can get a discount. The price-tag may seem steep but compared to Adobe’s subscription model, and the fact that it forces you to use its Creative Cloud app, this app is affordable. Once you pay for it, it’s yours for life.