Best Open-source Alternatives to Adobe Acrobat for PDFs in 2022

Even if you don’t work with PDFs often, you’ve probably heard someone recommend tools like Adobe Acrobat for creating and editing documents.

However, the cost of using Adobe Acrobat puts some people off the software. Yet many don’t know that there are reliable open-source alternatives today that are free. Thankfully, you can now edit PDF online or offline with other Adobe Acrobat alternatives. 

This article will share the best-rated open source PDF applications in 2022 and why they are worth your time.

Why do you need an Adobe Acrobat alternative?

While Adobe Acrobat works excellently for most document editing functions like PDF merge and splitting, it’s not the most cost-friendly software out there. Students on a budget prefer cheaper alternatives with similar features to Adobe Reader.

People with limited technical skills struggle with Adobe Acrobat’s complex interface. But with any modern open source PDF reader, independent developers have to streamline functionalities to increase usability.

So if you are struggling to figure out the many steps required to execute an operation on Adobe Acrobat, you should look for an open source PDF editor. 

Generally, everybody can benefit from the better compatibility and lighter software of free alternative to Adobe Acrobat. Start with the following PDF tools if you feel like trying one out.


Lumin PDF tops this list of alternative PDF tools because of its consistency and simplicity. This PDF reader and editor focuses on the essential editing operations like compressing, annotating, and signing. 

Lumin PDF polishes its processes to work flawlessly with every document format. It is also an online editor, meaning that it won’t task your laptop’s processor, and you don’t have to download and install files. Register on the online platform with your computer or smartphone and start editing your PDF files in easy steps.

While you will eventually have to pay for Lumin PDF’s premium features, you have a 7-day trial period to test the waters.

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If you are looking for a feature-friendly PDF tool that works well on any operating system, PDFelement is a popular pick. Today, it’s one of the most reliable open source PDF merge tools. This software gets regular updates from its developers and occasionally adds new features.

PDFelement is ideal for exporting PDF files such as PPTX, DOCX, and XLSX as the software supports format conversion. The software also lets you rearrange the pages of a PDF file and edit elements in it. It is a handy tool for finance, healthcare, education, and IT sectors.

If you prefer offline PDF tools, you can download and install PDFelement on your Windows computer.


Okular is famous for how well it handles note-taking in PDF e-books. It supports touch interaction and lets you annotate PDFs, select text, graphically browse specific parts of a document, and sign or verify digital signatures.

But even with these premium features, this cross-platform editor uses familiar icons to represent its operations. However, it has an advanced user interface, which may not be ideal for elderly users and people prioritizing simplicity.

In all, Okular is the best open source viewer for comic lovers. It lets users read EPUB books, digital comic strips, and Markdown documents with thumbnails by the side for faster navigation.

Libre Office

LibreOffice is an Adobe Acrobat pro alternative that is gaining traction in the workplace and remote classrooms. This open-source editor has many similar features to Microsoft Office, and its ribbon will remind you of the standard Microsoft package.

LibreOffice makes editing PDF files easy, thanks to its ability to add and delete pages, edit text, convert file formats, and sign documents. 

However, this tool doesn’t get full marks because of its clunky user interface. The developers sacrifice excellent user experience for functionality, although you can expect improvements with future updates.


Scribus is an advanced PDF tool that you can use to design magazines and edit PDF files. This software’s strength is adding images, text, and new elements to existing PDFs. So although you can’t delete information from a PDF file, you can update and make it more refined.

After editing a document on Scribus, you can export it in its original format without losing quality. The best part is that this software is free.

What’s more? Scribus handles desktop publishing better than most other PDF editors, and if you are shopping for an open source PDF editor Windows computers can run, you’ll love this tool.

PDFSam Basic

You’d not be out of place to expect an editor with “Basic” in its name to offer the bare minimum in terms of PDF editing functionalities. But expect pleasant surprises when using PDFSam Basic. This tool has more features than you’d expect from a free Adobe Acrobat alternative, allowing you to sign and merge PDFs or delete, add, and rotate specific document pages.

PDFSam Basic is user-friendly and works well on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems, although your device would need Java to run the software program.

The premium features like cropping pages, converting, visual combination, and reordering will cost you a bit of money. But compared to the price of those functionalities on Adobe Acrobat, PDFSam Basic is a steal.


PDFescape is an online PDF editor that doesn’t require you to have a user account before enjoying its features. This tool lets you add, reshuffle, crop, and rotate pages from a PDF document.

Although the tool limits you to a maximum of 100-page documents and doesn’t let you delete elements from a PDF file, you can add texts and pictures to it. You can also draw, add notes for other users to read, and share documents online for collaboration.

PDFescape works on computers running Windows 7 through 10, and you can download the program to your computer for faster access.

What is the best open source PDF editor?

This review articulates the strengths of different open source PDF editors so that you can choose which ones suit your needs. The tools in this article will appeal to different people, as some of them are offline tools while others are online applications. 

Some give you complete control over PDF files, while others limit your access to protect the integrity of the original information in PDF documents.

While every tool on this list can comfortably replace Adobe Acrobat in your workflow, Lumin PDF is the pick of the bunch. Its user interface is simple, and it has the most relevant features. You can rely on the online PDF software to produce expected results every time you edit a PDF file with it.

Though you will eventually pay to use the premium features, Lumin PDF guarantees far more value for your money than other PDF editors in 2022.

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