PDF-XChange Editor is a great free PDF editor

PDF-XChange Editor icon logo

PDF-XChange Editor is a wonderful free piece of software for Windows in an ocean of PDF software editors. There are so many out there it can be difficult to choose and people most likely looking for one only seek them out when they suddenly have a PDF they need to edit or a form to fill out. Let’s take a look at what makes this one the most decent.

Background Info on PDF-XChange Editor

The software is developed by Tracker Software which was incorporated in 1997 and is a full member of the PDF association. With this, at least you know these guys are legitimate and not some scammy small-bit operation because it does cost their company money to be a member of the PDF association.

Tracker Software’s products are mostly focused on PDF, so it makes sense. They have a variety of products that cost money, but they do offer PDF-Xchange Editor for free with premium options if you need more advanced features.

Features

Let’s start with what makes PDF-XChange Editor stand out from other competing software. 

No unnecessary or extra junk

Going through the installer, I appreciate software that doesn’t come bundled with adware or other things you don’t need. The installer for PDF-XChange Editor is super straight forward, and you can safely keep clicking next without having to finely comb through each screen wondering if it’s going to install something you don’t want. Having said that, there is a custom install so you can still disable certain features you do not want installed. 

Easy Interface

PDF-XChange Editor features a UI that looks very similar to Microsoft Office’s ribbon system. If you’re ever spent time in MS Office, you’ll probably feel comfortable here. Actions and buttons are broken up into categories such as “Home” which has most things you’re looking for with additional categories offering other annotative or editing features.

The main window when first opening PDF-XChange Editor

Also, I would like to comment on how nicely organized PDF-XChange Editor’s preferences are. They’re nicely laid out and there are many options you can tweak. 

A screenshot of PDF-XChange Editor's preferences which are very nice.

Most features are free

That’s the way it goes in the world of PDF editing. There are real people developing this software and they can’t just give away everything for free. Having said that, I am very happy to say that 60% of the features in PDF-XChange Editor are completely free. To some people that may sound low and to others that may sound high. I’m here to say for my use case I was able to fill out Japanese immigration form PDFs with no problem. This involved adding text on top of the PDF as well as adding a photo.

An example of filling in a form using the text annotation feature and picture insert.

For features that are not free, a small shopping cart icon will be displayed next to the menu item. It’s not too obnoxious and I’m okay with this. 

An example of the premium features

Final Thoughts on PDF-XChange Editor

Instead of having “all-in-one” PDF software, I’ve split my usage of PDF files to viewing and editing. I have software (Sumatra) that I use for quickly viewing PDFs and then I have software (PDF-XChange Editor) that is for when I need to fill out a form or edit a PDF such as whiting out an area or adding additional text fields on worksheets I make for students.

One more thing I’d like to add is I think the name “PDF-XChange Editor” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and I found myself having a difficult time remembering it. It’d be nice if the developers in the future could give it a simplified one. Oh well, the name may not be great, but the software is.

I know my use case is not going to be the same for everyone, so your results may vary. For those that need specific editing features that are restricted to premium, I would suggest looking at free online PDF editors that might have the feature you need for that one odd job. 

Link: Download it!

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