Open Source PDF Editors for All Platforms in 2024 (Comparison)

By ComPDFKit | 2024 Apr 12
Open Source Alternative

PDF documents are widely used in this digital age, and their cross-platform compatibility, fixed appearance and layout, security, and convenience make them one of the preferred formats for disseminating, sharing, and archiving documents. Despite these advantages, the challenges of editing PDFs trigger users to seek an open source PDF editor or open source PDF libraries.


Open source PDF editors or free PDF software attract users with its advantages, including but not limited to low cost, customizable UI and features, rapid iteration, community support, etc. In this post, we will introduce and compare several outstanding open source PDF editors compatible with various platforms. Additionally, if you require the development of your own PDF editor, we offer a powerful PDF library for seamless integration, enabling swift implementation.


Tips to Choose Open Source PDF Editor


Features Support


First the foremost, make sure that your chosen editor has the features you need. Viewing and annotating are basic functions normally. However, you may also consider whether it supports advanced features such as encryption, signing, and PDF form filling. Thus, you need to check the features list of open-source PDF editors in the first place.



When evaluating a free PDF editor, it's essential to consider two aspects of compatibility: platforms and file formats.  For the former, assess the editor's support for various operating systems to ensure seamless functionality across your computer, mobile device, or browser. For the latter, verify its compatibility with different file formats, particularly regarding its conversion capabilities.


Updates and Maintenance

A continuously updated and actively maintained open source PDF editor ensures timely assistance and bug fixes. Therefore, you can check its changelog to assess the frequency of updates.


Vibrancy of Community

An active community, such as user forums, social media, etc. can provide you with a platform for usage tips, troubleshooting assistance, and connecting with fellow users for effective communication.



Confirm that the open source PDF editor is developed by trustworthy developers and make sure that you download the software from official sources. For example, make sure it has an official website or public contact information. This reduces the potential of damaging your device or PDF files and will keep your personal data and files safe.


Performance and Stability

A PDF editor with stable performance and smooth operation ensures uninterrupted workflow, minimizing the risk of crashes or freezes and maximizing productivity.



Some PDF editors may support plugins or extensions, which can provide you with additional features and customization options. If you need more specific features by adding plugins, extensibility could be one of the criteria.


Best Open Source PDF Editor


Convert to Word and Edit


The built-in Microsoft Office suite lacks direct editing capabilities for PDFs. Luckily, a stopgap measure involves using Word to convert PDF documents into Word files for editing. After editing, you can then export the revised files back to PDF format.


Step 1. Start by launching Word and accessing the File menu.

Step 2. Select the Open option to locate and open your PDF file. If PDF files are not visible, adjust the file type setting to display all files.

Step 3. Then, you will see a window prompting you to convert the selected PDF document to Word. Click OK to initiate the conversion and begin editing the Word document.

Step 4. After making your edits, save the document by clicking Save As, and opt for PDF format when selecting the file type.




However, some users may encounter difficulties with this method as it may not effectively handle complex PDF files containing text, forms, tables, images, and other elements. In this case, it would be better to use professional open source PDF editing software.


Adobe Acrobat


Adobe Acrobat is a versatile PDF editor offering a wide range of features like creating, editing, and managing PDF files, allowing users to easily access and utilize its various tools and options. It's compatible with various operating systems, such as Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Web platforms. Being a commercial product, Adobe Acrobat receives regular updates and iterations to enhance its functionality and user experience. For those exploring open source PDF editors, a 7-day free trial of Adobe Acrobat provides an opportunity to test its capabilities before committing to a subscription.




PDF Reader Pro


PDF Reader Pro offers a comprehensive suite of editing tools for PDF documents, facilitating various modifications from basic text edits to advanced formatting changes, aiding collaboration and document review. Its excellent performance is complemented by cross-platform compatibility across Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS systems, ensuring smooth transitions between devices. PDF Reader Pro seamlessly integrates with cloud services further enhances accessibility, guaranteeing that the latest document versions are always accessible. Moreover, users can experience the full range of PDF Reader Pro's features for a trial period of 7 days after downloading, while the free version offers essential features with fewer limitations.





Inkscape, an open-source vector graphics editor, provides the capability to open and modify PDF documents using scalable vector graphics (SVG). While it may not match the robustness of professional PDF editing tools, Inkscape allows users to import and export PDF files, enabling editing of text, shapes, and images within PDFs. This open source editor supports Linux, Windows, and Mac.


To edit a PDF using Inkscape, import the PDF file, and ensure that the "Import text as text" option is enabled. Subsequently, double-click on a text line to initiate editing, and finally save the file as a PDF.




PDF Xchange Editor (Windows Only)


PDF-XChange Editor provides free and paid versions, boasting over 300 features in the complimentary edition for diverse PDF tasks. It maintains continuous updates and iterations to ensure user data security. Regrettably, its availability is limited solely to Windows systems, posing a challenge for users on other platforms, such as Mac, who seek similar functionality in PDF editing software.






Scribus, an open-source desktop application, serves as a viable alternative to Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress, specifically tailored for layout, typesetting, and preparing files for professional-grade image setting equipment. Additionally, Scribus functions as a free and open-source PDF editor, enabling users to open and modify PDF documents by adding new text, lines, and shapes. While its user interface and certain functions may appear outdated, it remains a commendable option for PDF editing and viewing, particularly for users who prioritize functionality over modern aesthetics.






PDFescape offers both a web-based tool and a Windows PDF software for editing, filling out, and annotating PDF files online. With this web app, users can edit text, add images, and draw shapes on PDF documents. It's convenient for tasks like form filling and signing PDFs without specialized PDF editors. PDFescape’s basic version is free for files under 10MB and 100 pages, with an option to upgrade for more features.




Comparison Table


Having delved into the specifics of each gathered open-source PDF editor, we try to compare them across cost, platform compatibility, key features, and performance, aiming to assist you in making an informed decision.


PDF Editor Cost Compatibility Key Features Performance
Adobe Acrobat $239.88/yr for Pro

Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Web

- View, print, share, and comment

- Edit text and images, export, secure, and organize documents

- Collect legally binding e-signatures and track responses

- Create web forms, redact, compare, and access 70+ features

PDF Reader Pro $79.99 for lifetime Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

- Unlimited file conversion

- Rich annotation tools

- Edit PDF text, images

- Organize PDF pages

- Digital signature

- Batch process


- Fill & Create form

Inkscape Open source Windows, Mac, Linux

- Annotate a PDF

- Change words in a PDF

- Remove PDF texts, images, links, etc.

PDF Xchange Editor $56.00/yr


- Annotate, bookmark PDFs

- Convert PDFs to/ from other formats

- Create Fillable Forms

- Customize the Ul

- Edit and manage PDFs

- Integrate cloud-based services

- OCR content of PDFs

Scribus Open source Windows, Mac, Linux

- Create, read, and edit PDF files

- Annotate PDFs

PDFescape $35.88/yr for Premium Web, Windows

- Annotate and markup PDF files

- Fill and save PDF forms

- Edit PDF text and images in existing files

- Combine and extract PDF pages

- Convert PDF files to MS Word & other formats

- Watermark and page number PDFs

- Compress PDF file sizes

- Scan paper to PDF


Best PDF Editor Library


If the open source PDF editors mentioned above don't meet your requirements, consider using ComPDFKit, a PDF SDK solution, to build your own PDF editor. It powers the professional PDF Reader Pro and offers extensive PDF libraries supporting various platforms such as Web, Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Server, and cross-platform frameworks. Specifically tailored for developers, ComPDFKit enables seamless integration of both basic and advanced PDF functionalities and creates a free online Web Demo to experience all features. To simplify the processor of integration, ComPDFKit not only provides detailed and clear documentation but also gives 1-on-1 technical support. 




Reasons Why Choose ComPDFKit


Plentiful Features: Process PDF files with previews, annotations, signatures, document comparisons, form filling, content editing, encryption and decryption, data extraction, etc.


High Compatibility: ComPDFKit allows you to easily develop PDF editors in Windows, Web, UWP, Android, iOS, Mac, and Linux with C/C++, C#, Python, JavaScript, Java, and more. To know more, you can visit our documentation.


Continuous Iteration: To ensure PDF editing capabilities remain up-to-date and aligned with evolving industry standards and user needs, ComPDFKit regularly fixes bugs and adds new features.


Security Assurance: Trust in ComPDFKit's transparent security measures, providing clear documentation and protocols to safeguard your data and privacy while using the software.


Integrate Third-party Systems: Easily integrate ComPDFKit with other third-party systems such as Salesforce and SharePoint, enabling seamless interoperability and extending the functionality of your applications.




Open source PDF editors offer cost-effective solutions, community-driven development, customization options, transparency, and cross-platform compatibility. Embrace the freedom and flexibility of these tools to meet your PDF editing needs efficiently. This guide offers tips on selecting open-source PDF editors and highlights some popular choices. Based on these criteria, his article compares the PDF editors assisting in making an informed decision regarding PDF editors.

For users who want to build a PDF editor, ComPDFKit's PDF libraries stand out as the optimal choice. Explore our online tools and Web Demo to edit PDFs for free and experience the performance of ComPDFKit. Alternatively, sign up for a free ComPDFKit API account to process 1000 files per month.