Best Open Source PDF Editors: Editor Picks of 2020

Open Source PDF EditorIf you think that any PDF editing software is always pricey, we present you the list of open source PDF editors that can be used at zero cost.

PDF files are some of the most widely used file types for business. Viewing and sending PDF files is relatively easy – there is a myriad of free PDF readers available. Examples including Acrobat Reader, Google Drive, Nitro Reader, and Foxit Reader. Furthermore, you can freely send PDF files as email attachments or even via instant messaging on your smartphone.

One of the harder things to do, however, is to edit PDF files. To edit a PDF file you can convert it into a different file format like a Word document, edit it, and then convert it back into a PDF. This obviously can be a long-winded process.

If you want a simpler solution, you could use an open source PDF editor instead. PDF editors allow you to open and alter the PDF filer format without converting it into a different format first. These programs are often easy to use and excellent tools for those who regularly use and modify PDF files in their daily work.

If you feel you would benefit from such a program, we have listed the best open source PDF editors available that are completely free to use – enjoy!

1. LibreOffice Draw — multifunctional free PDF editor

LibreOffice Draw

LibreOffice is an excellent suite of office tools that includes open source PDF editor. LibreOffice is the direct competitor to Microsoft Office but also has PDF editing software built-in. It has a basic interface that looks a little outdated, but it also has an impressive array of tools to edit a PDF. Using LibreOffice, you can quickly and effectively edit your PDF files.

To use the free PDF editor you must utilize the draw feature – this uses a vector graphics editor but also recognizes text. When an existing PDF file is open, you can manipulate existing items easily – you can re-position, delete, copy – basically transform them in anyway. Furthermore, where possible, LibreOffice Draw recognizes font styles if they are installed on your computer.

OS: Windows, MAC, Linux
File Size: 298 MB
Our Rating: 10 / 10

Pros Cons
  • Brilliant detection for existing PDF layouts
  • Great range of tools to edit PDF for free
  • Auto-detects existing PDF elements
  • Interface looks outdated
  • Limited exporting options available

2. Apache OpenOffice Draw – free PDF editor and PDF creator

Apache OpenOffice Draw

This fantastic open source PDF editor has so much more to offer than just as a regular PDF editing software. You can create PDF documents from scratch and export them to different file formats too.

Furthermore, the software has a myriad of tools to edit PDF similar to Microsoft Word – you have full control over the PDF editing process and can insert images and text quickly. Moreover, you can easily change the layout of pages and utilize a myriad of font styles, colors, and sizes.

We like the functionality Apache OpenOffice Draw provides; it may look a little dated but it performs excellently both as a PDF editor and as PDF maker.

OS: Windows, MAC, Linux
File Size: 134 MB
Our Rating: 9 / 10

Pros Cons
  • Brilliant range of tools to edit PDF
  • Can save PDF files as different formats too
  • Can be used as a basic PDF reader too
  • Does require a steep learning curve

3. InkScape– best PDF editor to add and edit graphic


InkScape is an all-encompassing open source PDF editor that can be used for a myriad of purposes. One of its main features, however, is to edit PDF documents. When importing PDF files, you are given extensive options as to how the document is rendered – this provides greater control.

Furthermore, once a PDF file is loaded to this free PDF Editor for Windows, Mac and Linux, it detects different sections of the file and layout that you can quickly move and chance. The tools to edit PDF files are excellent – you are given a full editing pallet and can add text, images, and drawings to your documents.

Generally InkScape is easy to use although it can crash sometimes according to the community of the users of this free PDF editor. Furthermore, it is sometimes laggy and can feel sluggish when editing detailed PDF files.

OS: Windows, MAC, Linux
File Size: 88.3 MB
Our Rating: 8 / 10

Pros Cons
  • Simple and easy to use open source PDF editor
  • Quick editing process
  • Can export to different file formats
  • Allows for quick movement of existing document items
  • Can crash sometimes during usage
  • Sometimes has slow performance

4. PDFedit— free PDF Editor for Windows


If you want a simple program to edit PDFs then PDFedit is a great choice. This open source PDF editor does not automatically detect existing layout features – to edit the document you must draw new items over the existing template. This can make it a little frustrating to use at times.

Due to this approach to PDF editing, PDFedit is best used to make simple changes to PDF documents. If you want to make extensive changes, or change existing layouts, one of the other top open source PDF editors listed is a better choice.

OS: Windows
File Size: 8 MB
Our Rating: 7 / 10

Pros Cons
  • Simple editing interface
  • Fast PDF editor that runs smoothly
  • Debug option to remove errors
  • Does not automatically detect existing layouts
  • Available on Windows only

5. PDFsam Basic – PDF editor that can manage PDF pages


PDFsam Basic is an open source PDF editor that doesn’t offer editing contents of the PDF files but can edit PDF pages. It has an easy to use interface and a host of quick options you can choose from to start editing your PDF document like merge, split, mix, rotate and extract pages. These tools are also easy to use and you are given a step-by-step guide on how to use each one.

If you don’t need to edit PDF text and the contents of the PDF files then PDFsam Basic would suit your needs. The interface of this free PDF editor is neat and intuitive.

OS: Windows, Mac, Linux
File Size: 8 MB
Our Rating: 6 / 10

Pros Cons
  • Excellent tools for merging, and splitting PDF files
  • Clean user-interface
  • Not a full featured PDF editor

A tool such as an open source PDF editor is invaluable for day-to-day business usage. Using a free PDF editor with the GNU GPL license this enables you to increase your workflow and have much more flexibility when dealing with PDF files. Moreover thanks to the licensing such PDF editing software can be used absolutely free of charge. If you do need to convert PDF files remember that there is a myriad of free PDF converters available too which you can read about in our list of the best free PDF converters.

One thought on “Best Open Source PDF Editors: Editor Picks of 2020

  1. The PDF (Portable Document Format) file format has become the de-facto standard for sharing and viewing documents, whether they’re electronic business documents, scanned documents, or old-fashioned paper documents that have been scanned to digital files. Thanks, icecreamapps for posting these 5 most popular open-source PDF editors.

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