A small part of us quite wanted to see Adobe Acrobat Pro’s throne usurped by one of the other PDF editors, but it’s the de facto standard for a reason. This, if you can stomach the price, is a simply fabulous piece of software.

Although it took the longest to install, users are immediately given the tools they’re most like to use on a daily basis: the highlighting, sticky notes and export functions sit front and centre, either on the main or right-hand toolbar. That means there’s no navigating through icon-strewn tabs in search of, say, OCR or watermarks.

Editing PDFs is a joy, with text boxes responding immediately to clicks and images moving around the page without a stutter. You can even tweak the character spacing and scaling – a product of Adobe’s position as the go-to for publishing professionals. 

You can create a PDF from pretty much every format you care to name, as well as from your scanner, a web page or content in your clipboard. Likewise, exporting to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, JPEG, TIFF, PNG, HTML, RTF, TXT and XML takes just a few clicks. 

Dig a little deeper and Adobe’s suitability for business use becomes abundantly clear. For instance, the Tracker tool lets you manage your PDF workflow, while a “Send for Comments” button allows you to type in an email address and ping off a file to a colleague or client, who doesn’t need an Adobe account.

Acrobat Pro’s OCR is outstanding, although enhancing pages and recognising text occasionally took longer than we’d like. It cleverly creates an on-the-fly font constructed from existing characters on the page, which meant we could create realistic-looking replacement text. The downside is when the characters aren’t there, Adobe uses an often clunky default instead. 

Privacy-wise, you can set a password, “Remove Hidden Information” – such as metadata, comments, hidden text and overlapping objects – and encrypt PDFs with either a certificate or password. You can even pretend you’re a Cold War spy by compiling a “Security envelope” containing multiple documents. 

So, after the best part of three decades, Acrobat Pro still leads the way, but it’s no longer alone: Nitro Pro and PDFelement are both notable – and cheaper – alternatives.

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