Unlike the other editors in this list, you can use Sejda for free indefinitely, but the caveats are numerous: you can only perform three tasks per day, can’t handle PDFs over 50MB or 200 pages in length, and can only convert documents one by one. That may work if you only do occasional editing, but most users would be better off with the paid-for version.

Sejda’s sleek interface condenses everything you’re likely to need into the All Tools dropdown menu, with a healthy selection to peruse. Our eye was drawn to the OCR capability, which works well. In our challenging ancient NME test, it gave us searchable, copyable text. Granted, it needed formatting when pasted into a Word doc, but that’s to be expected.

The file-compress function is similarly smooth. Depending on the size of the document, you’re presented with a screen indicating that “Your task is processing” for anywhere from a couple of seconds to a few minutes. In the latter scenario, Sejda compressed an image-heavy PDF of a magazine cover from 2.92MB to 411KB with no discernable impact on readability. Impressive stuff.

Sejda didn’t conduct image-heavy editing as successfully as PDFelement, with text on our test file popping out of alignment or changing colour when clicked, but those slight deficiencies are balanced out by practical, everyday tools such as digital signatures, “whiteout” (Tipp-Ex to us Brits), easy annotations, form creation and text replacement.

As well as the usual conversion to Word, TXT, JPG and Excel files, Sejda has a few more tricks up its sleeve: quickly turning a PDF greyscale will be a boon to users looking to save ink, while the ability to “flatten” a document à la Photoshop will seal in any edits. And there’s plenty to please small businesses here, with support for Bates numbering, watermarks, PDF unlocking and password protection. You can even use the software to repair a damaged or corrupted PDF, which may not be a common occurrence but is a neat fail-safe.

All of this makes Sejda an attractive proposition for individuals and small businesses. PDFelement is still the better upfront purchase, but keep in mind that Sejda’s rolling annual subscription ($63) provides access to the web-based PDF editor, which could be a clincher for users on Chromebooks or tablets.

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