The 5 Best Free and Open-Source PDF Editors

Should you be spending a dime on apps for editing your PDFs? We don't think so. Here are the best free and open-source PDF editors for Linux, Windows, and macOS.

It is often the case that professionals prefer using the Portable Document Format (PDF) for all their official documents, whether it be school certificates, job letters, or important announcements. The reason why this file format is loved so much could be attributed to the fact that its formatting doesn’t get altered on any device and not to mention, it leaves a digital footprint on being edited, which isn’t the case with other file formats such as .docx, .txt, or .rtf.

Although PDFs can be easily created with software with a bunch of apps, you’d need separate tools if you want to edit them. Adobe Acrobat is one such option, but we have to tell you that it’s neither free nor open-source. So, if you’re not interested in purchasing a PDF editing software, you’ve headed to the right article. Today, we are going to be having a look at some of the best free and open-source PDF editors that you can find in 2020.

Best Free & Open Source PDF Editors

We can’t really argue about the fact that there are a plethora of PDF editors that you can find in the open-source market. Still, the real problem is that most of them won’t either be truly open-source or have all the functionalities you’ll need for editing your files. Considering this, we’ve done a ton of research and only included those options that are sure to meet your needs.

1. PDFSam

PDFSam Basic Edition

If you’re wanting to edit your PDFs without paying a single penny, then you can’t go wrong by opting for the basic version of PDFSam. This open-source software provides you with all the features that you would require when editing for your PDFs. Courtesy of this software, users will be able to add and delete pages. Not only that, but it also allows you to split and merge PDF files, which is a feature you won’t find in many open-source PDF editors out there. Although these features would suffice for most of your PDF editing needs, the software comes with a few additional features that allow you to extract PDF pages and even rotate them.

In case you’ve made up your mind about going for PDFSam, there is one thing you should know. PDFSam comes in three versions: Basic, Enhanced, and Visual. In this article, we’ve discussed all the features of the basic version, which is entirely free. However, if you want to get your hands on other features such as file conversion, OCR, and digital signatures, then you might want to take a look at the different versions of this software that happen to be paid.

Although PDFSam supports Windows, macOS, and Linux, it still requires your system to have Java installed. Once you’ve got that covered, PDFSam will be a safe option to go for. Other than that, there’s a CLI version of this software as well if you need not a graphical interface for editing PDF files.

Download PDFSam Basic

2. LibreOffice

LibreOffice Draw 6.2
LibreOffice Draw 6.2

There’s no doubt in saying that LibreOffice is one of the best software that the open-source world has to offer. Many people consider it to be an equal of Microsoft Office, while others think that it’s even better. Well, as you’d know that LibreOffice is more than just a word processor; it comes with a variety of tools, which include LibreOffice Draw. Although this tool is mainly for producing diagrams and graphics, what most people don’t know of is the fact that it can be a pretty robust PDF editor as well.

Apart from allowing users to create their PDFs, they also add and delete pages with this handy software. What most users look for when choosing a PDF editor is the ability to edit text and images in the file. Luckily, LibreOffice Draw not only lets you do that but also add tables and change the formatting of the file. And, when you are finally done editing the file and opt for the ‘Export as PDF’ option, you will be presented with a bunch of other features such as adding a digital signature, setting permissions and encryption, and singing with watermark.

On the downside, LibreOffice fails to provide some features like splitting and merging PDF files, which could be necessary for a lot of users. With that being said, if you’re all right without them, then there’s no stopping you from giving a shot to LibreOffice Draw, which also happens to be available on all Windows, macOS, and Linux-based systems.

Download LibreOffice

3. Inkscape


Although most people know of Inkscape as a vector graphics tool, what could be surprising to some is the fact that it also allows users to edit their PDFs. Courtesy of Inkscape, you will not only be able to read these files but also change their images and text. Besides, the tool also makes it possible to convert your PDFs into PNG format. And, the best thing about is probably the fact that users can perform all these PDF editing tasks without having to learn how to use the software. Yes, Inkscape is that easy to use.

Since the target demographic for Inkscape mainly consists of graphics designers, you would find a couple of PDF editing features missing from the software. But, if you’re satisfied with all its provided features, Inkscape is worth a shot. Not to mention, the software can be easily installed on all popular operating systems like Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Download Inkscape

4. Apache OpenOffice Draw

Apache OpenOffice Draw

Another software that takes pride in being open-source if Apache OpenOffice. Just like other office suites, Apache OpenOffice also comes with a variety of tools, one of which allows users to manipulate their PDF files. Yes, we’re talking about Draw.

With the help of this tool, users can perform some basic PDF editing tasks, such as making changes in the text and images of their files. Apart from that, the software also has a feature with which you can export your PDF files into different available file formats. Another useful feature that you’d love is Draw’s spellchecker, which lets you make sure that your PDF file doesn’t have any errors in it. Lastly, similar to other entries on our list, Apache OpenOffice fully supports all Linux, macOS, and Windows-based systems.

Download OpenOffice

5. PDFedit


Now, this is another powerful software that lets you make changes to your PDF files. However, the best thing about PDFedit is the fact that it is entirely free and open-source, so you need not worry about buying a paid version to use all its features. With this software, you can even say goodbye to your old PDF reader since PDFedit can also do a pretty good job at that. As for its basic editing features, users can change the text and images of their PDF files and even convert them into other file formats. Other than that, if you happen to prioritize the security of your files, PDFedit also lets you lock your files with a password. Plus, with PDFedit, extracting information from PDF files becomes a possibility as well.

All in all, PDFedit is a worthy open-source PDF editor for those who aren’t looking to perform tasks such as merging and splitting their PDF files. However, users of both Windows and Linux-based systems can make use of this software.

Download PDFedit


If you’ve gone through this article, you’d agree that basic PDF editing is indeed possible with open-source software. Not only that, but you can perform complex operations on your file as well if you’re willing to spend a few bucks on the paid version of one of these applications. Lastly, if you also know of any other option, head to the comment section below and share with us your experience using it.

Zohaib Ahsan
Hi! I'm Zohaib Ahsan, contributor to FOSS Linux. I'm studying computer science, I’ve learned a thing or two about operating systems that are based on Linux. This has made me join FOSS Linux where I can share what I have learned with the rest of the world. Not to mention — some major tea is going to be spilled as well — as I share with you the latest developments in the world of Linux.


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