For years, a silent but present arms race has been going on between Apple’s Preview app and Adobe’s Acrobat Reader for PDF supremacy. The conflict arises whenever a user has to open and work with a PDF file on his Mac, the longstanding suggestion for Mac and Windows users is to download and install Adobe Reader.
Apple’s Preview app has come a long way with its PDF support, and for most people, it offers all the necessary tools. Adobe Acrobat may be the best application if you work with PDF files on a regular basis. Let’s take a look at the main differences between Apple Preview and Adobe Acrobat for PDF handling.
Apple’s preview app is free and included with macOS. It started out as a handy little off-road charting app and has become much more useful over the years.
We use Preview version 11.0 in macOS Monterey 12.4, which comes with editing tools that enable easy markup of PDF files, as outlined in this Apple support document. Some of the edits you can make to PDF files while using Preview include:
Easily delete or rearrange individual pages in a multi-page PDF file
Combine and add pages
Annotate and highlight specific text
Add shapes and text boxes
Fill out fillable PDF forms
Sign documents by creating a signature with your mouse, trackpad, or pen
It’s not the perfect editing tool for editing PDF files outside of Adobe Acrobat, but it gets you there and removes some of the need to sign up for Adobe’s subscription-based service.
Plus, the preview loads fast and opens just about every file format you can throw at it, including some amazing formats like Adobe Illustrator, EPS, FAX, Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Photoshop, RAW, and TIFF. Many of the edits you can make to PDF files using Markup can also be made to image files, and there are other image editing tools such as color adjustments (exposure, contrast, saturation, sharpness, and more) that can be used.
Preview is an excellent tool for opening and exporting files to almost any file format. For example, you can open a TIFF and convert it to a JPEG. While Preview does not currently open the .webp graphics file format (and neither does Adobe Acrobat), this can be fixed by removing the “webp” file extension from the file name and changing it to “jpg”, “gif”, or whatever. file format that works best for you.
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, Standard DC and Pro DC
Adobe offers three applications for PDF files. Acrobat Reader DC, Acrobat Standard DC, and Acrobat Pro DC. First, here are quick summaries of each app, then we’ll dive deeper.
Acrobat Reader CC: This app is more like Apple Preview, but it has a smaller set of features. It allows you to read, comment, sign and print PDF files. It also keeps track of feedback annotations. That’s it. It’s free.
Acrobat Standard CC: This app had more authoring tools than Reader DC such as editing tools, export tools, and more. $13 per month.
Acrobat Pro DC: Even more authoring tools than Standard DC, including comparison tools, conversion of scanned documents to PDF, and more. $15 per month.
Although Acrobat Reader DC and Acrobat Standard/Pro DC are tied to Adobe’s subscription programs, there are a lot of good things to say about them. The speed of Reader has improved in recent versions, and while Reader brings back memories of the absolute necessity of downloading and installing Adobe’s Creative Cloud software to have any hope of opening a critical PDF file, the current versions of Reader DC and Acrobat Standard/ Pro DC can open and export to an impressive variety of file formats, including Microsoft Word documents, text files, HTML files, Corel WordPerfect files, OpenOffice and StarOffice files, 3D files, Autodesk AutoCAD files, Microsoft Project and a variety of video formats.
However, Adobe has an annoying subscription request alert regardless of which Acrobat DC application you use. When you open your first PDF file in Acrobat, and unless you make a decision and click the “Don’t show this message again” box, Acrobat DC will strive to become your default application for opening and working with PDF files, your Follow-up ads promote subscriptions to the Adobe Acrobat DC platform to gain access to editing, markup, export, and security features for your documents. This embedded advertising can drive users crazy.
A subscription to Adobe Acrobat Standard or Pro DC allows you to cleanly markup and edit PDF files and be part of a suite that works well with other Adobe programs like Illustrator, Lightroom, InDesign and others. Your subscription fee allows access to features such as editing PDF files, adding comments, text recognition, converting files to PDF format, and signing features such as requesting signatures, creating areas of a file Signable PDFs and form creation have become staples. web based business.
If your infrequent needs for PDF editing tools make Adobe’s subscription fee seem excessive, there are other applications that allow comprehensive editing of PDF files and offer one-time software payment. Skim works as a free and open source PDF reader and editor, and Smile Software’s excellent PDFpen adds a full suite of PDF editing and markup tools for a one-time payment of $80.
If your PDF needs are limited to filling out forms, signing documents, and other basic functions, Preview should suffice and is on every Mac. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is free but has a smaller feature set than Preview.
But while Apple has gone undercover and taken over much of Adobe Acrobat’s functionality in recent years, Adobe has become an iconic brand for professionals. If your PDF needs are more production-oriented and happen on a regular basis, then you can use the tools offered in Adobe Acrobat Standard or Pro DC.