Acrobat and its alternatives: 4 ways to edit PDFs

Which are the best, and cheapest, ways to edit your PDF documents?

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Foxit PDF Editor 2.2

The free Foxit PDF reader is a lightweight alternative to Adobe's PDF reader. Foxit PDF Editor 2.2 carries on this tradition -- it lets you edit your existing PDF documents quickly and easily.

User interface: When you load a PDF document, the page you're working on is displayed in the center of the application; any bookmarks the document contains are set in a column to the page's left; and the properties of the specific page being displayed -- or of the row of text you've selected -- appear in a right-hand column. This properties column shows stats such as the size of the page and, for the row of text selected, the font name, size and color, plus the row's position on the page.

Working with PDFs: Text editing in Foxit works differently than it does in Adobe Acrobat X Standard.

When you double-click on a row of text, the application switches to a new screen that displays the page and row you selected. You then position the cursor to the point where you want to enter or delete text. When you're finished with your edits, the application saves your edits and returns you to its main window, showing you your document once again but with your changes in place.

When you select rows of words or a graphic, the selected area is surrounded by a rectangular border marked with eight anchor points. By clicking, holding and dragging any of these points, you can resize the height and width of the row of words or graphic.

Unlike Acrobat, Foxit lets you change text height and width independently of one another. So if you want to, you can stretch or shrink the height or width of your text to the extreme. This feature may not be useful when editing formal documents, but it could be handy if you're changing a page where text is presented more as a design element.

You can rotate text or images by clicking the center of the selected object, which turns the anchor points into arrows indicating clockwise/counterclockwise and side-to-side directions.

What works well: Foxit runs very quickly -- impressively so. I never felt slowed by performance issues.

What needs fixing: Foxit switches to another screen for each line of text you want to edit, and then it switches back again when you're finished. As a result, if you have several lines of text to edit, it will switch back and forth each time, which I found very distracting. Also, unlike Acrobat, Foxit lacks thumbnail previews of pages to help you navigate through your document.

Bottom line: Foxit PDF Editor 2.2's zippiness and surprisingly small installation file size (just over 4MB) make it ideal if you only need to make occasional changes to PDF documents, and especially if you're using an older or slower computer.

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