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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Nitro PDF Professional 6

Compared to Foxit's plain, basic appearance, Nitro PDF Professional 6 certainly looks prettier. It borrows from Microsoft Office 2010's "ribbon" interface: Tools are spread across the top in tabs with labels like "Create and Convert," "Insert and Edit" and "Review." You click a category tab and then choose from functions within that category that are represented by big, bright icons.

Nitro PDF Professional 6 borrows from Microsoft Office's "ribbon" interface. Click to view larger image.

User interface: Vertical tabs run along the left side of the document (listing "Pages," "Bookmarks," "Signatures" and so on). If you click the "Pages" tab, for example, a frame will open and show you thumbnails of the pages of your document to help you scroll through them.

Furthering the tab interface motif, when you have more than one document loaded into the program, Nitro places each one under its own horizontal tab.

Working with PDFs: To edit a row of words, you double-click on the row and a blinking cursor appears. You can then move that cursor along the row and position it where you need to type in or delete text.

Nitro also lets you move, resize and otherwise manipulate text in a way that's similar to the way you do it in Foxit: If you click on a row of words, they will be surrounded by a frame marked with eight anchor points. You can then drag and drop the text row to another part of the document.

Clicking on and dragging any of the anchor points lets you stretch or shrink the height or width of the text. Like Foxit, Nitro also lets you change the text's height and width separately; these two aspects are not linked together to maintain the scale of the text's size, as they are in Adobe Acrobat X.

And there's a ninth anchor point set above the frame. When you click on and move it side to side with your mouse, you can rotate the selected row of text clockwise or counterclockwise.

Nitro's tools for resizing or repositioning graphics in a PDF document work the same as its text tools.

What works well: I liked the way Nitro handles multiple documents: You click on the tab of the document you want to switch to, like you do when clicking through the tabs of Web sites opened in a browser. This is a simple but useful feature that sets Nitro apart from the other three PDF editors in this roundup.

What needs fixing: Nitro PDF Professional 6 ran well, generally. But as I finished editing, the application would pause briefly -- apparently to process the new text and incorporate it into the document -- before returning full control back to me.

Bottom line: Nitro PDF Professional 6 is a good choice for people who like the Office 2010 ribbon interface, and its use of a tab interface will make editing among two or more open documents convenient.

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