PDF Architect 8 review: A PDF editor for every need

PDF Architect is by far the most unique PDF program we have come across. It is offered as a free download and in three different paid packages, each containing a specific set of PDF tools that it calls “modules”. As you move up through the payout levels, more and more of these add-ons are unlocked, increasing the editing power you have on your PDFs.

The “create” module, for example, allows you to read existing PDFs and convert a multitude of document types into the format. It also allows you to merge PDFs and move and delete pages into a single PDF. As a basic module, it is available with all four plans. The “edit” module is where you can really start to manipulate PDF content, and as such, it’s only available under the three paid plans. The high-level PRO + OCR plan gives you the most robust PDF editor, including all the authoring, editing, converting and reviewing capabilities offered by PDF Architect 8, as well as optical character recognition.

This review is part of our best PDF editors roundup. Go there to learn more about our testing and how all of the competitors performed.

PDF Architect uses an Office-style ribbon interface. The tools are organized in a series of tabs at the top according to their function: converting, editing, commenting, etc. PDF files open in the document pane, and additional tools allow you to browse the current document by page, thumbnail, bookmark, link, or text search.

pdf architect 8Michael Ansaldo / IDG

PDF Architect 8 is built on modules that activate its different capabilities. You unlock more as you move up through the price points.

You can create PDFs from scanned documents or from the most common file formats. PDF Architect also supports one-click conversion of PDF files to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML, text and image formats. I was able to accurately reproduce documents in all of these formats during my testing. Batch conversion is also supported.

PDF Architect 8 includes a full suite of tools for highlighting, underlining, and crossing out text. You can also annotate documents with comments or the customizable stamp tool and draw on the document freehand or with a selection of preset shapes. If a document contains sensitive data that you don’t want certain recipients to see, you can secure all or part of the PDF with password encryption, permissions, redaction, or digital signatures.

A particular benefit for business settings is an optional electronic signature feature that allows you to send and track documents for electronic signatures directly in PDF Architect. There are two ways to send a signature: For a simple document, you can quickly add a signature field to the PDF and send it for a single signer. For complex documents where multiple signatures may be required, you can prepare a custom workflow that details steps such as the order signatures to be performed and the deadlines for each signature. PDF Architect also lets you see who signed and which signatures are still missing so you can better manage the process.

pdf architect 8 2 Michael Ansaldo / IDG

The free version of PDF Architect 8 allows you to read, create and merge PDFs.

PDF Architect Standard, which includes all the features of the free version and adds Edit, Convert, and Page modules, costs $ 79 per year for a single user. PDF Architect Professional adds Review / Comment, Secure and Forms modules and costs $ 99 per year. PDF Architect Pro + OCR includes everything in the professional version and adds the ability to scan documents to editable PDFs and convert images in PDFs to editable text and make them searchable. It costs $ 149 per year. Each plan includes unlimited free upgrades, free support, and the ability to run PDF Architect 8 on three computers per user.

The electronic signature function must be purchased separately. A 14-day free trial is automatically activated when you sign up for a plan. After expiration, you can either purchase 10 electronic signature packs or use the electronic signature as an annual subscription.

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