Need a PDF app for Mac

Hey guys. I have been in school the last year and half. We use tons of PDFs or our work. I need to find something other than acrobat free version and preview. Anyone got any recommendations? I want full control of the pdf. I want to be able to create, annotate, fillout, etc pdfs. Thanks.

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I’d recommend PDF Pen. It has most (if not all) of the features of Adobe Acrobat in a much easier to use interface. Edit, sign, adjust images, etc. Plus you can download it on your iPad or iPhone and have the same experience. David and Katie covered this on a recent MPU episode 434 all about PDF workflows.


Yeah I listened to that one twice. I must have missed the Mac part of it both times. Thanks for the advice I’ll check it out.

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I second PDF Pen. I ran a demo of it and it’s capable of everything you’re looking for. It was a bit too much for my needs, so I didn’t follow through with the purchase.

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The only drawback to PDF Pen is the price (I think it’s $100?), which has kept me using Preview.

Oh… no, it’s $125. Yeah, Preview is good enough. If I really need PDF Pen Pro, I can use the iPad version.


I use pdfpenpro. Somehow I got it very cheap, through a MacDesktop bundle. It’s my Toto app for doing OCR too, although I’ve had some issues with certain documents that they were not able to duplicate. I still like the app though.

I recommend PDF Expert, which is currently on offer at

It does everything PDF Pen does except OCR, and is much faster (especially when scrolling through a PDF). I also much prefer the interface, personally.


Another vote for PDF Expert. Readle have a very strong suite of applications.

Yet another vote for PDF Expert. It has a very clean interface, both on the Mac and on iOS. Regular price, without a discount, is USD 60.

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You should qualify for Smile’s education discount. You have to buy directly from them, not from the App Store.

Right now, the education pricing for PDFpen 10 is $52.46; PDFpen Pro 10 is $87.47. These prices represent significant discounts form the regular prices.

Smile Education Pricing


I know a lot of folks on MPU are PDF Pen fans but I love PDF Expert as well. I have it on all my devices and think it’s great for the price. One of the things I like is that I can highly what I read and then export those notes to Evernote. That is a great feature for doing digital research.

Wow - that’s a great discount!

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I use PDF Expert on the iPad and love it, especially when used with the pencil. Years ago, I bought PDF Pen Pro for the Mac and while it is powerful, I don’t enjoy using it.


I’m in the same boat and another recommendation for PDF Expert.

I have PDFPenPro 8 and it doesn’t feel like I can truly “edit” my PDFs. It also feels unresponsive and everything is buried in menus. PDF Expert makes me feel like I’m really in control. It works so much better, and I can more authentically edit my PDFs. Worth the money for sure. I know PDFPenPro 10 has some improvements over 8, but none of them seem to tackle my issues.

I also recommend PDFPen on the Mac. I believe the standard version adds OCR capability and the Pro version steps up to batch OCR (someone pls correct me if I’m wrong). The Sweet Setup did a comparison that you can see by clicking here. But I have both PDFPen Pro and PDF Expert on my Mac bc I use PDF Expert on my iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. IMO PDF Expert is good but PDFPen Pro is more powerful.

Another vote for PDF expert. I have used it and PDFPen Pro - I prefer expert for its annotation feature set

Another STRONG +1 for PDF Expert.

Yet another +1 for PDF Expert. I’m not sure why we don’t hear more about this fantastic app. I used PDF Pen for years but switched to PDF Expert in early 2017 and haven’t looked back.

Something I noticed about my usage of a PDF editor: 98% of the time I’m just opening PDFs to reference something quickly or read page after page. So speed is at the top of my priority list. I also like clean non-distractive UIs, especially for reading for any extended period.

So why not just use the very quick-to-load Preview? Because of the other 2% of time spent with with PDFs when I need to sign, form fill, highlight, annotate or edit. I don’t want to have to switch to another app. Ideally my default app for PDFs would be the app for reading, editing, etc. PDF Expert let’s me do just that!

  • Clean UI (e.g. I love the new tab, everything’s right there but its minimal):
  • Fast to open, edit, etc.
  • Does everything I’ve ever needed
  • Easy to figure out without having to click and search the web
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I completely agree that PDF Expert has a simplified UI and easier design, but the lack of OCR is a non-starter for me. I’ve been running a paperless lifestyle for the last two years and can’t imagine doing it without OCR to find all my documents that I have filed away.

If and when PDF Expert adds OCR, I’ll make the change to that app but for now I’m still using PDF Pen.

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Great point on OCR & PDF Expert! I too am a fan of the paperless life. Forgot to include my experience on that front…

I thought I’d miss having OCR when moving over but was surprised to find I haven’t at all. (Of course, YMMV!)

ScanSnap (macOS) and Scanbot (iOS) OCR all my dead trees before they ever reach PDF Expert. (On iOS a lot of folks really like the integration between PDF Expert and Scanner Pro, also by Readdle, but there are a few Scanbot features I really love.)

All my other PDFs are already “natively digital” and therefore OCR’d (ebooks, manuals, white papers, financial statements, etc.) or become so by printing to PDF.

Finally, I use DEVONthink Pro Office (only the Pro Office edition includes OCR) as my OCR fallback plan if I ever were to need to get an OCR version of something not-so-modern.

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