There are so many document formats in the world, but PDF is something special. It was developed in 1990s by Adobe and still maintains the top position when it comes to cross-platform document formats. Many file formats have come and gone, but PDF doesn’t seem old at all.
Even so, we cannot say the same when it comes to PDF editing solutions. Because Adobe Creative Cloud isn’t a choice everyone can afford, we all look for other PDF editors out there. Built-in software — like Preview in macOS — don’t work so great either.
And, when we covered the best PDF editors for macOS, PDFpenPro was the upgrade pick. We found that the tool was offering so many features users were looking for — at a fraction of what you’d pay for Adobe. Now, the latest version of PDFpen and PDFpenPro are released and we wanted to talk about them both.
In this article, we will have a quick but comprehensive review of PDFpen and PDFpenPro 11. Instead of simply listing the new features, we will talk about the revamped PDF editing and PDF creating experience. Hope it will help you choose this product with more insight.
What is new in PDFpen and PDFpenPro 11?
Before we go deep into the review, we will have a quick look at the new features offered by PDFpen 11 and PDFpenPro 11. One thing we love about Smile Software is that they listen to customers. Most of the newly-added features were either requested or highly in demand. The developers also try to bring features we do normally see in Adobe Acrobat Pro. This time, however, there is a lot of innovation.
Split View Mode
Have you ever wanted to compare two different parts of the same article and make edits? Well, you can do that using the brand-new Split View Mode in PDFpen and PDFpenPro. This is way different from opening two different documents at the same time.
As you can see in the image, there are two views of the same document. However, you can navigate within individual documents. For instance, one of the windows is on 20th page while the other is on 29th. Would you like to know the best part? The edits you make are reflected instantly.
PDFpen also lets you adjust the viewing space according to your convenience. There are also options to make sure that you can select the right pages on Main View and Split view separately. You can also stack the two windows either vertically or horizontally.
You can enable this by going to Window -> Split -> choose Vertically or Horizontally.
Taking care of the right fonts is very important when editing a PDF document. If you are making a newsletter for instance, the bad font selection can be catastrophic. This could be the reason why PDFpen 11 is bringing a dedicated Font Bar.
You can enable this feature by going to View and choosing Show Font Bar. Now, when you select a piece of text, you can change the various aspects of the text, such as the Font, Boldness, Font Size, Alignment and of course Underline.
This is a pretty great feature while creating a newsletter or a whitepaper.
Continuity Camera Support
If you are using an iOS device, you need no introduction to Continuity Camera. This feature, introduced in macOS Mojave, is now coming to PDFpen and PDFpenPro 11. It means you can directly import images and documents you have captured using your iPhone or iPad camera.
When you want to insert something this way, you can go to File -> Import from iPhone or iPad and choose the device you need. Now, you can see the Prompt on the selected device, and you have to complete capture there.
We’ve wanted this feature for some time, and it’s great that PDFpen has included it.
Custom Page Number Locations
When you are making a brand-new PDF document, you may want to experiment with where you place the page numbers. Don’t worry, PDFpen and PDFpenPro now have the ability to do this, through an incredibly simple method.
To do this, you have to go to Edit Header, Footer, Page Numbers Insert. In the Advanced Section sub-menu, you can decide where the Page Number would appear. For properly placing the page number, you’ll have to experiment with some numbers, though.
On any day, it’s a great feature for designers.
While these are the big changes we loved, there are some minor yet notable improvements too:
OCR has become so better, thanks to the addition of medical and legal dictionaries. You can now OCR documents with more confidence.
In PDFpenPro, you can now fill multiple form elements at the same time. Of course, you must have the compatible form elements in the document.
PDFpen now also lets you set default zoom levels, sidebar customization etc.
As we said earlier, most of these features were requested by customers and PDFpen seems to be quite good at addressing these concerns.
PDFpen 11 and PDFpen Pro 11: first impressions review
Now you have a clear idea on the new features we found and loved in PDFpen and PDFpenPro 11. We will go ahead and have a first impressions review of what these PDF editors have to offer.
Getting started with PDFpen doesn’t require much previous experience. Nevertheless, if you want to make some advanced changes in the document, prior experience would be a nice addition. For basic tasks, you do not have to worry.
You can open PDF documents in PDFpen via different methods. First, you can right-click on PDF file and pick PDFpen or PDFpenPro from the Open with options. Second, you can open PDFpen and choose the file from the Finder dialogue box. It’s also great that you can open other formats like Word and Excel via PDFpen. The PDF editor will instantly convert the document into editable PDF though.
Once you have opened a file, there are so many options inside PDFpen. As you can see, there is a sidebar to show where you are amidst the pages. You can navigate here and even add blank pages in-between existing PDF pages.
And, then when you are ready to begin editing, you can zoom in and select the elements.
Editing PDF Documents
If editing PDF documents was one of your nightmares, PDFpen and PDFpenPro will change that. It does not matter what you want to do — be it changing text, removing text, removing images or inserting new set of elements — everything is possible from the toolbox bar. And, as we had shown you, you can toggle some of the options too.
PDFpen and PDFpenPro have dedicated options for all types of content. For instance, in the case of an image, you will be able to adjust the various aspects and even add some filters. If we’re talking about text, you can alter the font, size and alignment among other things. As we did earlier, you can manage page-level structure of the document via the sidebar itself.
Customization is indeed the strongest point of PDFpen and PDFpenPro. The level of power is present in the case of PDF editing as well as the software itself.
Creating PDF Documents
What people normally do is create a Word document and export the same to PDF. While you can do that via PDFpen, there are better methods. Most importantly, you will be able to create a PDF document from scratch — from blank page. You can insert various elements like text, images, shapes and more to the content and then export everything.
One of the newly-added features, custom page number location, would also help you design the PDF doc in the best way you can. Altogether, if you are ready to take some effort, you can craft a good-looking PDF file using PDFpen or PDFpenPro. The whole UI would also assist you in having an overall view of the document, anytime.
Last but not least, there are no compatibility issues of any sort. Once you have mad the document, you will be able to export it to almost every format, including but not limited to MS Word, JPEG, PNG and Flattened PDF as well.
In short, making PDF documents from scratch becomes the best thing when you have PDFpen.
Some Additional Features Worth Noting
There are a huge number of features inside PDFpen to make the PDF editing process seamless. However, we think some of them surely deserve a mention here.
Sync via Dropbox or iCloud: PDFpen lets you keep working on your PDF document from many devices you may have. You can keep everything in sync by saving your documents on cloud. As of now, it has support for Dropbox and iCloud, which are enough if you have the macOS and iOS versions of PDFpen or PDFpenPro.
OCR at Best: PDFpen has packed so many features to make sure that the OCR process is accurate and effective at the same time. It does not matter if you are scanning a camera capture or something you have scanned via dedicated scanners. PDFpen will make sure that the optical characters are detected at the best level. Recently, the team has added legal and medicine dictionaries as well.
Redaction and Form Support: Do you want to make sure that people don’t see sensitive information present in a document? Or, you want help in quickly filling form elements? In either case, PDFpen or PDFpenPro will have an option to help you. Both these features are regularly upgraded to offer you the best experience overall.
If you are purchasing PDFpenPro, you will have some additional features apart from all these. You’ll be, for instance, able to create forms inside PDF documents that work across platforms. You can also convert a whole webpage to a PDF document in a single click. You would also find it easy to create PDF portfolios in no time.
And, if you have PDFpenPro, you can export the final PDF file to PowerPoint or Excel formats as well.
Availability and pricing
PDFpen and PDFpenPro and the standard and professional versions of the tool respectively.
While PDFpen offers a standard PDF editing experience, PDFpenPro goes a step further to include options like OCR and PDF authoring options. In addition, you can get PDFpen for iOS, which brings PDF editing to iPhone and iPad. There is also another tool called PDFpen Scan+, which is available for iPad and iPhones.
PDFpen for macOS costs you $74.95 while the PDFpenPro is priced at $124.95. In case you are interested, you can get PDFpen and PDFpen Scan+ for iOS for $19.99 and $6.99 respectively.
By the way, PDFpen is also available via Setapp. As you saw, all products from PDFpen range are reasonably priced. It should be noted that these tools are one-time purchases, not subscription.
You can download and use a free trial of both these versions.
The bottom line
So, you have seen our overview of PDFpen and PDFpenPro 11 and the review of the software. There is no doubt that PDFpen and PDFpen are the best PDF editors in town when you need more control over the edit process. And, in fact, all the new features in the latest version are making them way more awesome. We did love the Split View mode for instance. So, if you want to improve how you deal with PDF editing, make sure you upgrade as soon as you can.