Iwould like to start this review with a disclaimer.
PDF Expert has been my go-to PDF editor for more than a year.
I truly like this piece of software from Readdle. Compared to other PDF editors I have tried, PDF Expert offers more features and enhanced stability — in an easy-to-use package. Although macOS Sonoma packs many PDF editing-focused features, they are not always enough.
So, when I heard the developers launched a new version of PDF Expert, optimized for macOS Sonoma, I was excited to give it a try.
I have been testing the latest version of PDF Expert for almost a week. And here is a brief review of what Readdle has done with the latest version of its popular PDF editor.
About PDF Expert
PDF Expert is one of the most popular PDF editors for Mac, iPad, and iPhone. It allows you to edit, annotate, sign, convert, and merge PDF documents with ease. It also lets you manage many PDF documents efficiently. In all these subsections, you can find tens and hundreds of features.
For instance, you can convert PDFs to other formats like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Compared to many other PDF editors, PDF Expert packs a minimalistic UI and many features. You can use the tool to manage all your digital signatures, add stamps, and even integrate audio notes. There are many drawing options as well.
But, wait, a lot more is coming in PDF Expert.
What’s new in PDF Expert 2023?
The latest version of PDF Expert packs several features that optimize the PDF reader for macOS Sonoma. We will take a brief look at these features and the other changes in the newest package before we go through a hands-on review.
Spotlight actions on PDF Expert are useful when you want to access the main features without spending time on the app. It means you can start seeing the potential options as soon as you search for PDF export through Spotlight Search.
While the navigation process within PDF Expert does not take a lot of time, it is great that you can jump to the specific action right from the search results. At the end of the day, you save a couple of seconds, but if you do these tasks regularly, it will be a time saver indeed.
We found Spotlight suggestions more appealing while using PDF Expert on iPad and iPhone. The transitions between the main app interface and target actions are impressively quick. So, when you are in a rush to deal with a PDF document, Spotlight actions are helpful.
Among the many features that PDF Expert comes with, the widget support is something great to look forward to if you have a macOS Sonoma running Mac. You get a widget with quick options such as converting to PDF, merging PDF, compressing PDF, and signing PDF documents.
You can explore these options without opening the app, which is great. If you are someone who wants to use these features very frequently, the widget on the desktop is a true time saver. We found it particularly useful because it is better than opening PDF export from a huge list of apps we have installed on our Mac.
The latest version of PDF Expert is also designed to help you make the best out of this PDF editor. It means the software will give you a lot of tips and suggestions as you load a PDF document. With the help of these suggestions, you can make the best use of the editing, signing and annotation features even if you don’t have much experience with similar tools in the past.
Therefore, if you are getting started with PDF Expert and want to make the best out of the experience, you will love the inclusion of this feature in the latest version. In our experience, these tips were particularly useful while exploring the less common features such as annotations and outline creation.
We also noticed that the latest version comes with a lot of UI improvements. For instance, now you can find a dedicated section called tools where you will be able to perform common tasks. For instance, when you want to convert a PDF document into another format or sign a PDF, you can do it very quickly.
You also get an option to choose between tasks for organizing, optimizing, protecting, reviewing and creating PDF documents. We also noticed that the multi-tab interface of PDF Expert has been further optimized in this version. It feels very smooth to shift between multiple tabs and documents.
The viewing options within PDF Expert have also been improved and the sidebar comes in handy more often than we expected. For instance, you will be able to shift between annotations and thumbnails with ease. In short, the UI improvements have made PDF Expert one of the best options out there.
PDF Expert: a hands-on review
So, we discussed the core features of the new version of PDF Expert for Mac.
Now, let’s see how these features improve the overall editing process.
Readdle has kept the simple installation process for PDF Expert. You can download the installation file from the official website or App Store. Either way, you can complete the installation process in a few seconds. As soon as you open PDF Expert, you can see the gorgeous User Interface.
We highly recommend that you use the Dark Mode.
On the main screen, you can also find quick buttons for popular actions. Or, you can open a PDF document using the File Browser. Alternatively, if you have already worked with PDF documents, you can launch them from the Recents menu.
Using PDF Expert
I cannot possibly take you through all the features in the PDF Expert package. So instead, I will talk about the experience of using PDF Expert to Annotate, Edit, Scan & OCR, and Export.
It could perhaps be the most feature-rich subsection of PDF Expert. In the Annotate subsection, you get to explore various tools and services. Some of them are:
- Highlight text
- Underline text
- Strikethrough text
- Pen tool
- Eraser tool
- Text tool
- Shapes tool
You can use these tools to add/make changes to the PDF document. For each tool, you get plenty of options for customization. For instance, you can adjust the color of the text, strike-through, or underline. If you want to add new text or shapes, you can do it quickly.
There are also some extra tools you’d need if you deal with PDF documents a lot.
- The Note tool allows you to place note snippets throughout the PDF document
- The Stamp tool lets you place standard/custom stamps on the PDF document
- The Sign tool is a blessing when you want to sign documents.
You can find room for customization in each of these tools, which is useful.
This is where you should go if you want to change an existing PDF document.
You get four major options: Text, Image, Link, and Redact.
Depending on your needs, you can use these tools and customize them further. For instance, you can select a piece of text and change its font, color, font size, etc.
If you want to design a page from scratch, you can remove everything from the page.
Again, PDF Expert does a decent job in this department. If anything, the experience has become more flexible in the new version. I also love how the tool allows you to arrange blocks with the help of smart grids.
Once you are done, you can press the Save button to keep your changes.
Scan & OCR
It is one of the newly added features of PDF Expert. You get the following options:
- Enhance Scan
- Split Pages
- Crop Pages
- Clear Margins
- Recognize Text
I tried all the features, and they are reliable. In particular, the Split Page and Crop Page features work well. If you regularly deal with scanned documents, the Scan & OCR section of PDF Expert will be a blessing.
During the review, I also tried converting my handwritten notes to PDF. Again, PDF Expert did an impressive job of recognizing my handwriting and converting it into easy-to-copy text.
It’s pretty handy that you can manually change the OCR-ed text. For instance, if the OCR is not perfect, you can make slight changes. The OCR algorithm will learn from this feedback and perform better.
Once done with edits, you can convert the PDF document and expert into the following formats.
- Microsoft Word
- Microsoft PowerPoint
- Microsoft Excel
- Text File
It works great when combining multiple pages into a single document. As we said, we did have an option to do this, but it’s great to have a dedicated tab.
PDF Expert does a decent job of everything you would expect from a PDF editor.
PDF Expert for iPad
As we said, PDF Expert is available for Mac, iPad, and iPhone. We have been testing the iPad version during the same period, and here are some thoughts.
The iPadOS version of PDF Expert comes with a more concise User Interface. It allows you to do everything you just saw on the Mac version. However, the editing experience is a little better because the iPad comes with a touchscreen.
The latest version has improved the support for Stage Manager and iPadOS 17 in general. For instance, you can now insert stickers and emojis to PDF files with ease.
If you have an Apple Pencil, things become no less than fantastic. You can use the Apple Pencil to annotate, edit, and sign PDF documents more quickly than ever before. The latest version of PDF Expert has a design optimized to make the best use of Apple Pencil features.
On iPad, PDF Expert becomes a better PDF reader as well. This is because it packs many features you cannot find on other PDF readers/editors. Therefore, compared to the default PDF reader on iPad, PDF Expert lets you do a lot more things.
Pricing and availability
Now, you have multiple ways to grab the desired license of PDF Expert.
PDF Expert remains a free-to-try app for the most part. You can also check out the free trial for 7 days if you want to try the premium features.
Once the trial period is done, you can upgrade to the paid version by paying $79.99 per year. It essentially comes down to less than $8 per month. It is a reasonable cost compared to how much PDF Expert adds to overall productivity.
Here’s what’s great:
The single subscription will let you access PDF Expert on your Mac, iPad, and iPhone. In addition, you can sign in using the same account and keep everything in sync.
If you are not into the ecosystem and want a clean PDF editor for your Mac, you can get a lifetime license by paying just $139.99.
I think the pricing plan is perfect, allowing multiple options for multiple users. Readdle also offers discounts for students and teachers through the special program.
In my opinion, this upgrade has made PDF Expert the best PDF editor out there. It’s great that you can access all these features from a single tool, instead of opening multiple apps. However, based on the nature of your work, you may have additional benefits as well.
I found that the new version has not only been optimized for macOS Sonoma but has brought improvements in the performance and stability fronts. Therefore, you can have a very smooth PDF editing and annotating experience, and PDF expert for iPad and iPhone turns into a great PDF viewer as well.
So, there you go, many more reasons to PDF Expert for Mac.