For years there has been a quiet but present arms race between Apple’s Preview app and Adobe’s Acrobat Reader for PDF supremacy. The conflict surfaces whenever a user needs to open and work with a PDF file on their Mac, with the longstanding suggestion for Mac and Windows users being to download and install Adobe Reader.
Apple’s Preview app has come a long way with its PDF support, and for most people, it’s got all the tools you need. Adobe Acrobat may be the best application if you regularly work with PDF files. Let’s take a look at the main differences between Apple Preview and Adobe Acrobat for managing PDFs.
Apple’s Preview app is free and comes with macOS. It started out as a handy and versatile little graphics application and has become much more useful over the years.
We used Preview version 11.0 on macOS Monterey 12.4, which comes with editing tools for fairly easy markup of PDF files, as discussed in this Apple support document. Some of the edits you can make to PDFs while using preview include:
Easily delete or rearrange individual pages in a multi-page PDF file
Merge and add pages
Annotate and highlight specific text
Add shapes and text boxes
Complete Fillable PDF Forms
Sign documents by creating a signature with your mouse, touchpad or stylus
It’s not the perfect editor tool to edit PDF files without Adobe Acrobat, but it allows you to reach most of the way and partly reduces the need to register for the subscription service Adobe.
Plus, Preview loads quickly and opens just about any file format you can throw at it, including some surprising formats like Adobe Illustrator, EPS, FAX, Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Photoshop, RAW, and TIFF. Most of the edits you can make to PDFs using Markup can also be made to image files, and there are other image editing tools like color adjustments (exposure, contrast, sharpness of saturation, etc.) that can be used.
Preview is a great tool for opening and exporting files to just about any file format. For example, you can open a TIFF file and convert it to JPEG. Although preview does not currently open the .webp graphic file format (and neither does Adobe Acrobat), this can be circumvented by removing the “webp” file extension in the file name and replacing it with ” jpg”, “gif” or whatever file format works best for you.
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, Standard DC and Pro DC
Adobe offers three applications for PDFs. Acrobat Reader DC, Acrobat Standard DC and Acrobat Pro DC. First, here are quick summaries of each app, then we’ll go into more depth.
Acrobat Reader DC: This app is more like Apple Preview, but it has a smaller feature set. It allows you to read, comment, sign and print PDFs. It also tracks feedback ratings. That’s it. It’s free.
Standard Acrobat DC: This application was more creative tools than Reader DC, such as editing tools, export tools, etc. $13 per month.
Acrobat Pro DC: Even more authoring tools than Standard DC, including comparison tools, converting scanned documents to PDF, and more. $15 per month.
Although Acrobat Reader DC and Acrobat Standard/Pro DC are related to Adobe’s subscription programs, there are a lot of good things to say about them. Reader’s speed has improved in recent versions, and although Reader recalls that it was absolutely necessary to download and install Adobe’s Creative Cloud software to have any hope of opening a critical PDF file, current versions of Reader DC and Acrobat Standard/Pro DC can open and export to an amazing range of file formats, including Microsoft Word documents, text files, HTML files, Corel WordPerfect files, OpenOffice and StarOffice files, 3D files, Autodesk AutoCAD files, Microsoft Project files and various video formats.
Adobe has a pesky subscription request alert, however, regardless of which Acrobat DC application you’re using. When opening your first PDF file in Acrobat and unless you make a decision and click the “Don’t show this message again” box, Acrobat DC will strive to become your default application to open and work with. with PDFs, its tracking ads promoting subscriptions to the Adobe Acrobat DC platform to access editing, tagging, exporting, and security features for your documents. This in-app advertisement can make users lose their minds.
A subscription to Adobe Acrobat Standard or Pro DC provides clean markup and editing of PDF files and is part of a suite that works well with other Adobe programs such as Illustrator, Lightroom, InDesign and others. Your subscription fee provides access to features such as editing PDFs, adding comments, recognizing text, converting files to PDF, and signing features such as requesting signatures , creating areas of a PDF file that can be signed, and creating forms that have become essential. web-based business.
If your infrequent need for PDF editing tools makes Adobe’s subscription fees excessive, there are other applications that allow full PDF editing and offer a one-time software payment. Skim works as a free and open-source PDF reader and editor, and Smile Software’s excellent PDFpen software adds a full set of PDF editing and markup tools for a one-time payment of $80.
At the end of the line
If your PDF needs are limited to filling out forms, signing documents, and other basic functions, Preview should suffice and that’s on all Macs. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is free but has a smaller feature set than Preview.
But while Apple has snuck in and taken over many features from Adobe Acrobat in recent years, Adobe has established itself as an iconic brand for professionals. If your PDF needs are more production-oriented and happen regularly, you can use the tools offered in Adobe Acrobat Standard or Pro DC.