PDFelement Review 2023: The Good, Bad, and Alternative

Overall Take: PDFelement 9 is an all-in-one PDF editor, which integrates with all the standard features you’d find in other competing solutions on the market as well as some modern features that make it stand out of the crowd. I would recommend PDFelement to any individual or organization looking for a reliable PDF editor at an affordable price, especially for those who are looking for a one-time purchase.

pdfelement review

In this PDFelement review, you’ll learn:

FAQs about Wondershare PDFelement

If you’ve already got a question of particular concern about Wondershare PDFelement, you can look for a quick answer from below.

1. What is Wondershare PDFelement?

Wondershare PDFelement, or Wondershare PDF Editor as some people mistakenly call it, is an all-in-one PDF solution dedicated to improving your work and learning efficiency by making the most of PDF for you. With PDFelement at hand, you can create, edit, convert, compress, organize, combine, read, annotate, scan, extract, sign, and even batch process PDFs with any limitations.

2. Is PDFelement better than Adobe Acrobat?

Adobe Acrobat targets professional users while PDFelement is aimed at different groups of people, including educational users, personal users, as well as professional users. See more comparisons between PDFelement and Acrobat in this part- PDFelement Alternatives.

3. Is PDFelement worth it?

Personally speaking, PDFelement is well worth the investment considering its industry-leading performance and responsive customer service especially now that it offers a one-time purchase option.

4. Is PDFelement free?

PDFelement can be used for free but the free version has very limited features. You can check the differences between the free and paid versions of PDFelement below.

5. Is PDFelement one-time purchase?

PDFelement provides multiple pricing plans including one-time purchases. Check PDFelement Price for a detailed explanation of PDFelement pricing plans.

6. Is PDFelement safe/secure?

PDFelement is safe and secure to use for the following reasons:
1) No viruses or bundled installers have been found during the download and installation process; 2) The edited PDF will be renamed and saved as a new PDF file without overwriting the original document; 3) PDFelement is a member of PDF Association and is approved by ISO 27001 (Information Security Management); 4) A number of measures are taken in PDF element to ensure your privacy and data security, including add passwords to keep your PDF files safe, redacting PDF to remove all sensitive information, etc.

7. Is PDFelement legitimate?

Like many other PDF editors, PDFelement is legit to use and is widely recognized as the best alternative to Adobe Acrobat.

Detailed PDFelement Review

In this part, I will take you through all the major features of the latest PDFelement 9.0 and share my review of each one.

Note that since PDFelement 9.0 has been greatly improved in development and performance compared with the previous PDFelement 5, 6, 7, and 8, you should not refer to those outdated PDFelement reviews anymore.

Once you launch PDFelement, you’ll see the following screen first. You can choose to open or create a PDF in the bottom left corner of the screen. Or you can directly select a specific tool in Quick Tools or a PDF in Recent Files/Starred Files/Ducoment Cloud for quick startup. After that, you will enter an interface with all the features reviewed below.

pdf element interface

Edit and Markup PDF like Word

We usually regard PDF as read-only but that is no longer true with the help of PDF editors like PDFelement. Under the Edit tab in PDFelement, you can feel free to edit entire blocks of text, overstrike/italicize/underline/strikeout words, change fonts/font colors/font sizes, change alignment, and even find and replace words just as you would with a Word document.

In addition, you can insert text/image/link objects wherever you want them in the PDF, and add, edit, or remove watermarks/backgrounds/headers & footers/bates numbers/page numbers. PDFelement has a huge template library for you to choose these items.

My Take: It is truly amazing to edit PDFs exactly the way you edit Word. But when I added or deleted words, I found it occasionally slow to respond, which should be improved better.

Note that you cannot edit a protected PDF document unless you have the password to unlock it.

Convert files to and from PDFs.

PDFelement supports converting PDF to many other formats, including Word, Excel, PPT, Image (PNG, JPG, JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF), Text (TXT, RTF), PDF/A, EPUB, RTF, HTML, XML, HWP, HWPX. Likewise, you can also create PDF from these files, as well as from clipboard and scanner.

convert files to and from pdf

My Take: During my test, it works well to convert PDF but if you want to create PDF from files other than Word, Excel, and PPT, you are likely to run into an error and fail to do so.

Extract and edit text with OCR.

The OCR (Optical Character Recognition) function is used to recognize scanned PDF files and turn them into editable and searchable texts so you can utilize these paper documents digitally.

pdf ocr

My Take: OCR is now a must-have for PDF editors but PDFelement absolutely equips with the most reliable technology. It currently supports recognizing 22 languages and you can even recognize written information using it.

Organize PDF pages.

Under the Page tab, you can organize PDF pages by dragging and dropping each page in the exact spot you want it in, whether you want to extract selected pages to form a new PDF, split a large PDF document into multiple smaller ones, insert a new PDF page into the current file, or replace selected pages with pages from another PDF.

organize pdf pages

My Take: I like the drag-and-drop feature and how flexible it is to move PDF pages between two or multiple PDF documents. PDFelement has done a great job organizing PDF pages.

Annotate PDF.

We often need to add notes and annotate parts within PDFs for a better explanation, feedback, and cooperation. Whatever the purpose, PDFelement can let you do it exactly the way you want with a range of markup tools, callouts, and shapes.

annotate pdf

My Take: PDFelement can meet all my needs when annotating PDFs but it seems a little bit clumsy when I added a sticky note. Apart from that, it works just fine and even enables you to add stamps and handwriting signatures on PDFs.

Create and fill forms in PDF.

PDFelement empowers you to create fillable PDFs as well as fill-in PDF forms. You can either open a blank PDF and design a form by dragging and dropping various form elements, or you can directly create a form from PDF Template and make some tweaks.

make a fillable pdf form without acrobat

Besides, it supports recognizing form fields and extracting data from form fields in PDF.

My Take: You’ll love it if you often need to fill in digital forms or organize various online surveys/contracts. I especially love its huge template library which contains a wide variety of form templates, including calendars, planners, resumes, contracts, to-do lists, invoices, etc.

Protect PDF and your information.

It is always important to protect your privacy and keep your important files confidential. With PDFelement, you can redact text or images to hide sensitive information, encrypt your important PDF documents, and securely sign PDF documents for authorization in a faster way.

My Take: The ability to redact, encrypt and eSign is really convenient and beneficial. If you have not realized the importance of doing so, I strongly suggest you start following these practices now.

PDFelement Free vs Paid

There are only five basic features you can use for free all the time: create PDF, annotate PDF, print PDF, view PDF, as well as fill PDF forms. That is to say, you have to pay to use all the remaining features after the 14-day free trial.

Registered users can test almost all features of PDFelement with some limitations during the free trial except for OCRing, compressing, and scrolling screenshot PDF. But as an unregistered user, you can only edit/reorder/encrypt/redact/sign PDF and create PDF form within the first 14 days.

For more detailed information, you can check the comparison table at the bottom of the software’s purchase page.

pdfelement free vs paid

Pros and Cons of PDFelement

After analyzing about 357 user opinions of PDFelement, I summarized the most mentioned pros and cons you should know about PDFelement.


  • Easy to use and fast learning curve.
  • Cross-platform compatibility: Windows, Mac, iOS, Cloud.
  • Responsible customer service: support tickets and forum.
  • Frequent and progressive updates.
  • Easy to combine/split/reorder PDFs.
  • Reliable OCR (Optical Character Recognition).
  • Add/Remove watermarks.
  • Batch process PDFs.
  • One-click convert PDF to Word, Excel, PPT, image, text, and other common formats.
  • Create various fillable forms.
  • Extract data from forms and tables.


Note that since PDFelement is constantly updating and improving its performance, these problems may have been resolved by the time you read this article.

  • No free upgrades.
  • Seldom crashes.
  • Lack of instructions and demonstration videos.
  • Not good as a PDF reader.

What Experts Say about PDFelement

Don’t just take my words for granted. To do justice, I also analyzed the other top expert reviews of PDFelement.

PDFelement Professional is a robust, uncomplicated alternative to Adobe Acrobat.


This is a well-designed PDF editor with various features that should keep most people happy, including some advanced users.


PDFelement today holds the exalted status of being the only all-in-one PDF solution tool, second to none other than Adobe Acrobat itself.

Software Testing Help

Some of these reviews are outdated and published 1-2 years ago at the time of PDFelement 6/7/8. But in general, it is obvious that PDFelement is an excellent and trustworthy PDF editor and has the potential to lead the pack of competitors with its constant updates and improvements.

PDFelement Price

Price is a big advantage of PDFelement and probably also the deciding reason why most people choose it over its competitors. It features a flexible and affordable pricing plan for different purposes.

For individuals, PDFelement offers three pricing plans: Yearly Plan – $79.99, 2-Year Plan – $109.99, and Perpetual Plan – $129.99. Each registration code can only be used to activate PDFelement on one single platform. If you need to work on different platforms, for example, Mac and Windows, make sure to buy PDFelement for Mac and Windows in bundles so that you can save more money.

For Team & Business, you can customize a multi-user pricing plan and later manage users in your Wondershare ID account to decide who to use the product. You cannot just buy multiple individual licenses cause that will still allow only one person to use it.

For students, you can enjoy a special student discount by logging into a Student Beans Account. PDFelement student discount is a good deal as it saves more than 30 dollars for yearly and perpetual licenses.

By the way, if you are a perpetual plan user of PDFelement 5, 6, 7, and 8, you can enjoy an exclusive member upgrade off to grade to the latest 9.0 version.

PDFelement Alternatives

You can find many PDFelement alternatives on the market. Some of them are as good as PDFelement while others might not even compare to it at all. Whatever you believe is the best PDF editor, it is always wise to do some investigation before you spend your money- after all, it’s not a small sum.

PDFelement vs Adobe Acrobat

Many Acrobat users have reported that PDFelement is much easier to use and can provide equally powerful features at half the price. In fact, PDFelement is indeed easier to use for novices and even offers more modern features than Acrobat. However, the overall performance of Adobe Acrobat is still unparalleled, though I doubt whether it’s worth twice as much as PDFelement.

Both tools have their ups and downs, but obviously, PDFelement is a great alternative to Acrobat, especially if you are on a tight budget. PDFelement offers a one-time purchase option while Acrobat only accepts monthly renewal. In my opinion, PDFelement is more in favor of personal users or small enterprises and Adobe Acrobat is more suitable for professional users.

PDFelement vs PDF Expert

PDF Expert is a fast and fluent PDF reader and editor for Mac and iOS users.

Compared with PDFelement, PDF Expert can provide you with a smoother experience at a cost of fewer features and incompatibility with Windows and Web versions.

But the good news is it offers a one-time payment, too. If you don’t need to process PDFs frequently for multiple purposes, PDF Expert can also be a good nice choice.

Apart from Acrobat and PDF Expert, other similar editors, such as Foxit and Nitro, all have similar features but cost more than PDFelement, so I would prefer PDFelement overall.

Final Verdict

PDFelement is an advanced PDF editor with a good combination of simplicity, functionality, and affordability. It changes our traditional view of PDF as read-only and empowers us to fully utilize PDF documents in favor of us. Whether you are a student or an employee, PDFelement is undoubtedly a good investment to improve your study or work efficiency.

About the author

My name is David Zhao. I've been working in the SaaS industry for almost a decade, and my experience with software goes back even further. Because of this, I have a deep understanding of how software can enhance both our work and personal lives. I'm excited to share my professional perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of various software.

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