Affordable PDF Solutions for Startups and Small Businesses


Software is an essential part of any modern business, but nobody other than the CFO possibly thinks about how big of an overhead it represents.

You need basic Office software like word processors, spreadsheet programs and presentation software, industry-specific programs and systems, and a lot of other downloads and subscriptions that just keep adding up.

PDF solutions are another minefield because there are limited choices for companies with modest budgets. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars getting your staff the tools they need. There are PDF editors that you can get lifetime (perpetual) licenses for at under $100 per user. There’s no need to spend $400 or even $200 for a desktop license.

Let’s look at two solutions based on whether you operate in a Mac or Windows environment. These tools are much more affordable than market leaders like Adobe and Nitro but offer exactly the same functionality, flexibility and accuracy. In certain cases, they even perform better than the top products on the market.

PDFelement Standard and Pro for Windows

Whether it’s for an office environment or personal use at home, there are very few PDF solutions that match the capabilities of PDFelement from Wondershare. A full suite of editing tools, robust annotation types, form filling and even form field extraction, batch conversion capabilities and other batch processes, and much more. Here are some of the highlights, and why price and value are both important when choosing a software product for your startup or small business.


PDF editing is made simple with an intuitive interface and auto-appear tools for different types of editing. Once you install the application, launch it and import a file to edit. As you click various editable blocks of text, images, links and so on, you’ll see new toolbars popping into a panel on the right. This customized experience makes it easy to edit your PDFs without being distracted by too many buttons and options. Just choose the PDF file, open it with PDFelement and click the Edit tab at the top to begin editing.

In the Standard version, which is available for $79(or $69 for one year license), you get all the editing features like image and text editing, image extraction, cropping and linking, as well as extras like editing headers and footers, adding or editing backgrounds, and so on. If you want OCR and Bates Numbering, you can get it for an additional $50 in the Pro version ($129), which also includes advanced features like batch conversion, batch OCR, batch encrypt, and file size optimization.

Annotation and Comments

PDFelement Standard and Pro both offer the same tools for annotations and comments, such as highlighting, Sticky Notes, underlining, text boxes, erasing, and so on. You can also add signatures and stamps, and there are also tools for shapes and lines.

Converting from PDF

This is an area that PDF element excels in, offering extensive options in the Standard version and even more format options in the Pro version. With the latter, you can also do batch conversions. If you have dozens of documents that need to be converted to a different format like Word, PowerPoint or even GIFF, this is the tool for you.

Other Highlights

The Pro version of PDFelement also offers extended capabilities like form field recognition, data extraction, PDF/A-2b support, redaction, and block/erase selection. For this price, it offers the greatest value for small businesses and startups that don’t have massive infrastructure budgets but need the tools to get their job done.

This is purely a Mac utility so there’s no version for Windows, but there are some robust editing, page management, annotation and other features in this popular PDF editor. The best thing is probably the price, which falls in between PDFelement Standard and Pro at about $80. You may miss some key features like conversion, editing watermarks, headers and footers, and batch processing, but it’s more than adequate for all but power users. Here are some of the key features:

Editing and Annotations

Editing in PDF Expert is as simple as it gets. The layout resembles Adobe Acrobat Pro quite a bit, so you’ll be quite familiar with the controls when switching from that one to PDF Expert. It’s hugely popular with Mac users, and because it has all the editing, commenting and signature tools you need for most PDF tasks, it is a viable option for a small office with a limited number of users.

Although you won’t be able to add watermarks or backgrounds in PDF Expert, it does a great job when editing pages, like inserting a page from a different file, extracting or replacing content, cropping and copy-pasting pages. One of the cool features is the thumbnail view when manipulating pages. It’s shown as a clear preview in a grid so you know which page you’re moving, and where.

There are also numerous tools for commenting and making annotations, as well as adding signatures and stamps to your PDFs.


PDF Expert also offers essential protection tools for the Open password, but not for Permissions. You can lock your PDF, but you can’t prevent anyone from copying or printing the file the way you can do with PDFelement. However, redaction comes standard with PDF Extract.

Combining PDFs

As with page insertions, combining PDFs is very easy in PDF Expert. You can use conventional drag and drop methods to get your pages in the right order, and you can even rotate them for better readability.

In terms of value for money, you won’t find two better PDF tools for Windows and Mac. PDFelement offers two options in the Standard and Pro that rival the capabilities of Adobe and Nitro, while PDF Expert has a single option but can match any Mac PDF editor on the market.