What are the Best PDF Products in 2021 for Online and Offline Use?

Are you looking for a game-changing PDF editor to enhance your productivity and meet the needs of your growing business in 2021? Then look no further because we have filtered out the top PDF products for 2021 that you can use either online, offline, or as a hybrid product with desktop and cloud capabilities.

Let’s look at each of these PDF products, their features, pros and cons, and finally an overview of the products from a business use case perspective.

1. Wondershare PDFelement – A Comprehensive Yet Simple PDF Solution


Wondershare PDFelement is a mature productivity tool with the power to simplify the PDF experience.

The application offers the full range of PDF capabilities including editing, creation, conversion to other formats, security features, annotation tools, page, and file management, forms management, electronic signing, advanced OCR and batch processing, and more. The best part, however, is the continued effort by the company to perfect the UI design and functionality to create a user-friendly and intuitive product. The newly launched PDFelement 8 is a great example of this effort and sports the following new features:

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Intuitive UI

The user interface has been further simplified from the previous version and heavily focuses on a positive user experience. New users will be able to quickly get comfortable with the software and know exactly what to do starting from the home page. The iconography has been fine-tuned so everything is much clearer than before, which helps users navigate quickly to any feature they need to use. The menu options and ribbon toolbars in the inner pages have also been simplified and given additional tools for easier navigation, providing a simpler and faster experience overall.

PDF Editing with OCR

Non-editable documents such as scanned PDFs can now be read as they are or converted to an editable format at the click of a switch. The user can toggle between ‘read’ and ‘edit’ modes to suit the required action, and even scan files to PDF to instantly make them editable or searchable. This flexibility makes it an ideal PDF reader and editor for any type of PDF file, and you can even work on a file without interruption as OCR is being processed.

Cloud Storage and Online Electronic Signature Integration

Wondershare has introduced a revolutionary new integration with the new PDFelement for Windows. It includes direct access from the desktop application to a cloud storage service and an online electronic signature platform that can be used to request signatures from multiple people at a time. Both these features can be accessed normally through the respective menu items in PDFelement 8 for Windows. The documents saved on the new Document Cloud are secured by enterprise-grade security protocols, and your documents are sent through secure channels for signing by external users. PDFelement 8 subscribers automatically receive free storage and limited e-signing capabilities, while the paid option for Document Cloud includes 100GB of storage and unlimited document sending.

Blazing Speed

The new PDFelement is lighter and faster when it comes to launching the application, and document opening are also much faster. It is also lighter on your computer’s resources so you’ll see fewer lags and experience 50% fewer crashes even on low-spec computers.

Comprehensive Forms Management

Whether you’re creating forms from scratch or converting non-interactive forms to interactive PDFs, PDFelement has your back. From simple form-filling and signing to advanced form data extraction and form field recognition, this software is an end-to-end solution to handle your company’s forms workflows.

Easy Reading and Annotation

Powerful tools to read eBooks and other content, with convenient markup tools to reference important parts, take notes, and so on. Find everything you need in a nearly arranged toolbar and use the ‘continuous comment’ function to speed up your document review and feedback process.

Optimize and Organize

Reduce file size, split and merge files, reorder pages, or add/remove pages, and do everything you need to get your PDF collection into shape. Simple drag and drop and other features make it easier to do what you need to do.

PDF Security

Security is a major concern today, and PDFelement offers enterprise-grade security for your documents. Encrypt them with passwords, restrict modifications, add copyright or confidential watermarks, and redact sensitive content before sharing PDFs with others.


  • Faster launch and document open times increase efficiency.
  • Intuitive tools make it easier for new users to become comfortable with the software.
  • Cloud integration enables secure global access to authorized users.
  • Reduce contract signing timelines with a secure online e-signature platform.
  • The desktop-Cloud hybrid model gives you the best of both worlds – offline and online use.
  • OCR support for 22 languages – multilingual OCR is possible.
  • Comprehensive tools to handle small and large PDF workloads without needing other third-party applications.
  • Cross-platform support with different versions of PDFelement for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
  • Accurate and fast conversions to reliably convert files to and from PDF and maintain their core attributes like fonts, layout, alignment, etc.
  • Over 300 source formats are supported for conversion to PDF (PDF Creation).
  • Enhanced security and privacy feature to keep your company information safe.
  • Easy sharing and printing features within the software’s interface.


  • Free version available but watermarks will be added to edited and converted files.

PDFelement has long been a favorite of heavy PDF users, and the new PDFelement 8 for PC takes the experience to a whole new level with its powerful new features, slick new UI, and the usual pocket-friendly pricing.

2. Soda PDF Anywhere – A Flexible PDF Utility


Soda PDF offers a unique hybrid model of a desktop application for Windows users and an online version that Mac and other OS platforms can use through the browser. It has the advantage of being able to have your files reside offline but you can edit them online with a simple cloud upload function that is part of Soda PDF Anywhere. It also has a robust e-signature function with status tracking. Probably the best feature of Soda PDF is the design, which is very much like an MS Office application like Word or Excel. This makes it easy for Windows users to get used to the software without having to go through a steep learning curve. Some useful features are listed below:

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Batch convert tool

Users can process a queue of files with this feature. The conversions are quite accurate and you can even use OCR to convert scanned documents into editable PDFs. However, the conversion to PDF feature is limited to Word, Excel, and JPG files, which we’ve noted in the Cons section below.

Manage PDFs

Soda PDF offers flexible tools to merge and split files, organize merged files, delete pages, and compress file size. You can also rotate pages or resize the pages of a PDF easily with the built-in feature.


  • The wide range of PDF tools makes it ideal for most types of usage.
  • Online access across multiple OS platforms.
  • Cloud integration to work from anywhere.


  • Batch process limited to file conversion.
  • A limited number of file formats supported for ‘to PDF’ conversion.
  • No installable version for Mac systems.

Soda PDF doesn’t offer a free version but you can take a free 14-day trial to see if you like the software.

3. Adobe Acrobat DC – The PDF Pioneer


No list of best PDF products would be complete without a mention of Adobe Acrobat DC. This is the long-standing market leader and pioneer of PDF. Through its long history as the earliest tool for handling PDF documents, it has evolved to feature some of the most diverse PDF capabilities that you’ll ever find.

However, that’s also its Achilles Heel. The barrage of features thrown at the user is often quite overwhelming, which makes it unsuitable as a PDF editor for beginners. In addition, the price point puts it out of reach for many small businesses with limited software budgets. Nevertheless, it is the perfect tool for professionals who need to work offline and online.

The cloud integration came with the DC version and is part of Adobe’s family of Creative Cloud products that include some of the most iconic software applications on the market. Acrobat comes in a Reader variant and an Acrobat variant. Acrobat is available in Standard and Pro versions, with robust features that cover everything from simple editing to complex PDF tasks. Some core features are mentioned below:

PDF Editing

This is where Acrobat truly shines since it is essentially a PDF editor. Any element of a PDF file can be added, changed, or removed, and the font recognition feature is matched by very few products like PDFelement. Acrobat is also good at maintaining the overall integrity of the layout when editing PDF content but there are known issues with complex layouts containing multiple types of elements such as tables, text, graphs, images, objects, hyperlinks, etc.


Text recognition is another one of Acrobat’s strong areas. It’s more accurate than most other PDF OCR tools and you can even scan a document directly into an editable PDF because the process occurs simultaneously.

Document Comparison

The side-by-side feature is useful because it highlights differences between two seemingly identical files, making it easy to spot the variations and make corrections accordingly.


  • Mature product with lots of helpful resources and a large user community.
  • Tons of features for anything you need as far as PDF is concerned.
  • Cloud integration for greater collaboration online.
  • Heavyweight tool for power users with large PDF workloads.
  • Powerful conversion engine and accurate OCR capabilities.


  • The obvious disadvantage is the pricing of its licenses.
  • The interface can be quite complex for new users – a steep learning curve to master all functions.
  • Bug testing is not as good for new versions – many user complaints on public forums.

Despite its problems, Adobe Acrobat DC remains the most-used PDF editor in the enterprise segment because of the width of its product portfolio. Many companies prefer cross-integrated software for document management and products like Adobe XD for UI design and Photoshop for image editing are an integral part of their businesses, making Adobe Acrobat an essential addition to their software portfolios.

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Final Thoughts


To give you an overview of these three great products, we’ve prepared a comparison table so you can choose the best one based on your requirement. The ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best/highest rating in each category.

Feature/Product PDFelement Soda PDF Acrobat DC
Comprehensive Features 4 3 5
Affordability 5 4 3
Conversion Accuracy 5 5 5
Conversion Speed 5 4 5
OS Support 5 3 5
Ease of Use 5 4 4
Total Score 29 24 27
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Article Published by Souvik

SouvikWeb Developer & SEO Specialist with 10+ years of experience in Open Source Web Development, specialized in Joomla & WordPress development. He is also the moderator of this blog "RS Web Solutions".

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