Absolutely stunning app with a lot of functionality.
Working with PDFs is a way of life for me. In my line of work (Project Management for Pharmaceutical Corporate Communications), we distribute proofs to clients daily by using PDFs. When we get revisions back, we markup the PDF and send back to the designer to make corrections. This process continues until the client approves of the piece. Because of this method of working, I’m somewhat limited with PDF tools I can use on my Mac. Sure, Preview can do basic markups, but when it comes to heavy lifting, and more heavily designed PDFs, Preview just can’t handle it. App Developer, Readdle, has recently release PDF Expert for Mac, which is a monumental step in the right direction for PDF editing on the Mac.
Readdle had some very specific focus areas in mind when they developed PDF Expert for Mac. The main features are:
- Blazing Fast PDF Reader
- Professional Annotation Tools
- Form Filling
- Document Signing
- Easy Sharing
- Works Across All Devices through Continuity and Handoff
PDF Expert for Mac really has a lot going for it. It’s a really robust editing tool that was created with the Mac user in mind. Because it was originally developed for iOS (If you are interested in PDF Expert for iOS, check out our review here), I was interested to see how it would be modified for the Mac. The team at Readdle did a really nice job with it. I have quite a bit of experience with Adobe Acrobat Pro – the benchmark app for PDF editing – and was able to really put PDF Expert through the ringer before passing judgement on it. Before I get into specifics, I would like to say that I am very impressed.
From my experience, editing or just marking up PDFs on a Mac can be somewhat painful. The tools I use the most for work include the text markup tools and comments. We’ve tried to follow the method of doing detailed highlighting and markups using comments, but that ends up taking more time for our designers. So, our PDF editing method at work is very specific. That’s why I typically use Adobe Acrobat Pro for my needs. But, that means I have to haul around two computers all the time. That can become very tiring. I’m constantly looking for ways to do all the work I have to do on my Mac. PDF Expert gets me one more step away from being tethered to my PC.
The first thing I noticed about working with this app is how ‘Mac’ it is. From the ground up, it was designed to work with the Mac infrastructure and it just feels great using it. There are some apps – even ones designed for Mac – that feel clunky to me. PDF Expert is smooth and elegant. When you first open it you are met with a very user-friendly screen. You can choose to open a file traditionally, or you can drag and drop a file onto PDF Expert to open it. This drag and drop feature was a something I was immediately excited about. There is also a help section at the top of the screen that allows you to open up different parts of the user guide if you are having trouble getting started. In addition to opening pre-existing PDFs, you can also start one from scratch or merge multiple existing PDFs, or other documents. PDF Expert makes merging documents very easy. In fact, file merging was one of the focus areas of PDF Expert’s main design. Sharing PDFs is also made very easy in PDF Expert. There is a ‘share’ icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that allows you to send your work through Mail, Messages, AirDrop, or other designated app.
I have been working with PDF Expert for Mac for the past few days now and feel that it’s a very capable app for marking up and editing PDFs. As I described above, PDFs are a part of my daily life. So, in testing this app, I grabbed one of the proofs we created for a client and did some test markups. I really wanted to get a feel for the way they worked and how they differed from Adobe Acrobat Pro. One of the first things I tried was adding strikethroughs to text on the PDF. This is one of the tools I use the most so I thought it would be a good test. PDF Expert makes it very easy to strikethrough, or mark text to delete. Once the tool is selected, you simply act as though you are highlighting the text you want to mark. The strikethrough appears automatically. With Adobe Acrobat Pro, you have to select the text and then the tool you want to use. It doesn’t continuously make changes. So, with this test, PDF Expert has a leg up on Acrobat because it’s more efficient if you have multiple pieces of text to markup.
The second markup tool I looked at was for inserting text. This is the second tool I use the most and Acrobat unfortunately wins this test. Acrobat makes it very simple to insert text in place of existing text. You simply highlight the existing text and type the ‘insert’ key on the keyboard. The existing text is striked with a blue line and a comment box appears for you to enter new text. This is a very useful tool for artwork revisions. Designers immediately recognize the tool and markup and complete the requested changes without further direction. With PDF Expert, the work around is a bit different. You first have to strikethrough the existing text then add a comment directing the editor about the change they need to make. It’s just a bit less efficient than Acrobat.
One other very cool function is the signing PDF feature. PDF Expert makes it possible for you to use your Mac’s trackpad as a signing surface. The app actually disables the regular functionality of the trackpad for a few moments and makes it act as a signing pad instead. It’s a very cool feature that I was not expecting to find.
Other editing tools work very much the same in both programs. The biggest difference I’ve found between these two advanced PDF editors is the insert tool. Is that enough to make me not use PDF Expert? Absolutely not. I’m hoping that maybe the developers will add that in a future version as it will make it completely possible for me to leave Acrobat behind.
PDF Expert is a beautifully designed app and I’m very excited to have it available for work. It really solves a lot of problems that are presented with other PDF editors and makes it very easy for someone to just start using the app with very little instruction.
PDF Expert is currently on sale for $19.99 (regular price $59.99) and there is a free trial version available from Riddle.
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