Adobe Acrobat replacement for Mac OS X
January 14, 2013 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Seeking Adobe Acrobat replacement for Mac OS X. I have Acrobat 8 Standard for Windows, which has served me well. But Adobe only offers their "Pro" version for Mac, which costs way more than I want to spend ($450), and it's also more than I need. So I'm looking for an alternative; free is great, but willing to pay for a solid software package. Intuitive and easy-to-use is a big plus. List of features I tend to rely on most in the "More Inside" section.

The features I typically use most include:
• Metadata removal
• File size reduction
• Add/delete/replace/extract individual pages or page ranges
• "Typewriter" tool for adding text to non-form-based PDFs
Redaction would also be helpful but not a dealbreaker. Thanks for your assistance.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
PDFPenPro? (Writeup in comparison to Acrobat here.)
posted by holgate at 2:10 PM on January 14, 2013

You could buy the Adobe Acrobat X Professional Upsell edition, which allows you to upgrade to Acrobat X Pro for Mac from Acrobat 8 Standard for $200.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 2:15 PM on January 14, 2013

Best answer: Adobe publicly posted serial numbers and download links for their CS2-era products here:

You'll have to create an Adobe account to download. There is some argument about legality, so that's for you to decide. They're apparently PowerPC apps, so you need Rosetta (which only runs on OS X 10.6 or older) for them to work.

Acrobat Pro 8.0 for Mac is included. These do not qualify for upgrade pricing.
posted by cnc at 2:15 PM on January 14, 2013

Response by poster: As it happens, I still use Snow Leopard (10.6), so cnc's solution appears to be working for me. (Thank you!) I was able to download the software without an Adobe account, and it installed without any problems. The only issue is that Adobe Pro 8 seems determined to be my default PDF application, and I haven't figured out how to turn off the warning that comes up every time I open the program informing me that it's not the default.

Anyhow, I would still definitely appreciate further suggestions, since I may have to abandon Snow Leopard at some point. Thanks again!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 2:46 PM on January 14, 2013

I have PDFPen and love it for adding text and signatures to PDFs. Pretty sure it does OCR, but check the website for it. I think I paid just $59 for it too.
posted by mathowie at 2:46 PM on January 14, 2013

I suppose you know already that preview lets you annotate with text and (at least in recent versions) add signatures. I don't think it OCRs though.
posted by leahwrenn at 3:32 PM on January 14, 2013

A somewhat cheaper option at

Acrobat XI Professional Full Retail Download for Mac
SKU: 65195199D
Original Price:$249.99
Sale Price:$199.99

Its a legit company and purchase. Any software bought through them will be registered with Adobe. I have been using this company for a few years with several commercial packages. The only caveats are that it can take a day to get the license and you don't get a physical box.
posted by lampshade at 6:40 PM on January 14, 2013

A couple of other things regarding your requirements.

As a general note.....Acrobat OCR, while not totally sucky, it not great. If you really really need good OCR and conversion, getting a dedicated OCR app is the way to go. There are other PDF apps that have better OCR engines. Best to download and run tests to se what works best with the type of text you will be processing.

• Metadata removal
Should be fine

• File size reduction
Best done with Acro Distiller, but the AcroPro features will work

• Add/delete/replace/extract individual pages or page ranges
Not a problem.

• "Typewriter" tool for adding text to non-form-based PDFs
Not a problem.

You did not mention forms, but if you find yourself needing that, Acro Pro will do the job, but it is not as precise as having LiveCycle Designer. Unfortunately LCD is rather pricey. There are cheaper ways to build the form in a third party app (like NitroPDF) then convert to a savable form with AcroPro. Not the ideal solution, but it will save you a couple hundred bucks.
posted by lampshade at 6:49 PM on January 14, 2013

Response by poster: What other OCR apps do you recommend, lampshade?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 7:05 PM on January 14, 2013

*********Note: I am on Windows so I am not up on whether any of these apps have a Mac version

I use Abbyy FineReader pretty much for everything. The type of work I do a lot of is to convert static PDFs back to usable data, and even re-build Word docs (this is usually in preparation for making PDF forms). I like Abbyy because it deals with a variety of formats (regular documents, spreadsheets and other) and has good adjustments. It is pretty fast and reliable, but has a few clumsy aspects. But the price to performance ratio is good for me.

For some conversions, I use NitroPDF Pro handy as well (pro has the OCR). I haven't upgraded to v8, but v7 handles OCR and PDF to Word conversions better than Acrobat. Also, Nitro has some better image editing capabilities than Acro. It is not that Acro cannot do the same thing, it is just that Nitro is a bit easier to deal with.

OmniPage is generally considered a better OCR app, but it costs more and I have not used it in a couple of years. Nuance Software has gone through many changes in that time so I don't know if Omnipage has gotten better or worse.

A last note about Nitro and forms: on the downside NitroPDF forms can only save if the app that opens a Nitro created is Nitro. In other words, if you create a form with Nitro that is supposed to save, should the user open it in Acrobat Reader, they will not be able to save it with Acro Reader. If it was made with Acrobat, then the form can be made to save with Acro Reader. Also, Nitro doesn't handle Java all that well. While it is a bit easier to implement, it also leave a lot of junk code in the form.
posted by lampshade at 7:26 PM on January 14, 2013

To follow up on lampshade:

I've heard that OmniPage has gotten worse, not better, especially for the Mac. I have an old version and find it fairly good, but every time I think about upgrading I find these horrible reviews ... and it's not a cheap upgrade.
posted by kristi at 9:16 AM on January 16, 2013

Yeah, i worked with it for a while and it was almost too detailed. What I like about Abbyy is the engine is fast and it is pretty well stocked with features. It also handles PDFs really welll which is a bread & butter job for me. It's a nice balance and quite a bit cheaper than Omni.

Another thing with Omnipage....Nuance SW seems to have exploded in growth in their product line, gobbling up all sorts of other packages. Usually not a good sign for a software company. Generally it signals a leap from a technical management to one that is sales oriented.
posted by lampshade at 5:10 PM on January 16, 2013

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