Free or inexpensive very basic PDF editor that is NOT open source
April 16, 2021 7:35 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for a PDF editing program that can merge PDFs, delete individual pages, and rearrange page order? Doesn't need to be able to edit text and might even be better if it can't. NOT OPEN SOURCE and not web-based.

My company's IT department will not allow us to use open source software and they're not going to change their mind so let's not even go there. Web-based is also out of the question due to contractual security requirements.

I'm sick of having to email my PDFs to the three people in the company with Adobe licenses when all I need is to merge them to fax as a single document.

IT said they would consider getting my coworkers and me some basic PDF editing software for merging docs ourselves if it's cheap enough.

Please advise, thanks.
posted by Jacqueline to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If there's a Mac available to you, macOS' Preview has those features built in.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 7:44 AM on April 16, 2021 [8 favorites]

You can do this in Preview app (built in) on a mac.
posted by dhruva at 7:44 AM on April 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

If using a Mac, the built-in Preview does all that.
posted by ShooBoo at 7:45 AM on April 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

Many of the cheap alternatives will be using open source PDF libraries under a coat of paint, but your IT people sound too dumb to figure that out.

PhantomPDF by Foxit is less than $20 a month. You could also ask them to set up one PC which people can remote desktop into. That would only need one license but would be single user at a time.
posted by benzenedream at 8:06 AM on April 16, 2021 [7 favorites]

HumbleBundle is currently doing an Office Suite Alternatives bundle that includes access to Ashampoo PDF Pro 2 if you pay more than $12.67. I have no idea if it's any good but it seems to get decent reviews. There also appears to be a free to try version on Cnet.
posted by toastyk at 8:08 AM on April 16, 2021

How cheap is "cheap enough"? We've used Foxit for years at work on the Windows machines for our very minimal PDF uses and have been happy with it.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:09 AM on April 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

+1 for Foxit; came in here to recommend it.
Here's their pricing page.
posted by Bill Watches Movies Podcast at 8:10 AM on April 16, 2021

I asked a ver y similar question a year ago:

It turned out that there weren't too options, but the best (and it is free and NOT open source) was the extremely old school PDFill. I used the downloadable version.

I had a similar problem just a few days ago, in fact, and once more spent an hour or two trying to find a decent PDF editor for Windows at a reasonable price. In the end, I just resorted to using PDFill again.
posted by cincinnatus c at 8:24 AM on April 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you're on Windows you could try Gios PDF Splitter and Merger - Windows Version which does pretty much exactly what you've asked for and nothing else.

It's licensed under the LGPL which, as the Free Software Foundation has been at pains to point out for decades now, is a Free Software licence and not an Open Source licence.
posted by flabdablet at 8:47 AM on April 16, 2021

I use the free version of PDF reDirect, but it looks like the pro version should do what you want.
posted by sardonyx at 12:03 PM on April 16, 2021

PDFill (for rotating) and pdf995 (for cutting and merging) are what we use. Don't love them but they work, but don't use pdf995 for rotating.
posted by hypnogogue at 1:18 PM on April 16, 2021

Another option: Sejda PDF Desktop, available under Mac and Windows.
posted by yclipse at 3:44 PM on April 16, 2021

I have used PDF Editor. Using it is like going back to about 1980 due to the totally dorky user interface. But it did work, and it's free.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:58 PM on April 16, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. No Macs. And there's too many of us to remote into a single desktop. I'll research the other suggestions.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:01 PM on April 16, 2021

Your "IT department" is, to put it mildly, out-of-touch with industry best practice.

If they feel the need to control the software that users run within the network perimeter, then they should be *providing* that software, in the form of a local "app store" or a "golden image" running on company-provided hardware. That's what my department did at $big_famous_techco before I left. Of course, they also provided lots of "open-source" software: it's a lot easier and more effective to check for malware in source and build the apps yourself than it is to examine blobs compiled by an unknown party.

I understand some "IT departments" don't build their own software, and instead rely on the goodwill of vendors. That means they need to provide both the software and the relevant licenses, or they are exposing the company to enough liability to strip-mine it of value. Allowing users within the network to download, install and run random software off the internet is an invitation to exploitation.
posted by Rev. Irreverent Revenant at 6:27 PM on April 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

My org (a large non profit) also went with Foxit for similar uses.
posted by gudrun at 6:29 PM on April 16, 2021

Response by poster: Our IT person is actually really good and smart, but her hands are tied by client contracts and industry-specific security certifications that severely restrict what we can use.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:57 AM on April 22, 2021

PDFsam Visual is a cross-platform program that merges and re-arranges PDF files. They have a commercial license for a small one-time fee.

For more complicated PDF file changes, including content editing, I have enjoyed using Wondershare PDFElement, a commercial program with a reasonable subscription license.
posted by QuixoticGambit at 10:47 AM on February 21

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