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PDFpenPro 3.1

Review - PDFpenPro 3.1

by , 2:45 PM EST, March 1st, 2007

We already have Preview, Acrobat, and Adobe Reader. Why do we need another application that reads PDF documents? Because PDFpenPro lets you edit, modify, and sign the PDFs you work with - and it does all that with a user-friendly interface and an affordable price - that's why.

PDFpenPro is a full-on PDF editor that supports reordering pages in a document, combining pages from multiple documents, creating fillable PDF forms, manipulating or deleting images, adding images, replacing document text, and automating document editing through AppleScript. All of those useful tools are available in an unobtrusive interface that's easy to master.

PDFpenPro 3.1

Reordering pages in a multi-page document is a simple drag-and-drop process, just click and drag. Mixing pages from multiple documents works the same way. OK, there is a trick: I found that I actually had to click on the page number before I could move it in the same document or between two documents. Simply clicking the page thumbnail wouldn't let me move anything.

I often get PDF forms to fill out delivered to me as email attachments that I need to complete and return via fax (puh-leez - that's so 1989). Instead of printing the document so I can fill it in by hand, I open the file in PDFpenPro and add my own text fields. If I need to include my signature, that's stored as a graphic in PDFpenPro's Library palette. After saving my modified document, it's ready for faxing, or hopefully the more civilized technology of email.

Duplicating and moving pages.

A bit more about PDFpenPro's Library palette: It includes some shapes along with views for images and scribbles, meaning free-form lines you draw in your documents, that you add to the Library yourself. I store a couple different versions of my signature in the Library palette so I can drag them into documents. Where did the signatures come from, you ask? I wrote them on a sheet of paper and then scanned them into Adobe Photoshop.

PDFpenPro's Library palette.

The application also includes a slew of editing and commenting tools similar to Adobe Acrobat. It supports cropping images and pages, text edits and text replacement, highlighting and commenting, creating URL hot spots, and building user-fillable forms. For many people, PDFpenPro has all the features you need without the price tag that goes along with Adobe Acrobat. At US$94.95, it is substantially cheaper than Acrobat, but for those willing to sacrifice the ability to create user-fillable PDF forms, PDFpen only costs $49.95.

PDFpenPro's text editing and notation tools.

I did find a minor issue with screen redraws when magnifying a document. At some magnification levels, document text becomes very blurry but still readable. The problem arises from a coding decision at SmileOnMyMac that favors performance over display quality. For PDFpenPro, however, that could substantially slow down the application, so the developers chose efficiency over beauty in this case.

Re-rendering the anti-aliased text while you are editing a document can have a significant impact on performance, and there doesn't seem to be an efficient way to handle that process for off-screen cached copies of files. Applications like Adobe Reader and Preview apparently re-render onscreen text every time you zoom in or out, which isn't as big of a deal since they don't include as many editing capabilities as PDFpenPro.

The Bottom Line
Editing PDF documents and creating fillable PDF forms doesn't necessarily require Adobe Acrobat thanks to PDFpenPro. It's simple interface is not intimidating, and you can figure out many of the application's features without even looking at the manual.

Even though Adobe Acrobat is a critical application that I rely on all the time, I often perform basic PDF edits in PDFpenPro. When I need to complete a form or add a signature in a PDF, I always start with PDFpenPro.


Product: PDFpenPro 3.1

Company: SmileOnMyMac

List Price: $94.95

4 out of 5 stars

Pros: Friendly interface, powerful PDF editing features, affordable.
Cons: Blurry text at some magnifications can be distracting.

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