Today’s post discusses three differences between Acrobat Reader and Acrobat Pro to help you decide which program you should use for your PDF projects.
First, a quick note on cost: Acrobat Reader is free. Acrobat Pro is available as an annual subscription called Acrobat Pro DC (DC stands for Document Cloud) and as a one-time purchase called Acrobat Pro 2017. Adobe also offers a streamlined version of Acrobat called Acrobat Standard, which is currently only available for Windows.
The images below show the 2017 versions of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC and Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. Adobe modifies its interfaces occasionally, so your software may look slightly different than these images.
1. Comment Tools (Editing Tools)
What most of us think of as editing tools (e.g., comments, strikethroughs, insertions, highlights), Adobe calls Comment tools. These tools are included in Acrobat Pro and the most up-to-date version of Acrobat Reader.
A significant difference between the two programs is that only Acrobat Pro lets you create and print comment and edit summaries and export comments and edits to Microsoft Word.
Additionally, Acrobat Pro offers more options for selecting and copying text into comment pop-ups.
2. Editing Tools
In the Adobe universe, Editing tools don’t relate to copyediting but to direct manipulation of text and images, such as adding, moving, deleting, and rewriting text boxes, as well as adding images, watermarks, and headers and footers. These tools aren’t available in Acrobat Reader.
3. Microsoft Word Conversion
Acrobat Pro’s Export tool lets you convert PDFs to Microsoft Word files and a variety of other formats. Acrobat Reader doesn’t include this functionality without purchasing an add-on package. For many writers and editors, this is an important, if not the most important, difference between the two programs because many of us need to convert PDFs to Word files in order to edit them with Word’s Track Changes tools.
Here are a few additional features that are only available in Acrobat Pro:
- Combining files
- Comparing files
- Organizing (i.e., moving) pages
- Password protecting files
As you can see, the choice to use Acrobat Reader or Acrobat Pro will depend on your needs. I use Acrobat Pro because I frequently convert PDFs to Word files, compare PDFs, and move pages within PDFs.
If you are an Acrobat Pro beginner or would like to learn new skills, explore my Adobe Acrobat page for a variety of entry-level and advanced tutorials.