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PDFpenPro Reviews

20 July 2020

Advanced PDF toolkit for HTML conversion and more.

1
roof911
29 January 2020
Version: 11.2.1

Most helpful

Spent 3 hours trying to add form fields to a document. When added, they could not be filled. You would think the form could then be saved as a template with the fields for filling repeatedly, like a doc for pulling a permit, but not apparently. Ultra counter intuitive. Ultimately bad enough that I am counting the cost a loss and going back to pen and paper, and oh, I have had versions of this software for at least 4 years, and never found the logic behind its design remotely rational. I do not recommend this software.
(4)

How would you rate PDFpenPro app?

Read 120 PDFpenPro User Reviews

5
mcm30114
17 September 2020
Version: 12.1.2
Been using this app for generations. Yes, you can do a lot with Apple's Preview app for simple markups, but when it comes to doing heavy lifting with merging docs, rearranging pages, and beyond, this is the power tool to use.
(0)
Dr-Sparks
28 April 2020
Version: 11.2.2
As of today Smile pushes yet another "upgrade", PDFpenPro 12. Upgrade charge "only" $35. I have lost count of how many years and times this has happened.
(2)
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1
roof911
29 January 2020
Version: 11.2.1
Spent 3 hours trying to add form fields to a document. When added, they could not be filled. You would think the form could then be saved as a template with the fields for filling repeatedly, like a doc for pulling a permit, but not apparently. Ultra counter intuitive. Ultimately bad enough that I am counting the cost a loss and going back to pen and paper, and oh, I have had versions of this software for at least 4 years, and never found the logic behind its design remotely rational. I do not recommend this software.
(4)
5
gracevon1
23 October 2019
Version: 11.1.2
This is definitely the best alternative to Acrobat Pro. It is indeed a workhorse. I am a long-time user of PDFpenPro but have also used Adobe Acrobat and other competing apps. Other apps have better marketing, but PDFpenPro really gets the job done. For instance, with PDFpenPro, I can create interactive forms, apply digital signatures, batch OCR, and with the latest version, view the same document in two screens! Someone mentioned it is the swiss-army knife of PDF editors for Mac and I agree 100%. I contact support regularly if I come across any issues and they are very responsive. Bugs? All apps have bugs and PDFpenPro seems to have less of it over time since they've been around for awhile, but a responsive developer who really works to address it is much appreciated. I am looking forward to additional developments of PDFpenPro that can bring the app even closer to the offerings of Acrobat, but better than Acrobat. As more and more developers are going subscription, I don't mind the optional $30 upgrade to the next major version. You are not "locked-in" to a subscription, and the app is yours forever. For those who "accidentally" upgrade, there is a notice informing users when it is a paid upgrade. They also send you an email when they release a major version to let you know. Nothing of quality is free and needs maintenance. It takes resources to create and develop software. I've seen great apps or apps with potential come and go because the developers can no longer support the app-- very sad thing. If you find the app useful, I think it is worthwhile to make sure you are running the latest version. Smile's upgrade cost is pretty reasonable for their work. The alternative is to lock yourself into yet another subscription. Adobe is too expensive and non-intuitive. PDFpen Expert as subscription without OCR, without form creation capabilities, without export features is a bit too high for a pretty UI. PDFelement seems to use other brands to marketing their own product and their quality is poor. You want pretty or you want a workhorse? Frankly, I don't think a PDF editing program should be a subscription program unless it is web-based or there is some server or Cloud service involved where you are sharing data across a team of users and security is a concern.  Another alternative is to buy various apps piecemeal but the cost, time, and maintenance is even higher than just paying for PDFpenPro and upgrading every year. I am happy investing in a good product that would provide me value long term and don't want to have to constantly switch, buy, and learn how to use new apps to have it accomplish what I need.
(2)
5
Drdul
03 September 2019
Version: 11.1
PDFpenPro is the best alternative I found to Acrobat Pro (which I want to get away from as only the subscription version will work on macOS 10.15 Catalina). I looked at a bunch of different PDF editors, and only PDFpenPro has every feature of Acrobat Pro that I depend on. Pro tip: Download the free ebook Take Control of PDFpen, which does a great job of explaining how to use every feature. At $125 it's not inexpensive, but I managed to get it at 20% off (I found the page on Smile's website offering a 20% discount through a Google search, and was pleased to discover that the coupon for PDFpen also worked for PDFpenPro). Annual upgrades are $30, which if I upgrade every year works out to a reasonable $2.50 per month.
(0)
Andy49
19 August 2019
Version: 11.1
11.1 does not open on Sierra anymore. Support is terrible. No response in 3 days. They need to update to Apple's new protocols.
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0.5
Alvin-H
29 June 2019
Version: 11.0.3
Yet another up date... that change version number but now "major" features , only need more money from costumer, I used this app form v6, v7, v8, v9, skip v10 and this time I'll try another app. small change for new price, this price not fit my bill. I'm leaving..
(2)
0.5
MoirSomeone
31 May 2019
Version: 11.0.2
So bloody expensive and yet when I tried converting a web page to a P.D.F. document it barely did a better job than one or more free online converters do!
(2)
0.5
Mindplay
16 May 2019
Version: 11.0
Another spring, another major version. Holy cow!!! Look at that shit!!! It's so radically improved since last major version, I can't quite recognize it.
(7)
StrictlyBagel
16 May 2019
Version: 11.0
I've been using PDFpen since version 1 and upgraded diligently up to version 9. I skipped version 10 when I realized that Smile forks out a new upgrade each April/May for $30 and that the new features were meeehh at least. Sadly, version 11 hasn't changed that. Split view and font bar isn't something I really need. Also, the competition has become more and more interesting with PDFExpert. I'm back and forth between the two apps, but given that I've registered version 9 pf PDFpen and PDFExpert around the same time.... my bang for the buck has definitely been better with PDFExpert. Especially as they keep on improving the app without asking for $$$ (for exmaple, introducing editing with version 2).
(6)
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3
Esekel
05 March 2019
Version: 10.2.2
Have been using it for years. Works well, but i dont like how the company pushes their updates. I have updated many times only to find out it was a paid update and having to spend time to reinstall the old version.
(2)
5
Jimw
20 February 2019
Version: 10.2.1
Having seen a number of PDF products either released or upgraded recently and many of these costing between $10 & $100 triggered this review: I am an early adopter of PDFpen and upgraded when PDFpenPro was released, I still remember when Smile Software was nothing but a small kiosk at MacWorld., which is where I first purchased it, Since then may other less capable 'competitors ' have come and gone often with great ideas and promises but with little to show for them. Smile has continually strived to improve this product, which I regard as the 'Swiss Army Knife' of PDF tools, and continually releases free updates and occasional major fee based upgrades, often spaced years apart. I have always received satisfactory support from them That said as oly having an ocassional need to edit or modify PDF'' the GUI can sometimes be challenging to deploy the exact tool you are looking for. However that is almost always with any product that is as versatile as this is. If I was a frequent user I suspect any interface challenges would disappear within a few weeks of use, So after years of perusing the 'competition', I feel that if users are interested in serious PDF editing, the have two choices. They can either pickup a bunch of products, which may do a few tasks very well, but be left with a bunch of piecemeal Apps that do not work together,; or they can purchase this product and have a completely integrated PDF toolbox that has a long track record with decent support and maintenance that will handle most any PDF task as well or better than the competition. The choice is yours. But from what I have seen, in the end the piecemeal approach will likely cost about the same if not more then just taking a deep breath and deciding to purchase this product. That said, I am strictly a satisfied user with no connection to the company or anyone else associated with the company. I have not been compensated in any manner for this review.
(2)
thojac65
06 January 2019
Version: 10.2.1
I no longer need this application
(1)
5
Nicke.Martin
28 November 2018
Version: 10.2.1
g0000111dd
(0)
5
Giant-Microbe
31 October 2018
Version: 10.2
I was tired of the horrific interface and price gouging tendencies with Acrobat and have settled on PDFpenPro after trying several others. I think the price is fair for all it offers and I have not missed Acrobat one bit since making the jump. It is a clean installing application and does not feel like a "second class" citizen on my MacBook Pro. I have found myself delighted when I need to do something different to the many PDFs I work with and it just works. Of course your use case may differ for some specific work types. I read and process many PDFs with some production of PDFs from scans or word processing environments and have been very pleased. I will continue to upgrade at what seems to me to be a very reasonable pace and price.
(0)
3
gsteer
08 June 2018
Version: 10.1
Product is OK, business practices stink
Within 3 months of purchasing PDFPenPro, a new version was offered, for US$30. I've never had a vendor that doesn't offer free upgrades for purchasers within 12 months. Now the older version just doesn't work at all anymore. On principle I will buy a competitor product.
(1)
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4.5
dwp-1
11 April 2018
Version: 10.0
This is a great pdf editing, annotating, OCR, etc. Smile Software does appear to work hard a making this a better app by squashing bugs and adding features. None of the new features are important to me yet I feel obligated to upgrade or I'll get behind when the next update comes along in about a year. So I spent the $30 on nothing of any interest to me. That aside I have not found a better PDF app with the numerous features provided by PDFpenPro that would make me even slightly consider switching. SmileSoftware has been around a long time and for me that is important. I want to work with an app that is going to be here still developing and adding features, six months from now. It seems there are many new PDF editing app's on the market. I am willing to bet 10 to 1 that 9 out of 10 won't be here a year from now. Umm, those are some weird odd's. Keep up the great works SmileSoftware
(1)
Dr-Sparks
11 April 2018
Version: 9.2.3
PDFpenPro 9.2.3 of 07 Nov 2017 is no longer the newest version. I just got this in an email:

"It's that time again. Time for a big app launch with the features you've been asking for all year. We're proud to announce … PDFpenPro 10 … Download v10 to upgrade.. A single user upgrade is only US $30."

Just a few months ago I paid $40 to upgrade from 8 to 9. Has Smile added itself to the ever-growing list of developers with ever more frequent paid upgrades with hard-to-find differences and documentation (user manuals) lagging years behind?
(1)
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4
l-bradac
23 March 2018
Version: 9.2.3
Nice app. I would very like to have more OCR and exporting languages, for example my Czech language. Thanks
(0)
Meitnik
17 March 2018
Version: 9.2.3
Can anyone tell me what OCR engine they are using. I discovered it does a better job than Prizmo does with mixed languages and handles underlined printed text better too. However, there are number of missing Mac UI problems I found thats putting me off. The manual needs tweaking to be more clearer about how to do stuff. Do they offer cross-grades, pen to pro? Just for the OCR I might do PDFpen for now. Thanks.
(0)
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5
Rikyman
04 March 2018
Version: 9.2.3
Love it, at least is PDF Pen Pro is not a subscription service, very powerful app for Mac and a good alternative to some other apps.
(0)
Gary30
08 November 2017
Version: 9.2.3
If I want to upgrade from 8 to 9, I cannot just do so. I need to download the new version and it will tell me the price. Why won't they just say the price before I (presumably) enter a bunch of information. Probably because the upgrade price comes with enough sticker shock to turn people away. Better to get them "into the process" first. Such is the thinking of the kind of marketing puke who probably came up with this lame upgrade system. Or maybe a kind person will post the price here. Or not. (I don't need version 9 but I might go for it--if the price is right.)

p.s. Yes. Multiple 5 star reviews from new reviewers on one day is pretty suspicious. Another pukey marketing decision. I suspect.
(1)
4
macspectrum
07 November 2017
Version: 9.2.3
if u want to edit PDF or scan/edit OCR foiles on your mac PDFpen pro 9.2 is a 'must have' program !
(0)
Rob-h
08 September 2017
Version: 9.2
Wow, three people who all joined on September 7th, all left a brief review of one product, all gave it 5-Stars... That's amazing ;-)
(3)
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5
theprin
07 September 2017
Version: 9.2
Long time user. Easy to use. Signature --no prob--fill in questionnaire--no prob Good customer service
(0)
5
delshome
07 September 2017
Version: 9.2
I’m a retired guy dealing with everyday household material and have used PDFpenPro daily for many years. PDFpen permits me to reduce the size of downloaded PDF manuals; for example, remove foreign language sections plus inserting extra pages with model and serial numbers. I add clarifications comments to poorly written instructions. I easily combine photos with word documents when building my own PDF documents. Most importantly, I can rearrange the order of PDF pages if new material needs to be added.
(0)
5
photo-17
07 September 2017
Version: 9.2
I have used PDFPen Pro for several years. It's an indispensable part of my toolbox. Revisions, comments, markups are all part of my daily routine. PDFPen Pro makes it a breeze. With each revision it only becomes more useful.
(0)
5
johngagardner
07 September 2017
Version: 9.2
Indispensable, PDFPenPro is a robust PDF tool so far does everything I've asked of it and more. The form creation is excellent, the OCR and conversion facilities likewise.
(0)
5
afm369
26 July 2017
Version: 9.1
Please read tobyscott2 comment.
(0)
5
jlsabo
18 May 2017
Version: 9.0.2
I have now used PDFpen Pro for several years, and I just wanted let you know how much I appreciate the software. One concern that I had previously was that I could not see comments made by the co-editor of our Newsletter. He made the comments using Adobe Acrobat. I noticed in your last update that the comment issue was solved. Your software is awesome. I love the form feature, the conversions to MS programs. You have my support, and I will continue to recommend your program.
(0)
4
Full Score
14 April 2017
Version: 9.0
A problem updating v8 to v9 from WITHIN the app. A demo Smile watermark appears on each document. Downloading and replacing the app fixes it.
(0)
4.5
dwp-1
12 April 2017
Version: 9.0
I've been using PDFPenPro for years to help me go paperless. I have tried many of the others like PDF Expert but I always end up back in PDFPenPro. It performs every function I need with the exception of one. Every once in awhile I will get a PDF+TEXT file and the OCR layer is not accurate. I can't find a way to delete that layer and create a new one. The OCF engine in PDFPenPro is so much better than the competition it would be nice to be able to eliminate the inaccurate OCR layer and replace it with the OCR engine of PDFPenPro.. SmileSoftware offers two versions of PDFPen, PDFPen & PDFPenPro. The pro version has the extra features a person who creates and edits PDF's would use but the ordinary person could get by just fine with PDFPen. I highly recommend this app, the customer service is great, feature rich and they consistently update their two key app's PDFPen & TextExpander. I'd give them a 5 star review but I don't want there heads to get to big. Besides I want to keep them reaching for the 5 star review.
(0)
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Mhoutman
20 March 2017
Version: 8.3.3
I was a big SMILE fan until TextExpander went to a subscription base.

Also PDFPen is marvellous software but especially on iOS, SMILE seem to pay not much attention to both PDFPen end PDFPen Scan anymore

I really like to support devs but lack of software updates brought me to alternatives.
(2)
Gary30
08 November 2016
Version: 8.2.1
I have PDF Pen Pro V6 and avoid upgrading because I always seem to want to do text editing on PDF's and find the workflow for simply selecting existing text and then editing it to be arcane and (so it seems to me) flakey. I don't do a lot of it, but always fumble. Has--not adding new text boxes--just simple document text editing improved or changed in version 8? From screenshots I infer the answer is maybe "no."
(1)
Jweisbin
05 October 2016
Version: 8.2
I bought version 7 on the app store. there doesn't appear to be an upgrade price for version 8 - I have to pay another $85 to "upgrade"?
(0)
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Tony-Aguila
16 September 2016
Version: 8.1
I don’t wish to leave a review at this point, not until macOS Sierra is officially out. I’m running the release candidate (10.12 (16A320)) and the first thing I noticed was the clumsy way it handles text editing. I wondered why I stopped using this a while back but I decided to buy the upgrade anyway, just to keep me current. Now I remember why I dropped it in favor of Acrobat Pro, and now, Acrobat DC. I really wanted to get back to using this app, and hopefully their Sierra-compatible version will work better.
(0)
4
cassiope
06 July 2016
Version: 8.0.2
Its a decent upgrade, specially with the portfolio implementation - alas not supported on many platforms, making it something only PDFPenPro. It still lacks the possibility to embed vid-links in PDF, or audio links that are playable from within the PDF. Else a good prodiuct - in development.
(0)
4
Alanterra
27 June 2016
Version: 8.0.1
I have been using PDFPen for a long time, and just upgraded to PDFPen Pro. Honestly the difference in the feature set between the two is small, but if you need the Pro, then you need it.

I had to put together a 1,000 page pdf in a day, and PDFPen Pro made it easy. My experience is that with many apps, they work until you need them for a large project, and then you find the bugs and the limitations. While I did find a few bugs in PDFPen Pro, they all could be worked around, and I was able to compile about 40 separate documents into a single document, annotate them, create a table of contents, adjust for last minute changes coming in from colleagues, and create a protected pdf really quite easily. I never had to wait for the thumbnails to be drawn (I'm looking at you, Acrobat), and every change was easy and I almost never had to refer to the manual. When I had to completely undo and redo everything (after I changed my mind about some issues), it was very straightforward.

While I didn't use OCR on this project, I use OCR in PDFPen all the time, in both English and Spanish, and mostly it is better than Acrobat's (at least the version that I have). I love the fact that PDFPen will show you the "OCR layer" as a separate item, which makes it much easier to understand what is going on.

I have never liked Acrobat. I keep around the older versions because it seems to just get harder to use in each revision. And, if you have to purchase Acrobat outside of a collection of Adobe apps, the cost is totally beyond belief. And then the learning curve (at least the last version I own, Acrobat X) is very slow.

PDFPen is a welcome addition to my suite of pdf applications. I use Skim for day-to-day reading, because I like its user interface the best of all pdf readers, and I like its way of adding notes to a pdf. I use Acrobat Reader and Preview to make sure that my pdfs display correctly (completely unrelated code in these two apps, so they have different bugs in displaying pdfs). I use Photoshop to convert pdf's to image files, because I like the control it gives me.

And I use PDFPen (and now PDFPen Pro) to edit and compile pdfs.

My only complaint (the 1/2 star deduction) is that PDFPen Pro uses Apple's new document versioning and Save As code. I find this a total time waster, and just a bad idea. But fighting with Apple is like fighting city hall — you aren't going to win, even when they are wrong.
(0)
5
dezmiklos
24 June 2016
Version: 8.0.1
Could not live without it. A terrific tool.
(0)
5
evoth-1
22 June 2016
Version: 8.0.1
I've been using PDFPen for many, many years and am very pleased with its performance. Have also been pleased with their EXCELLENT customer service! When I first began using PDFPen, I had a few questions which were promptly and completely answered. I highly recommend this product.
(0)
5
Brighton-Pete
19 May 2016
Version: 8.0.1
Great app for creating and viewing PDF's. Not to mention - very easy to use. Their customer service is also excellent, with replies that day or the next.
(0)
5
john-141
30 April 2016
Version: 8.0
I've used PDFPen Pro for many years and find it a really effective tool for both creating and editing PDFs. It does not suffer the bloating and is nowhere near as expensive as competing products, but always does the job. What's equally important is that PDFPen Pro is backed by the great customer service of Greg and the Smile team.
(0)
Mhoutman
27 April 2016
Version: 8.0
I will not update and will go further with PDF Expert. Not that much new features to paying/or justify another update. Feels bad also after the recent TextExpander pricing debacle. In general Smile seems now more focused on corporate users so I am glad their are excellent alternatives (also for TextExpander)
(3)
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5
KatRoss
27 April 2016
Version: 8.0
I cannot stand Acrobat, always issues and complications! PDFpenPro it's simple to use and costs a fraction of Adobe A.
(1)
5
tobyscott2
26 April 2016
Version: 8.0
I have been using PDFPen for a LONG time. A few years ago upgraded to PRO. It is great and I have almost no problems with it. If I do have any problem or question, customer support gets back to me within minutes and solves whatever it is. I really like being able to edit pdf's and work with them. I use PDFPen Pro every day. Great application.
(4)
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ylluminate
26 April 2016
Version: 8.0
Very unhappy with the seeming increase in paid upgrades. Used to be thrilled with this product, but it seems that we're getting too little for the last couple "major" updates.
(7)
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5
tommy-10
28 February 2016
Version: 7.3.4
I'm a counselor and educator. PDFpenPro has become an indispensable tool that I use on an daily basis. It is stable, CPU friendly, easy to use, has a great workflow, and does exactly what it claims, and is sold at a competitive price.. Also, the developer is responsive and provides frequent updates that include improvements and bug fixes. I could not ask for anything more. Before picking this up, I read several reviews . . . most of which are positive. There were a few negative comments, but I have not experienced any problems whatsoever. I do not miss Acrobat, and I have NO buyers remorse. GREAT APP!
(0)
5
S13cybergal
27 February 2016
Version: 7.3.4
I am legally blind with Cerebral Palsy. I use the "invert Colors" option on all my devices. Reading regular printed material is almost impossible. PDFPen has been invaluable for me. I scan Bible Study Exercises, Our Sunday School book and even an entire print book I got as a gift. My rent has gone up and my fixed income keeps me from spending $10 for an ebook.

Being able to read sitting up straight with no eye strain is a God-send. Since my handwriting is shaky, I can fill out any form with my computer thanks to this program. Thanks for a great product.

Tried other scanning software (image capture and preview) and found it very confusing. PDFPen makes sense to me. I'm doing work instead of pawing through help information to attempt to devine what a particular graphic means.

BTW support is very good, as is their on-line manual and video tutorials.
(0)
3.5
brock-benjamin
10 January 2016
Version: 7.3.4
Support is always responsive. Have had a couple issues with bugs and also features, but overall great product that keeps me from having to buy adobe pro.
(0)
3.5
DavidB8281
02 January 2016
Version: 7.3.4
PDFPenPro does all I need it to do. It's simple to use and does what it promises at a reasonable price. Where it really wins however is the customer support service - second to none.
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