Just because Adobe conceptualized and developed the PDF format doesn’t simply mean that it is the only source of quality PDF software out there. There are many others too, and Wondershare PDFelement stands at the forefront among them. It is a powerful tool that not only enables you to view, create and edit PDF documents, but also brings a range of other useful functionalities that few other programs in its league do.
You can download the limited-period trial version of the software for free from the official Wondershare PDFelement website, but for unrestricted access to the full range of functionalities, you will have to pay a one-time fee. And that brings us to the two most important aspects this review will be focusing on:
- Is PDFelement worth the money you’ll be paying?
- Does it have all the features that you would normally expect to your all-in-one PDF software?
The short and simple answer to the first question is – yes, it is. Considering all the features the PDFelement brings you, the one-time fee is indeed quite nominal. But we’ll get there in a bit. Before that, first just have a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of the software.
PDFelement is available for both PC (Microsoft Windows) and Mac (Apple Mac OS) users. iOS users can also download the PDFelement app from the Apple App Store, although Wondershare is yet to come up with an Android variant of the software. That’s indeed a bummer, although we don’t think it’s going to stay that way considering the already massive, and rapidly expanding Android user-base in the world (and the irresistible revenue potentials it brings along).
The key functions of PDFelement include:
- Create PDF: For creating PDF documents from scratch.
- Edit PDF: For modifying existing PDF documents using an array of built-in tools
- Convert PDF: Allows conversion of PDF documents to 17 different file formats.
- Combine PDF: To enable the merger of two or more PDF documents into a single file.
- OCR support (costs extra): Optical Character Recognition (OCR) allows the conversion of different types of documents such as scanned paper documents or images.
To help execute these five main functions, PDFelement deploys a range of sophisticated, but relatively easy-to-use features. We will discuss them one by one as we move into the next section.
When you first activate PDFelement, it will immediately take you to the home screen. The User Guide also pops open every time you launch the software, just in case you need any help. Just check the “Do not show this at the startup” option if you don’t want to need the User Guide.
As you can see below, the user interface (UI) is pretty neat and simple – there’s no over-the-top element just for the sake of the aesthetics. All four main features are easily accessible and listed right there at the center of the home screen.
The tabbed ribbon is pretty standard and self-explanatory – so no difficulties there either.
To create, save, print, share, or optimize a PDF file, just click on “File” from the tabbed ribbon and then choose the option from the menu as per your requirement. While creating a new PDF document, you will be asked to specify its size and the type (landscape or portrait) upfront. From the standard tabloid to A4, there are five different sizes to choose from.
Similarly, you can edit the text in the file or add images and hyperlinks by simply clicking on the “Edit” tab and then choosing the required option.
To convert a PDF document to another format, just go to the “Convert PDF” section on the home screen and follow the instructions. PDFelement can convert all your PDF files to 17 different formats, including .docx, .doc, .xlsx, .xls, .pptx, .ppt, .hwpx, .hwp, GIF, JPG, BMP, PNG, RTF, TXT, HTML, and TIFF. You can also find the shortcut to some of the most commonly used formats right there on the ribbon.
For privacy, you have the Password Protect feature that prevents unauthorized access and modification of your PDFs. It’s simple to add passwords – just open the file you want to add a password to, click on “Project” on the tabbed ribbon, and then choose “Password”.
You can also create a personalized encrypted digital signature and quickly sign PDFs. You can find all signature related options under “Project” on the tabbed ribbon.
Another important feature in PDFelement is the program’s ability to create fillable PDF forms. You can do so by choosing from the available templates, or you can even create your own custom forms with buttons and text fields. All form-related options can be accessed from the “Form” section in the ribbon.
OCR is typically one of the trickiest features for any PDF software to nail down. This is hardly surprising, though. After all, we still have some distance to traverse before perfection is attained in the underlying technology required for a program to flawlessly scan a non-text file and recognize the text within.
Based on our tests, the OCR feature in PDFelement seems to be handy. It managed to recognize the texts without any major error on nearly 70% of the times. But at the same time, there were times when the program simply couldn’t recognize strings of texts here and there. For example, “Allotment of seats” became “Ail0t’ment ot’ seats”. This is not the program’s fault – OCR is intrinsically complicated and few software have a higher accuracy rate than PDFelement.
Other key features include:
- Extract: Useful for extracting specific pages from a larger PDF document to create another PDF file. Can be accessed from Page > Extract.
- Redact: A feature that allows you to permanently remove sensible and/or unwarranted texts and images. To use this feature, click on Project and then choose the Redact option.
- Watermark: A good way to deter possible unauthorized reuse or replication of your work.
- Annotations: Perfect way to add notes, create custom stamps, highlight text, or add underline and strikeout.
Pricing and final verdict
The full version Wondershare PDFelement is available under three licensing agreements – two single-user and one multi-user. All of them offer free annual updates and customer support.
Both single-user licensing agreements are basically the same except for one major difference. The Standard version comes without OCR support unlike the Pro version which costs almost $20 more.
Meanwhile, the multi-user licenses are available under the pay-as-you-go model (both standard and pro options available to choose from).
With all the aforementioned features taken into account, the pricing of Wondershare PDFelement seems quite reasonable. Although, we believe there was no need for two different single-user licensing agreements considering that most consumers would probably want to go for PDFelement Professional (with OCR) instead of the Standard variant that costs only $20 less.
Our final verdict: The software is well capable of serving both home users, as well as office users with the utmost competency.