Both offer an excellent selection of tools and capabilities that will meet your various PDF needs. But the Pro tier is only marginally more expensive and yet includes the additional features of redacting sensitive data, reducing files sizes, creating PDFs from scanned documents, plus expanded iOS and Android editing abilities. All of this tips the balance in favour of Pro.
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Adobe’s Acrobat DC software has long been the gold standard when it comes to creating, editing and sharing PDFs. There are two main variants: Standard and Pro. Neither are free, so we’ve compared them to help you decide which one is right for you.
Price & plans
Adobe offers a variety of plans for its Acrobat DC suites. There isn’t a permanent purchase available for the latest versions, as Acrobat Standard DC and Pro DC are now subscription-only services. Obviously, how much you pay is dependent on the type of subscription you choose.
On the Standard side you’ll pay the least per month if you sign up to a 1-year plan and pay it all up front. At the time of writing, this costs £156.89/$155.88. Should you prefer to spread the payments out across the 12-months then it’ll put you back £13.14/$12.99 p/m. If you don’t want to commit to a lengthy plan then there is a month by month option, but this is more expensive at £23.26/$22.99.
Pro subscriptions operate in the same way, with the annual upfront amount costing £181.10/$179.88, the 12-month contract coming in at £15.17/$14.99, while the monthly (no commitment) option is £25.28/$24.99.
Adobe does offer a free
7-day trial for the Pro version, so you can test out the various features listed below before signing up to anything.
Adobe Acrobat Standard
Adobe Acrobat Pro
1-year, paid upfront
1-year, paid monthly
Monthly, no commitment
If you really don’t want to go down the subscription route, then there is the option of buying Adobe
Acrobat Pro 2017 and Acrobat Standard 2017 outright. These are fully featured suites, but ones that also come with large price tags. The Pro tier costs £583.20/$449 while the Standard package will set you back £308.40/$299. These are one-time purchases, but don’t include access to the feature updates, cloud services, or mobile apps that accompany the subscription-based packages.
What does the DC stand for?
This is Document Cloud. It works in a similar way to Microsoft’s Office365 in that everyone uses the most up-to-date version of the software, replete with the latest innovations that Adobe come up with. There’s also the ability to store and share files online, plus various PDF-related functions are available via the Android and iOS apps.
Another bonus is that the subscription includes access to the Adobe Sign software, which can be used to allow others to put their digital signatures on documents you create.
Adobe Acrobat DC Standard vs Pro: Features
Both packages come with plenty to tempt potential users. Either one will give you the ability to View PDFs and make comments, add digital signatures and print off the documents. In fact, if this is the full extent of your needs, then you might want to forgo a subscription and instead use the free
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC app. It’s available on Windows, macOS, Android and iOS, with the ability to sync things like your digital signature between the various platforms.
PDF editing features
Those who have more comprehensive needs will find that the Standard and Pro packages come with the ability to amend text and images, create new PDFs or convert existing ones into Word, Excel or Powerpoint documents, as well as being able to do the latter directly from Microsoft Office apps and preventing others from copying or editing information.
Another useful feature offered is being able to merge multiple documents into one single PDF, so different people can work independently on content but with a final result that’s easily printed or shared online. The Pro tier takes this one step further by also allowing PDFs to be created from scanned documents and edited afterwards. This means you can bring in contributions from almost any source, so long as its printed out first.
Additional Pro editing capabilities include the Redact feature that permanently removes information in a PDF (text or text), while there’s also Remove Hidden Content which strips away any metadata that might identify you as the author.
You can also add video, audio, and other interactive content with Pro, plus the iOS and Android tablet versions have greater editing features available such as adding text, reordering and rotating pages.
Sharing and signing
Both allow you to create and send files to clients or collaborators which can then the digitally signed. This could be helpful if you’re trying to organise a trip and need permissions from various parties or getting people to sign-off on a project. The signatures are tracked and reported in real-time so you’ll know if they’re been completed or not.
You can also ask for a group of colleagues or friends to comment on a document, all of which is recorded in a master file online and doesn’t require an account to login. There’s a wide range of tools available for annotating PDFs you’re working on, and you can even produce forms that collect legally binding signatures.
If you’re happy to subscribe, then the price difference between Pro and Standard makes the former an obvious choice. Of course, this will depend on whether you need the additional features on offer. Don’t forget the Acrobat isn’t the only PDF editor out there. Here are
Both offer an excellent selection of tools and capabilities, but the ability to redact sensitive data, reduce files sizes, create PDF from scanned documents, plus the expanded iOS and Android editing features tip the balance in favour of Pro.
Martyn has been involved with tech ever since the arrival of his ZX Spectrum back in the early 80s. He covers iOS, Android, Windows and macOS, writing tutorials, buying guides and reviews for Macworld and its sister site Tech Advisor.