Acrobat vs PDF Expert: Which is better to work with PDFs?

All of us use PDF documents these days. There are plenty of tools out there, and most of them cost quite a lot. You have to be really careful choosing one — it will be your best friend at work.

Probably, the most popular PDF apps for Mac are Preview, Acrobat and PDF Expert. We won’t review Preview in this piece because it’s good only for pretty basic tasks. What we will do is examine the latter two comparing four parameters: general appearance and design, the speed of work, set of features and price.

General Look

It’s no secret that Acrobat is the most powerful PDF editor out there. You can do anything with you PDFs. This app is basically a nuclear plant control panel.

If you know every command, you’ll probably nail it. But does it have to be THAT complicated? Remember the first time you wanted to find out how to change the annotation color — I bet you had a hard time.

In short, today you don’t have to know how to crank-start your car to enjoy a trip. It’s time to simplify other processes as well.

Let’s take a look at PDF Expert. You can see the differences at first glance. The design is clean and intuitive.

You’re not overloaded with features right from the start.  Yet if want to find something, you’re one click away without having to explore the wild jumble of features. 

If Apple wanted to go all-in with their PDF app, they would probably create PDF Expert! 🙂

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Speed of work

You always have to sign a contract or fix a typo at the very last minute. That’s why the app’s speed is a MUST have feature.

For an experiment, we found a 2000 page old book and scanned it to play with.  (Oh boy, that was tough!)

PDF Expert opened the doc in 1.5 seconds.  Meanwhile, it took almost 10 seconds to load it with Acrobat. At least, we finally managed to count the number of colors of MacOS spinning wheel 🙂

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Could you make Adobe Reader start up slower? I’d like to have enough time to go get a sandwich before I read a one page document.

Let’s take a look at RAM usage.

The difference is not that big although Acrobat makes your Mac sweat a little bit more. If you’re the happy owner of a powerful machine, skip this paragraph.

Features Set

Both apps offer a set of powerful features. In a nutshell, PDF Expert does 99% of what Acrobat boasts in a much easier, intuitive and quicker way. Let’s have a look!

Annotate important parts

Whether you’re a student annotating a book or an architect, marking up a blueprint, you can highlight, underline, strikethrough, add shapes, lines or your own stamps. No need to look for these features; they’re always easily within reach.

Edit PDFs like a Word doc

You can edit text, images, add links and outlines to your PDFs in the most accurate ways. There is no fussing with settings, endless options, and popup windows.

Fill and sign

This feature is so easy to use that it doesn’t need extended explanations. Simply click on the field and fill it out. All the most popular forms are supported.

Merge and extract

Do anything with your pages: merge, replace and extract. These are done with an uncomplicated drag and drop. Easy-ish!

Reduce file size

This one is quite handy if you frequently send PDFs via email or if your hard drive is chuck full of them. Shrink your docs to make them medium or small size.


If you want to delete or white out sensitive texts or hidden data in your documents, this feature is for you. Select a piece of text and black it out. Be careful – no one will see what’s hidden there. Even you!

Let’s talk money

Now, that we’ve got the features covered, let’s talk money. Acrobat DC currently costs $14.99 per month for a subscription or $449 for the full desktop software.

For this buck load Acrobat would have to come over and wash my car, mow the lawn and cook me dinner every night for a month.

As long as you don’t need to create forms or recognize scans, PDF Expert only asks for $60 out of your pocket and it’s jam-packed with all of the necessitiesBuy Now >

Bottom line

Faster than Preview and nearly as feature-packed as Adobe Acrobat DC, PDF Expert is proof the sequel can be superior to the original in every way.

A clean, fast, and stable app. But will it replace Acrobat Pro? Probably no. But as a daily driver in my PDF-intensive life, I prefer PDF Expert to both the Adobe product and Preview. So I’m glad I got it.