Advantages of free PDF tools for freelancers.

  • Efficiency: Get contracts signed and invoices paid faster with digital documents and e-signatures.
  • Control: Combine and organize files to keep everything in the right place. And no matter what file type you start out with, you can convert it to PDF to lock in formatting and content.
  • Easy collaboration: Stay in sync with collaborators or clients. Share a PDF with a link, and get notified when reviewers add comments or highlights.

Free PDF tools for freelancers.

Whatever the gig, freelancing can be hard work. Adobe has both free online tools and a free app option to help you in your freelance work. Whether you need to occasionally convert a document to PDF or you’re frequently using PDFs to collaborate with clients, Adobe has the free tool that you need. These free tools for PDF documents make it easier to draft and sign contracts, collaborate, share work, and stay organized.

With all the freedom comes all the responsibilities.

Freelancing is great for people who want to work flexible hours, choose their own projects and clients, and skip office politics. But going it alone means you have to take care of your whole business. As a freelancer, you’re the marketing department, client relationship manager, creative team, and billing department all in one, so you need easy tools for working with electronic documents. You also need to find ways to be successful working from anywhere.

Check out these free online tools and learn how they can help you live the freelance life.

A freelance worker on their lunch break checking a PDF on their cell phone using Adobe Acrobat

1. Convert other file formats to PDF.

Create PDFs to make sure your clients see your resume, cover letter, and work product exactly as you want them to be seen. Whether your file is Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, JPG, or PNG, you can convert it to PDF online. With a PDF, you can lock in formatting and ensure a consistent viewing experience on desktop or mobile. Just drag and drop the file or click Select a File.

If you need to make significant changes to a PDF file, you can even convert PDFs to Microsoft Word files, PowerPoint presentations, Excel files, or JPGs twice per month.

Try these tools to convert to PDF and convert PDF to Word for free.

2. Combine files.

Keep your portfolio, proposals, asset collections, invoices, or other documents together so you can send as few attachments as possible. With the Combine Files tool in Adobe Acrobat, you can merge multiple PDFs into one right in your web browser. After you combine PDF files, it’s easy to organize individual pages and share your merged document.

If you find you’ve forgotten a page or just want to add a new one, it’s easy to insert a page or reorder PDF pages. This is also a great way to keep your own tax documents together so you’re organized when tax season rolls around. You can also rotate PDFs if they show up sideways.

Try a free online tool to merge PDFs.

3. Fill and sign PDF forms.

Going paperless saves time and money. Take care of contracts in minutes so you can get busy doing the actual work. And once the work is completed, you can submit electronic invoices quickly so you get paid faster. It’s easy to fill form fields and add text boxes, checkmarks, or your signature or initials. Then you can share your PDF file securely in just a few clicks. The recipients will receive a link or attachment by email.

Do all this with a tool like the Acrobat Fill & Sign tool. Plus, it’s easier to take care of 1099 and W-9 tax forms online instead of printing them out. Just enter your information and add your signature. And record keeping is a cinch because you can keep the document in Adobe cloud storage.

Try the Fill & Sign PDFs tool.

4. Add comments.

With PDFs, you can streamline feedback from clients and add sticky notes and highlights for yourself or your collaborators. Use the Edit PDFs with Comments tool to annotate any PDF file. You can also add highlights, strike through or underline content, or use the drawing tool to freehand draw whatever you want.

Once you’ve added all your comments, you can download the annotated PDF and send it to others by email or with an online link to review. If you’re working with multiple reviewers, everyone can add comments to the same PDF so all the info you need stays in one place.

Try this Edit PDFs tool with a free online PDF editor.

5. Compress PDFs.

Large project files or portfolios can get pretty unwieldy. With a free Acrobat account, you can resize them and make them easier to handle two times per month with the Compress PDF tool. Without leaving your browser, you can reduce the file size for PDFs of up to 2GB. The PDF compressor balances an optimized file size against the expected quality of images, fonts, and other file content, so you won’t lose quality.

Try the Compress PDFs tool.

How to choose the best free PDF tools.

Since PDF is such an important format, there are many different PDF tools out there for you to choose from. Here are some tips for finding a free PDF tool that meets your needs.

1. Identify your freelancing needs.

First, understand the different functions that you are hoping a free PDF tool will serve. Maybe you need to send contracts to clients, so you need an e-signature tool. If you tend to send documents back and forth for refining, you’ll need a tool that will allow you to edit PDFs or at least annotate and add comments. Are you sending large files, or is compressing files not a need for your work? Once you’ve identified your freelancing needs, you can find a free PDF tool that will meet them.

2. Source free PDF tools.

There are countless free PDF tools available online. To be safe, you may want to take recommendations from friends or at least from reviews. Some of your PDF tools may work in a browser, and many require downloading an app which you could upgrade if you find later that you need more features. Choose tools that have good reviews and have the features that meet your freelancing needs.

3. Test and compare the features.

Once you’ve determined your needs and sourced free tools, you can launch into testing and comparing the tools you’ve selected. Remember that the features that matter the most are the ones that will serve the functions you’ve identified as priorities.

A freelance pottery maker taking eCommerce photos of their latest pastel bowls and a vase
A freelance pottery maker editing the PDF sell sheets of their new pottery products in Adobe Acrobat

How to test free PDF tools.

To make sure you’re using a free PDF resource that is efficient for your work, you’ll want to test multiple tools that you find.

1. Allocate a mixture of PDF document types to test.

Since you likely have several uses in mind for a PDF tool based on your freelancing needs, make sure that you have a PDF that you can test for each function. For example, you could have a PDF set aside to test e-signature and form-filling functions and another to test compressing PDF files.

2. Test making changes to text, adding or replacing images, and more.

See what it’s like to use your free PDF tools to edit or annotate text and multimedia. As you’re testing these capabilities, keep your needs in mind and think about your personal criteria for good performance.

3. Compare how the free PDF tools performed.

When you’re comparing performance, keep multiple aspects of the PDF tool in mind. Was it clunky to turn your PDF into a form, or was the tool intuitive to use? Did the tool have all of the capabilities you identified as needs for your freelancing work? Was it fast and reliable? Do you think it will contribute to your efficiency?

4. Choose the free PDF tool that suits you.

Choosing a free PDF tool comes down to your needs and preferences. Maybe you don’t mind using a more powerful PDF tool that isn’t as intuitive, or maybe your priority is having an app that is easy to use and has plenty of customer service in case something goes wrong. Perhaps you can find an app or online tool that has just enough of both for your needs. You’ve evaluated how the tool performs, but the real evaluation that matters is how it aligns with your priorities for your work.

Remember that if you get in the groove of using this tool and find that your freelancing needs expand, you may end up purchasing a paid version of the same tool. Keep the paid versions of the tools in mind, since you want to have the best if you end up purchasing.

Upgrade your tools to tap into even more power and freedom.

If you need more advanced PDF editing features, start a free trial of Adobe Acrobat Pro. With Acrobat Pro for Mac or Windows, you can edit PDF documents to fix a typo, change fonts, or add new content. You can add images and bulleted or numbered lists, and you can insert page numbers or watermarks.

With a free trial, you also get unlimited use of other premium tools. You can turn scanned documents into editable, searchable PDFs with optical character recognition (OCR). Redact parts of your PDF to permanently remove sensitive information, and add password protection. As a freelancer, you depend on your tools, so having the right ones at your fingertips makes going it alone a little easier.

Try Acrobat Pro

Frequently asked questions.

Is there a completely free PDF editor?

Adobe Acrobat provides all users with free PDF editing tools like View, Add Comments, Highlight, Fill & Sign, and Share, all with no limitations on web or desktop. Free users can also use enhanced features included in the Acrobat Pro subscription up to two times per month.

What is the best free software for PDF?

Adobe Acrobat is a great solution for freelancers and anyone who needs to work with documents online. Users have the option to use free tools or advanced features with the Acrobat Pro 7-day free trial. With Acrobat, you can make PDF edits on web or desktop, log in to access your Adobe cloud files anywhere, perform multiple PDF-editing functions, collaborate with others in real time, and streamline document tasks like sharing, editing, and storing your PDFs.

Is there a free Adobe editor?

Along with the free editing tools (View, Add Comments, Highlight, Fill & Sign, and Share), you can enroll in the Acrobat Pro 7-day free trial to access enhanced features and tools on web and desktop.

How can I edit PDF files for free?

Create an Acrobat login to enroll in the 7-day free trial to access Acrobat Pro enhanced features. This will unlock tools that you can access from the web or desktop.

  • On the web: Whether you use Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, or another browser, you can find the Acrobat online PDF editor and all the other tools in the Home View. Simply choose the Edit tool and drag and drop your file or select it from your local storage. Edit PDF text or images, and choose to edit single or multiple documents at a time. Acrobat online is also ideal for document collaboration with others and making edits while in your browser.
  • On desktop: Download the Acrobat app and log in to access stored files and edits made from web or mobile apps. Open your file and edit text to perfection.
Mockup of an invoice PDF being edited in Adobe Acrobat with edit icon and dialogue window overlaid

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