Best PDF readers for Mac (March 2023): Paid and free PDF viewers (2023)

By Brian Turner

Contributions from

Steve Clark

last updated

Find the best PDF readers for Mac so you can view, edit, convert files, and more

Best PDF readers for Mac (March 2023): Paid and free PDF viewers (1)

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  • Best PDF readers for Mac
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The best PDF readers for Mac let you read, manipulate, annotate, and convert PDF files hassle-free on your Apple devices.

Since PDF documents are standardized, they’re a good way to ensure everyone is on the same page, whatever device or operating system they’re on.

All PDF readers - even the best free PDF readers - are ideal when you just need to view a document or make minimal changes to existing content. You can even use most modern browsers as a PDF reader. If you need to make big changes or create a document from scratch, it's worth checking out the best PDF editors.

It's not just PDF viewer tools. Some apps, like Adobe Acrobat and many of the best Adobe Acrobat alternatives even pack in extra useful tools such as eSign software and OCR software to make workflows more efficient.

To help you find the right program for you, we’ve tested, reviewed, and rated the best PDF readers for Mac, comparing interfaces, user-experience, additional features, tools, performance, and value-for-money.

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The best PDF reader for Mac of 2023

Best PDF readers for Mac (March 2023): Paid and free PDF viewers (2)

1. Adobe Acrobat

Best PDF reader for Mac overall


Operating system: macOS, Windows

Plan: Subscription

Billing: Monthly, Annual, Annual billed monthly

Reasons to buy


Many powerful features


Convert to Microsoft Office file formats


Track changes to a PDF

Reasons to avoid


Subscription-only pricing


Advanced tools may be overkill for casual users

Adobe not only invented the trusty PDF document in the first place, but the company has also created some top-notch apps to manage them. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is a great example, and it supports both Windows and Mac devices. The software allows you to create, edit and convert PDF files with ease.

Whether you happen to be using a desktop PC, laptop or tablet, Acrobat lets you turn any paper document into a PDF file. You just have to snap a photo of the piece of paper and upload it to Adobe’s platform, then you can subsequently edit it. Acrobat also lets you convert PDFs into any Microsoft Office file format, preserving all fonts and formatting.

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Thanks to integration with Excel, you can even edit data in scanned tables, making it easier to edit and analyze financial data. Collaboration is also built in, so you can keep track of the changes you and your colleagues make to PDF documents.

Acrobat is capable of detecting the differences between two versions of the same PDF, too. As usual with Adobe, though, pricing is relatively expensive for what you actually get.

Read our full Adobe Acrobat DC review

Best PDF readers for Mac (March 2023): Paid and free PDF viewers (3)

2. Apple Preview

Best free PDF reader for Mac by Apple


Operating system: macOS

Plan: Free

Reasons to buy


Free and built by Apple


Preinstalled on Macs


Annotate, manipulate, and sign documents


Limited but powerful editing tools

Reasons to avoid




Not a full editor

Apple Preview is Apple’s PDF reader and editor built into every modern Mac. And that’s just one of the reasons why it’s one of the best free PDF readers for Mac.

When we reviewed the PDF viewer, we were delighted to find a pre-installed tool that had enough features to fulfill the needs of all but the most demanding PDF users.

Apple Preview is, we felt, “a remarkably powerful tool, offering you the basics, while also allowing you to perform what could be considered pretty powerful editing and note taking functions. You'll even find a PDF merging tool and a seamless way to combine PDFs.”

The software’s limited, but powerful PDF editing tools manifest in the form of reordering, rotating, and removing pages from documents. There’s no option to edit the text of a PDF here.

But, then, Preview is first and foremost a free PDF reader for Mac. A way to instantly open documents. No fuss. No browsers. No third-party PDF reader apps. You can also eSign documents anywhere on the page, and add text and comments to documents - ideal when remotely collaborating with other Mac users.

On that score, Apple’s Acrobat Reader alternative is a stellar option. It’s able to easily compete with Adobe’s software at almost every level. Best of all, there’s no ads.

Read our full Apple Preview review

Best PDF readers for Mac (March 2023): Paid and free PDF viewers (4)

3. pdfFiller

Best Mac PDF reader with no sign-up


Operating system: Web, Mac, iOS, Windows, Android

Plan: Free, Subscription

Billing: Monthly, Annual

Reasons to buy


Available online, on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android


Responsive customer support


Packed with editing tools

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No sign-up to read PDFs on your Mac

Reasons to avoid


Subscription needed to unlock full toolkit


Learning curve can be steep when using advanced tools

pdfFiller proves itself a versatile PDF editor, with apps for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android, alongside a web-based version.

For fast viewing of PDF files, you can upload and read them in your browser, without even having to sign up. And if that’s all you need, the whole process is entirely free. But as a well-tooled PDF reader and editor, you can also make use of a large set of features such as document conversions, online collaboration tools, data redaction, and e-signing. Like everything else in the app, editing PDF content is straightforward, not dissimilar to using a word processor. When we reviewed the service, we were impressed, calling it “a very versatile PDF document management system.”

Once you make any changes to a PDF, you’ll need to sign up to save and export them. This also requires a subscription, with the platform offering three plans - Basic, Plus, and Premium - as well as enterprising licensing for teams.

If you’re looking for a PDF reader for Mac, pdfFiller is worth exploring, given its cross-platform compatibility and abundance of tools. But it’s fairly limited at the free tier, and to really get the most from the service, a subscription is recommended.

Read our full pdfFiller review

Best PDF readers for Mac (March 2023): Paid and free PDF viewers (5)

4. Readdle PDF Expert

Best PDF reader for iPad Pro and Apple Pencil users


Operating system: macOS, iOS, iPadOS

Plan: Subscription, Perpetual License

Billing: Annual, Lifetime

Reasons to buy


Easy-to-use dashboard


Fast search function


Works with iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

Reasons to avoid


Free version might not be enough


Apple-only devices

Readdle PDF Expert is a robust and easy-to-use solution for managing business documents. And with a four-and-a-half star rating in the Mac App Store, it seems to be one of the best PDF readers for Mac users. The software gives you the ability to read, edit and annotate PDF documents from a central dashboard.

One of the great things about PDF Expert is that it’s fast and slick to use. Thanks to smooth scrolling and a fast search function, you can quickly find what you’re looking for across multiple PDF files.

This app lets you edit images, text and links, plus the software can automatically detect fonts, size and opacity of writing. Plus, if you happen to own an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, you can add annotations and notes to documents on-the-go. Like most PDF apps out there, PDF Expert comes with a free download option, but the paid version provides a license for up to three macs.

Read our full Readdle PDF Expert review

Best PDF readers for Mac (March 2023): Paid and free PDF viewers (6)

5. Foxit PDF Editor

Best Mac PDF reader and editor for data security


Operating system: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android

Plan: Subscription, Perpetual License

Billing: Monthly, Annual, Lifetime

Reasons to buy


Cloud tools included as standard


Useful collaborative features


Not as expensive as some competitors

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Reasons to avoid


Lacking some key features


Pro version is Windows-only

Foxit has developed a sophisticated PDF management app, with the Foxit PDF Editor being pushed as a tool that goes well beyond PDF viewing, providing a comprehensive range of tools for manipulating and editing PDF files. And it's available on Mac, iOS, Windows, and Android.

Features include OCR and eSign software, the ability to add and remove watermarks from PDFs, online collaboration tools, and strong PDF converter tools. It also integrates with iManage WorkSite and SharePoint.

For compliant-conscious businesses, the incredibly powerful redaction tools - letting you completely erase sensitive data from a document - will be especially welcomed.

When we reviewed the software for PDF editing, reading, and everything in between, we were impressed by how simple Foxit PDF Editor was to use. "Almost as easy as using a regular word processor," is how we described it.

Pricing varies, depending on whether you opt for the basic PDF editor, or upgrade to the more advanced Pro and Pro+ software.

A free trial is also available, and volume licensing is an option for those who need it. It's certainly worth considering if you're looking for a budget-friendly PDF reader for Mac.

Read our full Foxit PDF Editor review

Best PDF readers for Mac (March 2023): Paid and free PDF viewers (7)

6. PDFelement

Best Mac PDF reader for basics


Operating system: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android

Plan: Subscription, Perpetual License

Billing: Annual, Bi-annual, Lifetime

Reasons to buy


Multiple editing options


Collaboration features


Extensive library of fonts

Reasons to avoid


Pay extra for all features


Occasionally slow

Wondershare has developed a Mac version of the popular PDFelement app, which is positioned as an easy way to edit PDF documents. It gives you the tools to add text, images, links, backgrounds, watermarks, headers and footers to PDF documents.

The software provides an extensive selection of PDF editing options. Not only can you add text to documents, but you can also tweak the font type, size and style. There’s the ability to rotate, extract, replace and crop images too.

PDFelement is a great option for teams in particular, with powerful collaborative capabilities, letting you add sticky notes, comments, text boxes and more. And you can use the tool to fill out business documents such as contracts and tax forms. PDFelement offers a standard package, but for all features you will need there is a professional package.

Read our full PDFelement review

Best PDF readers for Mac (March 2023): Paid and free PDF viewers (8)

7. Kdan PDF Reader

Best PDF reader for file management


Operating system: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android

Plan: Perpetual License

Billing: Free, Lifetime

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Reasons to buy


User-friendly interface


Extensive editing options


iCloud integration

Reasons to avoid


Not quite as powerful as Adobe


Free version is limited

Available to download directly from the Mac App Store, the Kdan PDF Reader is one of the most powerful and popular PDF readers for Mac. It functions as a file manager, file converter and page editor.

With the software, you can easily edit PDF files by adding freehand writing, text boxes, sticky notes, hyperlinks and annotations. And to ensure that important documents don’t get mixed up, you’re able to label them by adding tags and color-coding. What’s more, to keep track of all your saved files, you can make use of an import history feature.

The app works with iCloud, too, meaning you can back up and access saved documents on an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. There’s even compatibility with Dropbox, so you can easily import documents from devices that run on other operating systems.

Overall, you should find the app smooth and quick to use. It’s powered by a proprietary rendering engine, which aims to ensure that large files are processed and loaded without any lag. There is a free version that you can try before you purchase.

Best PDF readers for Mac: FAQs

How to choose the best PDF reader for Mac

Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

The best PDF reader for your Mac depends entirely on what you need to do with your PDF files. If you're only opening the occasional PDF file, a basic PDF reader or even your existing browser could offer all of the functionality you'll ever need.

We recommend choosing a more advanced reader if you need to fill in forms, digitally sign, or make bigger changes to your PDF files. Tools like eSign software and OCR software is common in most PDF editors, for instance, but less so in PDF readers and PDF viewers.

This is also a good option if you frequently view large PDF files or have a few open at once. If you plan to make substantial changes to a PDF file, consider a fully-fledged PDF editor instead.

How we test the best PDF readers for Mac

We downloaded, installed, and used all of the programs in our best PDF readers for Mac guide to make a comparison based on first-hand experience. We carried out a range of everyday PDF tasks to assess ease of use and pushed each reader with multiple large files to gauge performance.

Great software stands on the shoulders of a solid support network, so we took a look at the documentation and other types of assistance offered by each developer. We also explored each product's pricing and subscription models and investigated free and trial versions where available.

As part of our rigorous testing process, we've tested a range of PDF editors and readers across the Apple ecosystem, as well as the best PDF readers for Windowsand thebest PDF readers for Android for cross-platform use.

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Best PDF readers for Mac (March 2023): Paid and free PDF viewers (9)

Brian Turner

Brian has over 30 years publishing experience as a writer and editor across a range of computing, technology, and marketing titles. He has been interviewed multiple times for the BBC and been a speaker at international conferences. His specialty on techradar is Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, covering everything from office suites to IT service tools. He is also a science fiction and fantasy author, published as Brian G Turner.

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