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4 Reasons to Avoid Adobe Acrobat Today

Hi there! Have you ever felt frustrated trying to work with PDF files in Adobe Acrobat? You‘re not alone. While Acrobat is widely used, it has some real downsides that more and more people are recognizing. Read on as I walk through four key reasons you may want to avoid Adobe Acrobat and consider other PDF software instead.

What Exactly is Adobe Acrobat?

First, let‘s briefly discuss what Acrobat is for context. Adobe Acrobat is a family of software developed by Adobe Systems to create, view, edit, share, and secure PDF (Portable Document Format) files. The flagship product is Acrobat Pro, which offers the full suite of capabilities.

Acrobat Reader is the free version that allows basic PDF viewing and printing only. Adobe invented the PDF format back in 1993 and has dominated the market ever since. But over 25 years later, Acrobat is starting to show its age compared to newer alternatives.

Reason 1: The Subscription Cost Adds Up

One of the top complaints against Adobe Acrobat is its pricing model. In 2013, Adobe switched Acrobat to a subscription-only model. This means you cannot buy it outright anymore, only rent it ongoing.

The individual subscription for Acrobat Standard now runs $180 per year. Acrobat Pro bumps that annual price up to $240.

For larger businesses, per user Pro licensing is $468 per year. For a team of just 10 employees, that‘s nearly $5,000 in annual subscription fees!

According to 2016 data, over 90% of Acrobat users were still clinging to older perpetual licenses to avoid the subscription. But when those versions stop being supported, businesses will be forced to pay the recurring fees.

So unless you‘re prepared to shell out hundreds per year, it may be time to explore lower-cost alternatives. Many competing PDF solutions still use a one-time payment model and deliver similar functionality.

Reason 2: Core Tools Like Editing Are Paywalled

To make matters worse, Adobe holds some of Acrobat‘s most essential tools hostage behind the paywall. The free Acrobat Reader only allows you to view, print, and sign PDF documents.

Need to edit a PDF by adding or modifying text? Can‘t do it in Reader – you need a paid Pro account. How about filling out PDF forms? Nope, also locked in Pro.

By some estimates, over half of Acrobat‘s users rely solely on the free Reader version. But most people need to at least occasionally edit or annotate PDFs. Adobe knows this and leverages it to drive subscriptions.

In contrast, some competing PDF solutions make core tools like editing and annotations available in their free versions. If basic PDF modification is important to you, Acrobat Reader‘s limitations may be untenable.

Reason 3: It‘s Overloaded with Superfluous Tools

Over 25 years of development have allowed Acrobat to build up an enormous array of features – far more than any average user needs day-to-day.

By one count, the latest Acrobat Pro boasts over 100 different tools for manipulating PDF documents. For many, this vast array of options causes confusion and clutter.

Simple tasks get bogged down as users hunt through the crowded interface trying to find the right tool. Valuable time gets wasted just figuring out how to make Acrobat work the way you want.

Clean, streamlined PDF apps with just the essential features neatly organized can help you fly through common tasks more efficiently. Acrobat‘s bloat and disorganization may have you looking for a lightweight alternative.

Reason 4: Adobe Uses Proprietary Lock-In

Storing your business‘s important documents in Acrobat‘s proprietary formats and ecosystem can cause problematic vendor lock-in down the road.

Once embedded in Acrobat, those PDFs become dependent on Adobe‘s software to maintain full fidelity and editing capabilities. Migrating later to non-Adobe tools risks losing data or formatting in the transition.

Some competing PDF solutions use open standard implementations that avoid this lock-in. For example, the ISO 32000-2 standard ensures PDFs properly transfer between different PDF applications.

Seeking PDF software built on open standards reduces the risk of getting stuck paying Adobe‘s subscriptions indefinitely due to proprietary lock-in.

Top Alternatives to Evaluate

If you‘re ready to move beyond Adobe Acrobat, plenty of capable alternatives now exist. Here is a quick overview of some of the top options to consider:

Product Price Key Features
Nitro Pro $159 one-time Editing, annotation, e-signature, forms
PDFelement $99 one-time Annotation, cloud storage integration, template creation
Foxit Reader Free Editing, form-filling, annotation
PDF24 Creator Free PDF merging, splitting, conversion

Nitro Pro

Nitro Pro is a full-powered Acrobat alternative focused on streamlining PDF productivity. It can handle everything from editing text and images to adding annotations and digital signatures.

One major perk is that Nitro Pro uses a one-time payment model, not a monthly subscription. So with a single $159 purchase, you can use it forever without ongoing costs.

Its clean, intuitive interface also helps you stay focused on work rather than getting sidetracked fighting against a complex UI. For unlimited use at a reasonable price, Nitro Pro is hard to beat.


PDFelement strikes an excellent balance between power and simplicity for Windows and Mac users alike. It makes editing, annotating and collaborating on PDFs a breeze.

The UI is organized cleanly around an easy-to-navigate toolbar that puts common tools right at your fingertips. At $99 for a lifetime license, PDFelement provides a cost-effective path off of the Adobe treadmill.

Foxit Reader

Don‘t need advanced editing or collaboration? Then Foxit Reader offers an impressive suite of free capabilities for casual PDF users.

While the free version lacks some advanced features that corporate users may require, it handily covers essentials like annotations, forms, and digital signatures at no cost.

For light-duty PDF work, Foxit Reader poses a compelling free alternative to Acrobat Reader.

PDF24 Creator

For another free option, PDF24 Creator provides many popular PDF tools like combining files, adding watermarks, and converting to PDF from other formats.

As a smaller player, the interface feels a bit more dated than some competitors. But with straight-forward functionality and non-existent price point, PDF24 Creator warrants a look for basic needs.

Making the Switch from Acrobat

Migrating off of entrenched software like Acrobat onto an alternative takes careful planning and user preparation. Here are some tips for making a smooth transition:

  • Audit exactly which Acrobat features your team uses most frequently and rely upon. This ensures switching to an option that supports those must-have capabilities.

  • Try before you buy. Download free trials of new PDF apps to test drive them extensively with real documents and workflows. Get hands-on experience before making long-term decisions.

  • Phase the migration in slowly department by department, or by document type. This gives everyone time to adjust to new processes while minimizing business disruption.

  • Communicate openly and frequently about the transition. Listen to user feedback and concerns. Incorporate insights back into your change management plan.

  • Develop training manuals and hold onboarding sessions. Arm employees with the knowledge to hit the ground running when the new PDF app goes live company-wide.

Final Thoughts

Adobe Acrobat pioneered the PDF landscape, but going subscription-only has left many users feeling trapped. Now viable alternatives exist that avoid recurring fees and vendor lock-in.

So don‘t hesitate to look beyond the Acrobat name. Evaluating options like Nitro Pro, PDFelement, or Foxit could reveal a better PDF solution for your needs and budget. A little research goes a long way.

I hope this has helped explain some key factors to consider around alternatives to Adobe Acrobat. Let me know if you have any other questions!