A recent inquiry from a MakeUseOf reader asking for suggestions on an inexpensive PDF tool that allowed resizing and optimizing PDF files, prompted me to search for suitable PDF editors. While there are many PDF reading applications that are handy alternatives to Adobe Reader, applications that allow you to make simple edits to PDF files aren’t so common. A lot of the programs I found that came close to having the features I was looking for, weren’t in development anymore or had not been updated in years (abandonware). Other open-source PDF editors seemed to not work in Windows 7 or were exclusive to Linux.
Among the many applications with a hint of usability, PDF ReDirect was particularly enticing because of the sheer number of favorable reviews. PDF ReDirect is a simple virtual printer that creates PDF files from document files but also bundles some PDF editing features, such as PDF file merging, page rotating, and PDF optimizing. Being currently the fourth most popular application on CNET’s Document Management Software category, behind Foxit and Adobe Reader, the application promises no advertisements or restrictions of any kind (though there’s a tab on the program featuring the Pro version that thankfully, isn’t obtrusive at all), so I thought I’d give it a try.
The installation file is about 7MB while the application will occupy 12.9MB once installed. Like most other PDF ‘converters’, it installs as a virtual printer for you to effortlessly create a PDF file out of any printable file. Unlike most virtual printers, it comes with a few options to modify your freshly dished PDF.
You can join your new PDF file with other PDF’s by adding documents into the Merge List.
Using the arrow buttons gives you the ability to reorder the pages, which you can preview to the right. You can also preview any PDF documents elsewhere in your hard drive, which you can navigate in the built-in file explorer to the left.
Before you save your new (merged or not) PDF file, you can adjust the picture quality, which means that you can adjust how big your ending PDF file will be. There are 4 levels of optimization. The default is Good, which is a step above Low (quality), which is recommended if you’re looking to optimize your file to get a small file size.
You can also choose to rotate the pages in your PDF file.
If you want additional security measures, PDF ReDirect offers the option to encrypt (set a password) your PDF file.
Although it packs some PDF-editing goodies, PDF ReDirect doesn’t offer PDF bursting, a term that refers to creating separate PDF files from each page in a PDF file, essentially splitting a PDF file. And although there aren’t direct ways or buttons to, say, extract pages from a PDF file, you could manually select to print those specific pages you want to extract. Same concept applies if you want to delete a few pages from a PDF file: You would need to manually select to print the pages before the ones you want out, which will pop up in PDF ReDirect, then selecting the pages after the ones to delete, which will also appear in PDF ReDirect’s Merge List.
If you need additional features, you’ll most likely have to use something else, which isn’t too bad considering there are some genuinely good tools available for free. For a watermarking feature, for example, the excellent PDF-XChange Viewer offers that and even more document markup options, such as commenting. There is also PDFEscape, a web-based tool for merging, splitting and rotating PDF files. The open-source Inkscape also lets you move the objects in the actual PDF’s, although you can only import 1 PDF page at a time.
It’d be great if all of these features were available on a single (free) application, but these separate programs are definitely not bad for what they offer. What do you use to mark up or edit your PDF files?