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PDFpen 6 for Mac Review

Smile Software (opens in new tab) has released a new version of PDFpen, a full-featured PDF editor. PDFpen 6 includes the ability to export in MS Word format, a new editing bar, and more.

The editing bar in PDFpen includes the ability to add text, notes, links, shapes, highlights, and photos. You can also chose to edit any text even though the file you're working with is technically a flattened PDF. You do this with the "Correct Text" tool and simply highlight the block of text you wish to change.

Another great feature of PDFpen is the ability to add commonly used imprints and characters used by teachers and editors when adding notes to a paper. These look like they are handwritten and you can upload your own as well.

PDFpen also does Optical Character Recognition (OCR) so that you can edit scanned documents. Scanned documents with text are technically just an image of text, but with OCR, PDFpen is able to convert that image into usable text with the help of the OmniPage OCR engine.

Some other features of PDFpen include the ability to add and edit images, combine PDFs, re-order pages, fill out interactive PDF forms, password protect your document, and more. PDFpen also support Dropbox and iCloud sync as well as the ability to save your document as a MS Word file (.doc or .docx).

The good

  • Add text, images and signatures to PDF
  • Correct text in original PDF with editable text blocks
  • Move, resize, copy and delete images in original PDF
  • Redact or erase text, including OCR text; use search-and-redact or search-and-replace
  • Adjust resolution, color depth and contrast in an image or scanned document
  • Scan directly from Image Capture or TWAIN scanners
  • Perform OCR (Optical Character Recognition) on scanned documents
  • Insert and remove pages; re-order pages in a PDF by drag & drop
  • Combine PDFs
  • Insert page numbers and specify positioning and format, including Roman numerals and Bates Numbering
  • Fill out interactive PDF forms
  • Add (and print) notes and comments
  • Mark up documents with highlighting, underscoring and strikethrough
  • Save frequently-used images, signatures, objects and text in the Library and sync that Library via iCloud
  • Save PDFs directly to Evernote
  • Password protect a document
  • Export to Microsoft® Word (.doc, .docx) format
  • Use iCloud or Dropbox for seamless editing with PDFpen for iPad and PDFpen for iPhone

The bad

  • When cropping a photo, you can't lock the aspect ratio
  • When editing a photo, the effect tab has a bug. The first time you visit it, the previews display fine, but if you go to another tab and come back, the previews do not show.
  • Highlighter tool is a bit buggy

The bottom line

PDFpen is a great PDF editor for the Mac that is full-featured and easy to use. Personally, I prefer to do most of my annotating with an iPad (and there's a version of PDFpen for iPad (opens in new tab), but I will definitely be turning to PDFpen for Mac for my other PDF editing needs like filling out forms and editing documents.

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

  • Loved PDFpen 5, upgraded immediately to PDFpen 6. (Sale only lasts until tomorrow, so if you're tempted, save some cash and buy asap.)
  • I'm assuming Acrobat Pro outperforms this--true?
  • I wanted PDFPen to be my new solution so I didn't have to rely on Acrobat. There are 2 things that kept me from booting Acrobat that I do not believe (I could be mistaken) were fixed in the latest version of PDF Pen Pro - secure signatures and combining pdfs from different sources/websites. I contacted Smile support about the latter and they told me that I should construct pdfs in Preview. Granted, they were really nice and even reconstructed the form for me but REALLY? I bought PDF Pen Pro so I could have one solution. As for secure signatures, I don't believe there is support. Sure, you can drop your signature down as a stamp but not the secure solution I was looking for.
  • It's things like this that make me want to buy an Mac the next time I get a computer. Getting really sick of Windows and the new Windows 8 look is dumb.