Software Review: PDFpenPro
Do you deal with PDF files frequently? Don’t want to deal with Adobe products (Adobe Reader), but need more power than Apple’s built-in Preview? Smile Software’s (formerly Smile on My Mac) PDFpen ($59.95) and PDFpenPro ($99.95) may be the perfect application for you.
I’ve been using their TextExpander software for a few years now and was excited to try another one of their signature programs.
I’ve been happily and successfully using Apple’s Preview for almost all of my PDF needs for many years now. I’ve always been able to open, view, combine and rearrange multiple PDFs with ease. However, there are a few features that I have never been able accomplish with Preview.
As an educator, I often deal with many PDF files that are related to a specific unit or topic. I can easily combine multiple PDF’s into one document, but once the number of pages becomes unwieldy it’s difficult to organize the document and maneuver through it. PDFpenPro solves this problem by allowing me to create a table of contents. Adding items to the table of contents is as easy as highlighting the text that I want to use as the table of contents entry and then hitting a keyboard shortcut to add the entry. PDFpenPro also gives me the option to make the entry a “child” (sub-entry) or an “aunt” (promoting the entry to a higher level). The table of contents then holds these entries as clickable items to move directly to that section of the document. When I’ve combined a large number of PDF files, I can also use PDFpenPro’s page numbering feature to either add regular page numbering or Bates numbering (often used in legal documents) to all pages within the newly combined document.
If a PDF has a text layer, then PDFpenPro allows a number of changes to be made to the document. You can select text and have it changed to editable text so that you can change the text to whatever you’d like. You can highlight and redact text as well. Redacting text means to obscure part of the text by either erasing it completely or blocking it from view. This particular function is probably not one that I need in my line of work, but others may find it useful when blocking names or other identifying information for privacy reasons.
PDFpenPro also enhances on Preview’s ability to annotate PDFs. You can add comments, URL links, text boxes, lines, arrows, and other drawing features right on top of the original PDF. It is my understanding that this annotated PDF is then readable by others even if they do not own a PDFpen product. All the recipient needs to do is open the file in Adobe Reader and all annotations are viewable.
One of the most frequently advertised features of PDFpen and PDFpenPro is the built-in OCR (Optical Character Recognition) engine. You can set up the program to ask to OCR when you open a scanned document or you can import a document directly from your scanner into the application.
For those who are often required to fill-in PDF forms, PDFpenPro allows you to fill in, save, and even overlay your signature. Doing this is as easy as having a JPG or a PNG of your signature and then dragging it into the file. This can then be changed to a transparent image so that you can place it anywhere in your document. Your signature can then be placed in the PDFpen Library so that you can have fast and easy access to it. Place other frequently used items in this Library as well.
PDFpen and PDFpenPro have too many features to completely cover in this review. My bullet-list of other favorite features are as follows:
Save to Evernote
Save webpages as multipage PDF’s (Pro only)
Cropping, repositioning, and editing images
Create interactive, cross-platform PDF’s (Pro only)
To see a full list of features and compare it to other PDF manipulation software, please see the following links.
PDFpenPro features: http://www.smilesoftware.com/PDFpenPro/features.html
Feature Comparisons with other software: http://www.smilesoftware.com/PDFpen/compare.html
PDFpenPro is just what I need to take my PDFs to the next level. If it sounds like something you’d like to try, you can download a free trial of either program from their website at http://smilesoftware.com/. If you feel overwhelmed and feel the need for a tutorial, Don McAllister from ScreenCastsOnline has recorded several short screencasts covering different aspects of the programs. You can view those at http://smilesoftware.com/PDFpen/screencast/