Adobe Acrobat Pro DC review: Still the standard

It's as feature-packed as ever, with the addition of more affordable subscription pricing.

Adobe created the PDF two decades ago and its PDF editor has remained the kingpin of the category, despite what many users felt was its exorbitant price. But a couple of years back, Acrobat adopted a cloud subscription model that now makes it more affordable for folks without an enterprise budget.

Acrobat Pro DC is composed of three components: Acrobat DC, which allows you to perform a variety of editing functions on your PDFs on desktop and mobile devices; Adobe Document Cloud, which lets you create and export PDF files, as well as store and send files and collect electronic signatures; and Acrobat Reader DC which enables you to read, print, and sign PDFs.

Acrobat Pro DC sports an easily navigable tabbed interface. The Home tab gives you quick access to recent files; PDFs you’ve sent for review; and files stored locally, in Adobe Document Cloud or Adobe Creative Cloud, or in third-party services like Box or Microsoft OneDrive.

This review is part of our best PDF editors of 2017 roundup. Go there to learn about our testing and how all the competitors performed. 

adobe acrobat pro dc Michael Ansaldo/IDG

Acrobat Pro DC’s many features are easy to find on its tool tab.

The Tools tab organizes Acrobat Pro DC’s wealth of tools in single pane, organized by function: “Create & Edit,” “Review & Approve,” “Forms & Signatures,” “Protect & Standardize,” and “Customize.” Any of the individual tools can be added as a shortcut to a right sidebar so you can get to them with a PDF open without having to toggle back here.

Adobe continues to offer everything you need to work with PDFs in a business environment. You can create PDFs from a variety of file types (Microsoft Office files, images, HTML, scanned documents), send them out for comments and electronic signatures, and safeguard sensitive information with encryption, password protection, and text redaction.

An Acrobat Pro DC subscription will also unlock a host of editing features on Adobe’s Acrobat Reader app for iOS and Android. The mobile interface closely mirrors the desktop version, though scaled-down a bit, and makes working with PDFs on the smaller screen surprisingly easy.

acrobat mobile Michael Ansaldo/IDG

An Acrobat Pro DC subscription unlocks advanced features in the Acrobat Reader mobile app.

Really, if there’s anything about Acrobat DC Pro to knock, it’s that the sheer amount of features and how they work together can be dizzying for a first-time user. Fortunately, Adobe offers a fair amount of help through in-app walkthroughs and video tutorials on the Acrobat website.

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is available for Windows and MacOS for $15 a month with an annual commitment of $24 for a month-to-month subscription. The paired-back Adobe Standard DC drops some advanced editing features and is available for $13 per month with an annual commitment or $22 for a month-to-month subscription. Both come with a free seven-day trial.

If you can afford it, you can still purchase a perpetual license for desktop-only versions, too: $449 for Pro and $299 Standard.

Bottom line

Though many of its comprehensive features are available in other less expensive PDF editors, Acrobat remains the industry standard and that alone is reason to consider it. And its subscription-based pricing guarantees you’ll always have the latest version of the software without the hassle of purchasing an entirely new install.

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Michael Ansaldo

PC World (US online)
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