PDFTools: splits, joins, extracts PDF pages and provides a myriad of other functions

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PDFTools is a free tool that can perform a wide range of PDF editing functions including ones that you would expect such merging, splitting and extracting of PDF pages, as well as many other less common functions such as stamping PDFs with a text message or image, rearranging PDF pages in a document, as well as decrypting a PDF document or encrypting/editing the document’s user permissions.

If you are in need of a simple yet powerful tool that can split, join, or extract PDF pages and/or provide a number of other editing options then look no more: PDFTools will likely be exactly what you are looking for. PDFTools offers an excellent range of PDF related editing functions, all but two of which worked beautifully in my testing of this program.

I will present quick review of the various functions below, but really all you need to do to grasp what this software can do is glance at the screenshot above. The only function that is somehow missing (and which to me would have been obvious) is the option to add page numbering to a PDF document; and considering this tool already allows you to stamp a message or image anywhere you like on your document I am guessing that they simply did not think of it.

Here are more notes on the various functions:

  • Performance: I mention this first because it is very notably fast. I tested all the functions using a 250-page text and image intensive PDF ebook and the tool zipped through all the functions.
  • PDFTools SplitSplitting and extracting PDF’s: can save each and every page to its own file, split even or odd pages only, split after a certain page (or after each user defined number of pages), or simply extract a user-defined section/range of pages as its own PDF.
  • Join multiple PDF’s: choose your files, re-arrange them if needed, and join. Can merge PDF documents that are portrait and landscape formatted together into a single document without hitch.
  • PDFTools Stamp PDFStamp a PDF: you can insert text or an image anywhere in the document in the background on every page. PDFTools offers placement presets, such as top-right or middle-center, or will allow you to specify x and y coordinates for the exact location you want your stamp to be. Works very well.
  • Re-arrange a PDF: *didn’t work for me*. Or I should say that while reversing the order of the pages worked just fine, re-arranging multiple pages on a single page resulted in the top 15% of each page being inexplicably shaved off. If it had worked it would allowed the re-arranging of 2, 3, or 4 pages to fit on a single page (for example for printing purposes to save paper). A handout option whereby the program adds a column on the right for not taking purposes worked very well though.
  • PDFTools EncryptEncrypt a PDF: allows you to define user privileges, such as printing, degraded printing, the ability to copy, change content or annotation, and others (see screenshot to the right). Note that you do not have to password protect your file even as you change user privileges.
  • Decrypt a PDF: i.e. decrypt it by providing the password, not by cracking it. This developer’s website reports that this feature is broken in v1.3 and that it will be fixed. Mind you it has been a few years since this version was released in 2006.
  • PDF Creator: creates PDFs from XML files; to quote the website, it “allows you to create a PDF document by specifying structure in a XML document”. More information on this here. For myself I didn’t delve much into this feature.

Wish list:

  • Auto numbering: that empty space on the main interface is just begging for “automatic numbering” to be added there.
  • An update with some of the aforementioned issues fixed. The program has not been updated since 2007.

The verdict: the closest thing I have to a criticism is that in order to use PDFTools you need to know ahead of time exactly the pages or page ranges you want to edit (i.e you will need to inspect your PDF’s using a PDF reader first). This is undoubtedly not a big issue given that PDFTools does not purport to be a reader (and offers so much powerful functionality for free), but I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will see a free visually-based PDF editing swiss-army knife style tool at some point (in the style of PDF Split and Merge).

But wishful thinking notwithstanding, I would say that all in all this is a very nice tool for PDF editing with an excellent range of functions. It is very similar to previously mentioned PDFTK Builder although I slightly prefer the user experience that PDFTools provides.

[Thanks to reader Anand for suggesting this review].

Version Tested: 1.3

Compatibility: WinAll.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 2.76 megs).