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The focus of this category is on the software used to manage Portable Document Format (PDF) documents.

The PDF format is one developed by Adobe in the 1990s as a means of presenting documents in a way that would be independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems. It is a file format that provides an electronic image of text, or of text and graphics, that looks like a printed document, and can be viewed, printed, and electronically transmitted.

The PDF format was part of the paperless office idea, like Adobe products allowed for the creation of documents that were identical to paper documents.

One problem was that, without the appropriate Adobe product, PDF documents couldn't be edited, added to, or signed, and Adobe asked a steep price for its software tools, which begun at prices that approached a thousand dollars, and went up as high as four thousand dollars. Acrobat Reader cost fifty dollars.

Eventually, Adobe lowered the prices for its products and offered a free reader, but PDF was not an instant success, and cost had much to do with that.

It should be no surprise that Adobe products remain the best choice for created and editing PDF documents, but there are some less expensive alternatives today, and have listed some of them below.

The distinction between the features offered by the various PDF converters is loose, however. Some applications will allow for the addition of annotations, signatures, and notes onto a PDF document, while others allow for redaction, which is the removal of specific content for security purposes. The extraction of embedded text is a feature of some of these programs, while others can be used to perform optical character recognition, which allows the user scan paper documentation and convert them into PDFs and other formats.

The primary goal of some of these applications is to convert documents from a PDF format into editable text, such as Word documents.

Software programs that are designed primarily for another purpose, such as graphics creation and editing, or word processing, may also offer the ability to convert images to or from a PDF format, but these programs will be listed in the appropriate Graphics or Word Processing category.



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