SmallPDF is a complete online PDF package and a direct competitor to big-name PDF software like Adobe Acrobat, Nitro and Soda PDF. Even though the platform is cloud-based, it can create, edit, convert and secure PDF documents. This SmallPDF review will be looking at how this online PDF management application stands up to the other big names on our list.
What is SmallPDF?
SmallPDF is a cloud-based PDF editor and document management tool. It has on offer most of the tools that a complete PDF software like Foxit, Nitro, or Adobe would have. But it is much more lightweight than them considering everything is done online and in a browser.
SmallPDF offers a plethora of features from creating new PDF documents, editing and customizing them, converting them to and from any popular file format, and even offering some security features like eSigning and password security.
SmallPDF innovates on traditional office document management to match the on-the-go mentality of a modern working person. All of these features can be freely accessed by anyone, but by opting for a (very worthwhile) subscription you will be free of the daily restrictions and even be able to customize the package for yourself and your business.
Supported Languages: Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese.
Overview of Features
- Create, edit and customize PDFs.
- A completely online PDF editor and converter.
- Converts PDF documents to and from all popular file formats.
- Has a desktop app with base features.
- Third-party integrations with popular apps (Google Drive and Dropbox)
- Secure and unlock PDFs online.
Smallpdf is a software company based in Switzerland. It is made up of a small team of ambitious developers that have successfully created one of the top 500 most visited websites on the internet. They look to innovate document management software into something that serves the modern man more efficiently.
Home Page: https://smallpdf.com/
Address: Zürich, Switzerland
SmallPDF Review & Comparison
Our Verdict After Testing
We had kept an open mind when diving in to test SmallPDF. Being completely an online PDF editor our expectations were kept in check. But we are glad to report that our expectations were exceeded, in certain cases at least.
At first glance, SmallPDF is a brilliant approach to managing PDF documents in this day and age where all homes and workplaces are connected to the internet. It provides us with direct access to all the most common tools that one might need to professionally work with PDF documents.
SmallPDF’s modern look and the bright and colorful approach to the tools are very welcoming. They are simple to use and very snappy. You would wonder whether you were working offline thanks to its seamless performance.
While we do get a broad range of functions it is definitely not of the greatest depth. The functions themselves are pretty bare-bones allowing only two to three extra customization under each feature.
In a way, this is to be expected. Since SmallPDF is an online platform, it does not take from the computer’s memory or processing power to perform deeper levels of functions and customizations.
But whatever it does provide, and weighing them against the subscription plans, we found it to be more than worthwhile.
+ Cloud-based platform: Works on your browser, so it does not require extra memory or processing power to operate.
+ Very Fast: Thanks to being cloud-based and having its powerful processing engine elsewhere.
+ Lots of features: Has a broad variety of features that covers most of an organization’s needs.
+ Free to use: Most basic features can be accessed on the go.
– Shallow Customization: You cannot edit existing objects (text and images) in your PDF document.
– Pay-walled: Free usage of the platform has a lot of restrictions. Like limited pages to convert, no batch processing and no access to OCR, among others.
Comparison to Similar Products
Experiencing SmallPDF over the week has been an on-and-off affair. Moving through the many tools it has on offer has been pretty easy and snappy, but the platform sacrifices a lot of functionality for being completely cloud-based.
First of all, SmallPDF’s services are free to use, but with heavy restrictions. The free version clearly is catered for personal use only. Uncomplicated documents of smaller sizes are all it can handle.
For somewhat professional processes, you will need to invest a bit. While it is well worth it, SmallPDF still struggles to handle heavy PDF documents that are common to see in modern workspaces. We’d like to point out that it really isn’t SmallPDF’s fault. The platform being cloud-based, its functionality is only restricted by the capabilities of the internet.
If we had to make a comparison, it is much like Soda PDF’s online editor with a few more functions and a whole lot cheaper.
It also helps that SmallPDF offers the same tools and functionality for their mobile application for both Android and iOS users.
It is browser-based, so you can expect it to have the same pros and cons as a modern web page interface. While moving through the tools is pretty intuitive, it just doesn’t have the flair of using solid software, especially at work.
SmallPDF follows a very minimalistic yet vibrant scheme for its pages. Every option in a particular activity group is color-coded. Initially, or as a new user, it may not mean much but over time this pattern will be ingrained into your minds that can help navigation and working using SmallPDF noticeably smoother. It did for some of us at least.
SmallPDF offers woefully low document customization options, especially compared to its top, full-sized competitors. This makes SmallPDF achieve a sub-average score in our books, even though the limitations stem from it being cloud-based.
However, SmallPDF does offer a solid workaround to this issue.
While SmallPDF has a lot of solid tools in its arsenal, it does not offer a lot in terms of customizability. It does however present us with a decent document converter.
If you have a PDF document to edit, SmallPDF suggests that we utilize the converter to convert a PDF to an editable format, like a Word document, then convert it back to a PDF again.
It has proven to be a sound solution, albeit a very generic one. While it can work well for an individual, it won’t fly for a mid to large organization. These few extra steps will add up to a lot of time wasted.
Explore More: Soda PDF Review (We Compared It with 9 Converters)!
We are just happy that a cloud-based platform like SmallPDF is offering any tools for security at all. The same can’t be said for most online PDF editors, or some offline ones as well.
The tools themselves are pretty basic, but works well enough:
- Protect PDF: Add a password to your PDF document. Whatever password you enter, SmallPDF will go the extra mile to further encrypt it so that it can’t be compromised online.
- Unlock PDF: This allows you to remove any passwords, encryptions and certifications that the PDF document might have, as long as you have sufficient information of course.
- eSign PDF: A new addition to SmalPDF’s list of tools. Works the same way as other offline eSign tools, only online. SmallPDF allows you to create your own eSign right there on the browser, add eSign to PDFs, or request eSigns on your behalf.
Explore More: Adobe Acrobat DC Review (Compare before Buy)!
SmallPDF has been one of the friendliest online PDF editing platforms we have worked with. Understanding and working with it hasn’t been an issue, but if it were, SmallPDF has a lot of ways to help us out.
The SmallPDF Blog offers not only tutorials (text and video) but also very easy-to-understand How To guides and Tips for you and your business.
For troubleshooting and FAQs, they have a dedicated and simple Support page that covers most of what you’d need.
They also have a dedicated YouTube page that contains a lot of helpful short videos which can originally be found on the blog we just mentioned.
Feature Showcase: Converting a PDF Document to Excel
One of the major boasting points of SmallPDF is its file conversion capability. It follows a simple “plug-and-play” process of conversion. But due to that, the customization of the process is very limited, if not nonexistent.
Let’s see how it’s done:
Step 1: Choosing your desired document
You can go about this in two ways:
1) Open your file in SmallPDF’s PDF Reader.
2) Directly select the document from SmallPDF’s PDF to Excel option.
Step 2: Convert your document
If you went for the first way, simply click on the Tools option on the top of the page and select PDF to Excel.
Choosing the second option in Step 1 will directly convert your file and be presented to you for download.
And that’s that!
As we can see, the conversion is very clean. SmallPDF was able to keep the rows and columns of the table intact. But that is really the extent of the converter.
Explore Related Software Review: Cogniview PDF2XL Review (Compare Before Buy)!
Things to Keep in Mind
- There are no customization options for the conversion process. You cannot select the range of pages to convert, you cannot specifically choose tables to convert and you cannot choose how the resultant worksheet will be like (each page to a separate sheet or each table to a separate sheet).
- Cannot handle large or complicated documents. Unless the document is edited precisely, SmallPDF will have a hard time recognizing and converting your document in the right way, especially for excel conversions.
- OCR is only available with a subscription.
|SmallPDF Pro||$12 per month||$108 per year*|
|SmallPDF Team||$10 per month per user||$84 per year* per user|
* Billed annually
[Package Comparison Link]
SmallPDF is, by default, free to use. All of its tools are available online for use. You can however opt for a 14-Day Free Trial of the Pro version of SmallPDF.
The Pro version removes all of the restrictions of the free online version on top of allowing you to use their desktop application. This application can be used offline and has a few basic features.
SmallPDF also offers a customizable package for larger businesses called SmallPDF Business. You will be billed according to the features your organization opts for.
SmallPDF has a lot to offer, especially for taking virtually nothing from its user. It allows you to create, customize, convert and secure your PDF documents to be office-ready at a moment’s notice. All that without having to download anything, or at any cost for that matter.
While it may not have a professional feel to it or provide some of the functions that one might need in a corporate environment. For the price tag that it does have and the customizability of the said price tag, SmallPDF is definitely worth it, especially for individuals and small businesses.
Another fun thing about SmallPDF is that it has the potential to grow along with its platform, which is cloud-based technology. It already offers a Chrome extension that makes accessing it so much easier.
As time goes on, we might even see it compete with the big names on our list. Who knows?