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What is PDFElement?
Wondershare PDFElement is a fairly lightweight PDF software that does more than allowing you to just view PDF documents. PDFElement is able to view, edit, secure and convert even the largest and most sophisticated PDF files that you throw at it and is available for both the Windows and the Mac operating systems.
The software looks to challenge other long-standing PDF applications like Adobe Acrobat and Foxit by providing its users with a more modern and streamlined experience, without compromising on any user favorite or in-demand functionalities. And all of that at a fraction of the price of the existing bigwigs.
Supported Languages: English, Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish, German, Italian, French, Bulgarian, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Croatian, Catalan, Greek, Czech, Korean, Polish, Romany, Russian, Slovak, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Dutch.
Overview of Features
- Create, Edit, and Customize PDF documents.
- Convert PDFs to and from any popular office file format.
- Batch processing of conversions.
- Merge, split, compress and crop PDF files with ease.
- Protects your PDF documents with watermarking, Bates numbering, adding passwords to pages, and eSigning.
Wondershare’s first and foremost objective is to innovate and redefine the digital experiences that many new-gen workspaces are heading towards. They seek to be the driving force behind the new compelling chapters that can be potentially created by their clients. Powerful technology and the convenience of software are what they strive for.
Home Page: https://www.wondershare.com
Address: Lhasa (HQ), Liuwu Subdistrict, Doilungdêqên District, China
PDFElement Review and Comparison
Our Verdict After Testing
Even though PDFElement is a newcomer to an established block of heavyweights like Adobe, Foxit, and Nitro, the application butt heads against them surprisingly well. From our rating breakdown, you can clearly see that the application scores averagely across the board. And that is by no means a bad thing.
PDFElement is a gatekeeper for PDF document software in every sense of the word. Its overall design and layout keep up with the modern norms of User Experience conventions. It gives off a lightweight feel and the base processes are pretty snappy. But not all the time.
Eastern companies tend to strive for more variety in a smaller package but that in turn compromises performance. PDFElement is no exception.
The application boasts all of the important day-to-day functions that any workplace needs on top of being moderate in both size and price. Be it editing new and old PDF documents, having a plethora of customizability options, or having document security on par with some of the best, PDFElement has it all.
That said, some of the niche functions, like customizability options for file conversions or de-skewing of scanned documents, are noticeably missing for the application. Not to mention the occasional lag that the application experiences when performing heavier tasks, like OCR scans and document conversions.
+ Easy to use interface.
+ Has most features that you’d need in a professional workspace.
+ High customizability of documents.
+ Allows extraction of text and images on the go.
+ Decent OCR.
– Lack of depth in functionality.
– Not many customizable options for file conversions.
– Somewhat slow on certain process startups
– Cannot de-skew already scanned documents.
Comparison to Similar Products
Disappointment is not a word that we’d use to describe our experience with PDFElement. That means something when we are comparing the application after reviewing some of the heavyweights in our list.
The application itself looks lightweight. Not much going on in the button and color department. Just the way we like it or some of us do at least.
On the surface, navigation seems intuitive, with major function buttons presented to you right on the landing page. Even opening a document, or multiple, gives off a vibe like that of Adobe Acrobat Reader.
However, our concern is surrounding speed. While the outlook of the application screams snappy and fast, some processes beg to differ.
We have noticed a drop in speed or frame lag when opening new documents, large or small. The same when starting some functions, like file conversion or adding security. But this seems to only occur the first time around. Consecutive opening or starting of similar processes run quite smoothly.
This brings us to the weightiest task a PDF application must perform: OCR. It will not be an exaggeration to say that we were shocked to see how long it took to OCR a two-page scanned document to make it text editable. If we had to base our score for that moment only, PDFElement might have been at the bottom of our list. However, similar to other processes, this lag in speed only occurs the first time around.
The performance of the OCR itself is fairly lackluster, as you can see from the following before and after images:
While editable, the text format is completely transformed and the images, namely the signature, have been completely morphed by the application trying to make sense of it. Again, if not for the other qualities of the application (see later sections) carrying its weight, PDFElement could have scored lower.
PDFElement as a full-fledged document application works fairly well, it just needs a few optimization tweaks of which we hope to get on future updates.
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A simple layout coupled with contrasting, but solid, colors make PDFElement a pleasing interface to work with. The UI clearly takes a lot of inspiration from many modern and some existing PDF document applications. This makes it sit quite comfortably in the middle of our rankings.
Let’s get the simpler features out of the way first, namely color. PDFElement doesn’t try anything bold with their color combo of shades of blue with a plain white background. Even the top toolbar panel doesn’t do much to stand out, like some of our other tested applications.
The landing page offers the usual suspects of day-to-day functions and recently opened files. However, one option that may be misleading is the Create PDF button. Initially, we thought that it will create a blank PDF document for us to work with. As it turns out, this function converts files of different formats into PDF documents. This was confusing initially as the is literally a Convert PDF button right next to it. We see what they were going for, but it would have been better to dedicate a single button for conversion to and from the PDF format.
Opening a document presents us with a familiar layout, which is somewhat similar to that of Adobe Acrobat Reader. With page tabs on the left, we can right-click on certain pages to open some hidden options that would be otherwise difficult to navigate from the top toolbar.
This is another way that PDFElement goes about lightening its application without compromising functionality.
Among the lightweight PDF applications in our list, we see some visible improvements with PDFElement. And is some cases, we can see it go head-to-head with some of the top ones on our list.
Let’s first get the one nagging negative that we’ve found that you might remember from our previous section, creating a new PDF document. The option is conveniently, or otherwise, hidden under the File Tab > Create > Blank PDF (as seen in the image below), which cannot be directly accessed on startup or the home page.
But the story is completely different when we do have our desired document open. PDFElement offers everything that our top three do in terms of document customizability.
Editing and customizing text and images, fine-tuning them to a millimeter, resizing and compressing document pages, and inserting any type of field, PDFElement is more than capable.
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What is a PDF document application if it can’t secure documents, right? PDFElement is quite competent in this regard. While it cannot top the top 3 in our list in terms of performance, it more than makes up with the number of security functionalities that are available which seems to be the ongoing trend of PDFElement.
You can find the general security tools of the application under the Protect tab after you have opened up a document.
As you can see, only some, but important, security tools can be found here: Set Password, Redaction (Mark and Search), and Signatures. Signatures can be inserted manually from the computer or an electronic signature can be requested over the Wondershare Document Cloud (more on that in the next section).
Other security tools can be found on other tabs. Like the Watermark and the Bates Numbering options can be found under both the Tools and the Edit tabs.
PDFElement gets a pass (from some of us) for putting certain options in different tabs when there is clearly enough space for the functions to be present under the Protect tab.
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Like most modern software, Wondershare does invest a bit in their PDF application’s online presence, looking to support users on the go. Be it for storage and collaboration with their Wondershare Document Cloud, or through their very well-designed online help page.
The Wondershare Document Cloud is more than just a storage platform, it especially comes in handy when collaborating with others.
We initially weren’t aware of its presence when we started testing but eventually were presented to it when we were tryout the application’s security. To our pleasant surprise, we were taken to the document cloud when we pressed the Electronic Signature button located in the Protect tab.
But if you are a registered user and want to directly access the cloud you can simply follow this URL.
The cloud storage itself offers a base of 1 GB of storage, which is more than enough to get you through a year or more worth of PDF documents. If you need more space (up to 100GB) or limitations on features, you can opt to buy a subscription for the cloud itself for $29.99/year. Simply follow this link.
To finish off, let’s bring your attention to the Wondershare PDFElement’s online support page.
As we have mentioned before, it is quite well-designed, complete with both visual and written help guides on virtually all topics. We did utilize this page a few times as certain functions of the application felt a bit all over the place, or when we couldn’t find a particular function that we were looking for.
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Feature Showcase: Converting a PDF Document to Excel
Other than PDF documents, one other file format that most organizations work with is an Excel file.
While Microsoft Excel provides a great way to share, edit and save workbooks, there might arise a need to preserve these workbooks as PDF documents and conversely convert certain PDF documents to workbooks.
As such, one of the main tests we perform is to convert a PDF document to an Excel workbook to check the depth and versatility of the PDF application.
There are two methods in which you can go about converting a PDF document to an Excel file in PDFElement: one directly from the landing page and the other from an opened PDF document. The following steps will show you how you can convert a PDF document to an Excel file in PDFElement.
Method 1: Convert PDF to Excel from the Landing Page in PDFElement
Step 1: Click on the Convert PDF button right on the landing page.
PDFElement conveniently provides us with a button to get the conversion process started immediately.
Clicking on the Convert PDF button will open a prompt window for you to select your desired PDF document.
Step 2: Select your PDF document for conversion.
Navigate through the files to select your desired PDF for conversion and click Open.
Step 3: Save your converted file in the desired format.
A new prompt window will open after you click Open in the last step. Here you get to choose your required file format in which your selected PDF will be saved.
And we are done!
Method 2: Convert PDF to Excel from an Open Document
Step 1: Utilize the Convert tab in the toolbar.
Once you have a document open in PDFElement, click on the Convert tab located at the top to be presented with all the conversion options.
Step 2: Select save location.
Clicking To Excel in the Convert tab will open a prompt window. Here you will select your desired location where you want to save your converted file. Click Save.
And that’s it!
File Conversion: Points of Interest
- Batch conversion is available.
- For Method 1 you can select multiple files.
- For Method 2, the Batch Process button is available in the Convert tab.
- No conversion customization options. As you may have noticed, the conversion is pretty much press-and-play, no deeper fine-tuning is available. While a Convert Settings button exists, it doesn’t offer much.
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Unlike most of its competitors, Wondershare PDFElement offers both a half-yearly (for individual licenses) or a yearly subscription plan and also a perpetual license for the Pro application. On top of that, they also have customized packages for both individuals and organizations alike. Here is the pricing scheme:
|Half-Yearly Subscription Price||Yearly Subscription Price||Perpetual License Price|
|Wondershare PDFElement Pro (Individual)||$49.99/6 months||$79.99/year||$129.99|
|Wondershare PDFElement Pro (Team)||$1090/year*|
*For 10 users. Can be customized
*For 10 users. Can be customized
PDFElement also offers a limited free trial for you to use if you are unsure whether you want to invest in this application. However, from our perspective, the free trial of PDFElement is one of the worst we have experienced from our list.
On top of having limited feature depth, any PDF document you edit, convert or customize, the application will leave a proprietary watermark on them. It also has a limitation of a maximum of 5 pages of conversion, and always from the first page.
But we still always recommend testing any software before purchase, no matter how limited they are.
To wrap it up, Wondershare PDFElement Pro is a fairly unsophisticated PDF document application. It has all the functions that you would want from a PDF application, albeit being on a basic level of functionality.
Our experience was mostly positive, but nothing mind-blowing. Some standout features would be the access and the ease of use of the Wondershare Document Cloud and the PDF Edit (customization) options. However, the places where we do want to see further improvements are the depth of customization choices of file conversions and the optimization of the application itself. Fingers crossed for that in future updates.