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Best PDF Apps for Students to Read, Edit and Annotate

We all know how important PDFs are for students. Ebooks, handouts, study notes, research papers, assignments and whatnot.

PDFs are a must in the classroom. They are the most common file type used in schools, colleges, universities and research.

Around one third of students in the world now rely on PDFs to work on their studies. This number may not mean much, but as a student, you must know that using PDFs effectively can help you study faster and better.

There are so many PDF apps that can read, annotate and edit PDF files. But for a student, an app must always be fast, user-friendly, classroom-oriented and above all economical – even if the student needs to buy one to unlock advanced features.

I have compiled a list of the best PDF apps for students and I am super excited to share the list with you.

So without further ado, let’s have a look at the best pdf apps for students.

Best PDF Apps for Students

PDF Expert

Pdf expert block01 alldevices
Credit: PDF Expert Website

I am a fan and a long-time user of PDF Expert. This all-in-one PDF solution is a must-have for serious students, teachers and scholars. With it, you can read, annotate and edit your PDF files very easily. You can also arrange, rotate, delete and add pages to a PDF document; or you can create a whole new PDF document from scratch.

The only downside of this app is that it is not available for Android and Windows operating systems. You can however take advantage of its incredible features on iPhones, iPads and Macbooks.

PDF Viewer

Pdf viewer

Don’t get fooled by the name. PDF Viewer is more than just a document reader. With it, you can do the same things as you could with the PDF Expert app.

One advantage that PDF viewer has over PDF Expert is that it is available as an Android app, in addition to Mac, iPhone and iPads.

Wondershare PDFelement

Mac pdf
Source: Wondershare PDFelement

Both #1 and #2 in the list are the apps that are not available for Windows computers. But Wondershare’s PDFelement is truly cross-platform. Powered with an intuitive design, PDFelement runs with PDF Viewer’s technology at the core and PDF Expert’s design on the front. So you get the best of both worlds.

While the free version is more than sufficient for students, be sure to try the premium version which offers loads of PDF editing features.

Note that there is also a Wondershare PDF Reader. This app focuses on reading features only. You can try this if you just need a PDF reading app.

Sumatra PDF

Sumatra PDF is a free & lightweight PDF and comic book reader which is available exclusively for Windows laptops.

Adobe Acrobat DC

Adobe reader pdf apps for students

Adobe is the inventor of PDF format and Acrobat is the stock PDF app that the world first used. It now comes in two versions:

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (or Adobe Reader, in short) is a free PDF reading app that is sufficient enough for more needs.
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is a PDF editing suite that can be bought under the Adobe Document Cloud subscription.

Acrobat DC is available for all mobile, tablet and desktop operating systems. The only problem with this app is its speed. It takes too many resources and often lags on low-end computers.

Xodo PDF

Xodo PDF is a cross-platform offline and online PDF reader and editor focused on usability and performance. This is an all-in-one PDF reading, annotation and editing app.

As I said, Xodo is available across platforms. Be sure to check if it is available for your device. It’s mostly free and even if there is a paid upgrade – that is very cheap.

PDFSam Basic

Pdfsam basic

When you are working with scanned paper documents, your requirements tend to be rather limited. For example, you might just need to separate the pages of a PDF document into multiple documents, or vice versa. At other times, you have to alter the orientation of a document’s pages. In this case, PDFSam Basic is an excellent lightweight desktop app that will serve you very well.

Although you cannot change the actual contents of the document with its help, it can combine and divide them efficiently. It has no intrusive watermarks and does not get/give any third party access to your documents either.

Features

  • Open Source and free online & offline PDF editor
  • Split, merge, rotate, mix and extract pages from PDF files
  • Private and safe

Other apps

In addition to these seven PDF apps, there are five more apps that I can wholeheartedly recommend to students.

  1. Flexcil (iPad, Android and iPhone)
  2. Notability (iPad, Mac and iPhone)
  3. GoodNotes (iPad, Mac and iPhone)
  4. Nebo (iPad, Mac, Windows, Android, iPhone)
  5. Skim (Mac only)

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