Add, remove text from PDFs with the free and offline PicoPDF tool

Mar 16, 2021
Software, Windows software

Have a PDF that you need to edit? Most PDF readers don't give you the option to modify the contents. And the ones that do, often tend to be online tools or commercial products.

Add, remove text from PDFs with the free and offline PicoPDF tool

PicoPDF is an easy to use, offline PDF editor that lets you edit text and add images to your documents. The program has a ribbon interface, though the Home tab has all the tools you'll need to edit PDFs.

Drag and drop a PDF document onto the GUI, or use the Open button to select one. PicoPDF displays the contents just like a normal reader. Use the mouse wheel to scroll down pages.

Left click on some text in the PDF, and it changes to a text box that you can use it to edit existing content, fix typos, or add something to the document. You can also use the buttons on the toolbar for the same. The program recognizes the text formatting of the document, and preserves it for changes you make, so you don't have to worry about the font style looking awkward. Made an error while editing? You'll be happy to know that PicoPDF supports undo and redo, though there aren't buttons for these. So, you'll have to rely on the keyboard shortcuts, Ctrl + Z and Ctrl + Y.

PicoPDF add text

Want to move something on a page? Click the move button, select the content, and drag it any location you like. You can also use PicoPDF to add images to a PDF document, it supports several image formats including JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, TIF, PSD, to name a few.

Use the save button to preserve the changes you made to the PDF. If you prefer non-destructive editing (keep the original PDF), you may want to use the Save As option, to create a new version of the document. The program will prompt you to save the changes to the PDF, when you exit.

PicoPDF edit text

Note: I noticed that PicoPDF pings a website called, but it belongs to the same developer, NCH Software. Upon further observation, I think it connects to the portal to download the optional programs that you can download from the Suite tab (Wavepad). Speaking of which, none of the programs in that tab are required to use the PDF editor.

PicoPDF is a freeware program. It does not come in a portable version. The application used about 30 - 40 MB of memory while editing text-heavy documents, but it shot upwards of 200MB when I tested it with illustrated eBooks.  I couldn't get the program to work with PDFs that I had created from Microsoft Word (those have some kind of protection), but it worked fine with others. Protected documents, i.e, the ones which ask for a password can't be edited either. Even though it has a zoom slider for adjusting the view, I won't recommend using the program as a PDF reader, as I found it to be slightly slow to render pages than Firefox, SumatraPDF, etc. The application began to chug when I added images to it, which seemed odd, since it was able to handle PDFs with embedded pictures rather well.

PicoPDF isn't going to win any prizes for what it does, but for the price of free, it does a perfectly good job of basic text editing. If you're looking for a tool to add/remove additional elements (boxes, tables, etc), this isn't the program for you.

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  1. ramsam said on March 18, 2021 at 9:52 am

    Very poor editing features.
    Even the pdf file is not read properly

  2. me said on March 18, 2021 at 5:54 am

    What about SoftMaker’s FreePDF?

  3. John G. said on March 17, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    It’s a good software itself, however my father still uses Ableword, that allows to edit and save PDF files with no problem at all. It’s so good than it can modify all kind of content and save it with no fail at all, results are better than other kind of expensive software commonly recommended. Unfortunately it seems to be discontinued long time ago. Furthermore, my father uses Ableword for professional purposes and official documents with no issues since at least the last eight years. :]

    1. Anonymous said on July 19, 2021 at 11:55 am

      Merci… Je suis impressionné par l’efficacité d’un si petit logiciel.

    2. beachbum said on March 18, 2021 at 11:35 pm

      @John G.

      Thank you very much. I tried this and it’s a keeper.

      It works very well for editing pdfs that were created using a word processor.

      The same company has a free OCR tool that will read the text on pdfs created from scans;

      it worked much better for me than the OCR function on Vuescan.

    3. Reggie said on March 18, 2021 at 1:03 am

      Thank you for the tip! I’ll give this a go.

    4. plusminus_ said on March 17, 2021 at 9:28 pm


    5. VioletMoon said on March 17, 2021 at 3:48 pm

      Great find–the home site still offers the download, so . . .

      I’m assuming the installer works fine.

  4. TelV said on March 17, 2021 at 10:28 am

    I use the freebie Foxit Reader which has the ability to add / delete text offline using the Typewriter tool. I’m not sure whether it can add images or not.

  5. hg said on March 17, 2021 at 9:49 am

    Doesn’t seem very good on a brief test.

  6. Morningdove said on March 16, 2021 at 11:00 pm

    The installer, the program itself and it’s uninstaller are determined to foist an unidentified file onto your computer called “freetype.exe”. Since this download is done by directing your computer to a web page and automatically downloading it from there it cannot be stopped by blocking internet access. Fortunately my download manager caught this attempt every time it occurred. I do question why the reviewer didn’t catch this nasty, sneaky trick by NCH Software.

    1. Gerard said on March 17, 2021 at 9:36 am

      Good points, Morningdove. NCH “freeware” is notorious in that respect, and has been so for ages. It would be useful if reviewers would check whether the software under review phones home or has other undesirable internet access.

  7. VioletMoon said on March 16, 2021 at 9:01 pm

    Right, so if Pico is somewhat limited, then it would be nice to mention tools such as Inkscape or LibreOffice Draw:

    The link above is Ashwin’s article modified with a simple web page to .pdf file [Print Friendly] which was then opened and modified using Google Docs although any of the newer Word programs will work.

    NCH–they do have some nice products! WavePad is awesome for me.

    1. John G. said on March 17, 2021 at 12:03 pm

      LibreOffice Draw only allows to save modified PDFs as ODF files, so it is not worth enough. :[

      1. firesoul31 said on March 17, 2021 at 8:35 pm

        I would say then just print to pdf after saving to odf, works easy enough.

      2. Mike Murphy said on March 17, 2021 at 5:09 pm

        In LibreOffice you can export to PDF. It will generate a new file or you can overwrite the old one.

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