Unleashing the Potential of PDFs: A Critical Review of PDF24 Creator’s Capabilities and Clunkiness

PDF24 Creator is a Windows-only PDF editor that’s been in continuous development since 2006. Its offerings are as straightforward as they come. There are no premium packages, business versions, or tiered pricing to sort through, just a single download that’s free for personal and commercial use.

Further reading: See our roundup of the best pdf editors to learn about competing products.

PDF24 Creator design and features

As you might expect with a free editor, the emphasis is on functionality over form. Most PDF editors favor an Office-style ribbon interface, with everything organized in tabbed toolbars. But the PDF24 Creator home screen features a grid of 47 tiles, each one labeled with a specific task such as “Merge PDF” and “Sign PDF,” under a headline asking, “What do you want to do?”

Each task in PDF24 Creator has its own separate interface which can make editing workflows clunky.

Michael Ansaldo/Foundry

Clicking on any tile opens a new separate interface to perform that particular task. That means if you want to, for example, edit a PDF, add a watermark, and protect it with a password, you have to open the file three separate times — once in each interface — to perform those tasks. This modular approach works alright if you just have one or two things you want to do with a document, but it quickly gets tiresome with more lengthy workflows or when working on multiple PDF files.

The various interfaces are easy to use, though the toolsets are fairly limited. You have only text, shapes, and free-drawing tools to annotate a document; there are no sticky notes, callouts, highlighters, or stamps. There’s also no redaction tool, per se. Rather you have to use the shape tool to create a box around the text you want to hide and black it out with fill color. This was typical of my experience using PDF24 Creator. While it fulfills most PDF editing needs, nothing works quite the way it does in a paid editor.

PDF24 Creator doesn’t offer much in terms of customer support. There are some how-to articles in a Help Center and a Contact link where you can submit an email through the website. Fortunately, most potential sticking points are easy to work through on your own.

While it fulfills most PDF editing needs, nothing works quite the way it does in a paid editor.

PDF24 Creator lets you set permissions for PDF files and protect them with a password.

Michael Ansaldo/Foundry

Is PDF24 Creator worth it?

Overall, PDF24 Creator is a capable editor but it’s best suited to small, on-the-fly edits. Its layout and modular approach make more extensive edits and longer workflows clunkier than they should be. In these cases, you’d be better served by one of the more advanced paid editors in our buying guide.