PDFpenPro 12 review

PDFpenPro 12 is a paid upgrade ($35) from the previous version as it includes a considerable number of new features, including ones that bring more business-like functionality to the Mac than is possible for its price with Adobe Acrobat (subscription fee!), PDF Expert or Apple’s Preview. Some of the new functionality, however, is entirely under the hood.

An example is the optimisation process. PDFpenPro 12 PDF reduces a PDF’s file size as much or as little as needed. This feature has been available for some time in Acrobat (if I’m not mistaken, it’s been a while since I looked at that app) so it’s good to have it, but my guess is that few people are going to change any of these settings unless they archive documents, need to comply with specific standards, or print them on older imagesetters. You can set options for colour, greyscale, or monochrome images to compress documents for sharing, storing, or archiving, all while retaining quality. One option is the capability to remove third-party metadata. You’ll also find that PDFpenPro 12 uses several compression methods such as MRC, CCITT, as well as post OCR compression.

The visible improvements start with the ability to create a PDF from customised paper styles with a specific orientation for new documents. When creating documents, you will need some powerful zooming functionality to position elements in exact positions. PDFpenPro 12 supports zooming in on specific areas of a page with a new magnifier window. You launch the window and place it wherever you want and then move the cursor over the document area you’re working on. In the window, you’ll see your magnified area with up to 2000% magnification.

One new annotation tool has been added to version 12: the callout tool. It’s a rectangular box with an arrow attached to it. A nice touch is that the arrow has a control point about halfway so that you can create an angle between the box and the arrow. The box is, of course, resizable and contains text that can be coloured.

The most important new feature that is most likely to appeal to businesses and people who need to digitally sign documents is PDFpenPro 12’s DocuSign support. DocuSign is a company that automates how businesses prepare, sign, act on, and manage agreements. Core to the system is the DocuSign Agreement Cloud. DocuSign offers eSignature, which it claims is the world’s number one way to sign electronically on practically any device, from almost anywhere, at any time. DocuSign’s platform has over 350 prebuilt integrations with popular business apps. And now it integrates with PDFpenPro 12 and it works like a charm.

You’ll need a DocuSign account (there’s a 30-days trial period) first. Once you’ve set that up, you can log in from within PDFpenPro 12. Your browser will be launched and you’ll be taken to the login page (which offers 2FA authentication).

The document can then be uploaded from within PDFpenPro. The captured screen video below says more than a thousand words. The whole process doesn’t take more than literally two minutes.

Finally, but not too important in my opinion, PDFpenPro 12 has a new welcome experience. It does offer you a few tips to start working with the app but as with most welcome screens, it stops being useful as soon as you know the app inside out.

My conclusion: PDFpenPro 12 puts powerful functionality that Acrobat delivers for some time now in the hands of Mac users without charging a subscription fee and that’s a good thing. PDFpenPro 12 can be downloaded and purchased herehttps://smilesoftware.com/PDFpenPro/ for €139.