An Alternative to Adobe Acrobat Pro

By on Jun 5, 2014

The standard electronic document format for the insurance industry is Adobe System’s PDF. Professional strength PDF software is a must for all insurance organizations. Many use Adobe Acrobat Pro but, at a retail price of $450, it can get expensive to add to every desktop.

Fortunately, there are very capable alternatives. One that I have been testing is the new version of Nuance Communications PDF software – Power PDF Advanced. It is a full-featured, professional PDF program that costs at least one-third the price of Acrobat. A 30-day free trial is also available.

Nuance also offers the Power PDF Standard at $100, but the PDF Advanced ($150) is what you will want.

Some of the features of the advanced version include:

  • Redaction to black out sensitive information, including the ability to automatically search and redact.
  • Bates stamping and advanced header and footer functionality.
  • Secure delivery, encryption, and digital rights management capabilities.
  • Integration with file-sharing sites such as Box, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Docs, or Office 365.
  • Integrated Dragon Notes speech recognition, enabling users to add notes to PDF files by dictating text. Nuance sends the speech recording to its servers in the cloud to process.
  • Integrated OCR using the same technology as Nuance’s OmniPage.
  • Watched folder and batch sequence capabilities to automate common tasks and move files from one location to another.
  • Word processor-like ability to edit PDF content, including graphics and charts.

Nuance PDF Advanced

Of course, it also includes the features you would expect to find in a professional PDF program.

One of the most useful features just might be FormTyper. Originally included in the Nuance PaperPort software, this program has improved significantly. It allows you to take a scanned image of a form and automatically convert it to a fillable version.

Fields are automatically added and you are provided with the ability to edit field properties. For example, you can enforce field formatting, validate field information, and apply mathematical functions to field data. You can also add fields to the form if the automatic conversion misses them. Field types include: text box, button, radio button, check box, combo box, list box, and digital signature.

I’m sure there is a power PDF user who could find shortcomings in this program over Acrobat, but I couldn’t. I was able to do any of the tasks I would want with a PDF program.

Nuance Power PDF Advanced is currently available for $149.99. You can try Power PDF Advanced for yourself by downloading a free 30-day trial before deciding to get the full version.

What PDF programs have you used? Which ones do you have the most success with? Let us know.


  1. We have been using an alternative called PDF Editor by Tracker Software. It does editing and some form filling, and the price is much less than even than the Nuance product. Note that it does NOT do OCR nearly as well as the Nuance one does.

    You mention Adobe Pro. You can also get Adobe Standard for $100 less a seat. The only thing is doesn’t do is create Forms. Most people don’t need to do that. Maybe you can one copy of Adobe Pro for each office.

    There is another problem with a Tracker Software or a Nuance PDF Editor: It doesn’t work with all web sites that have a dependency on an Adobe product being installed. Yes, I am looking at you, City and Port of Los Angeles (There are also other insurance carrier ones, too)

    You can have Adobe Reader installed also, and this is what we do in our offices. But there remains a problem – because of the web site dependencies, you need to make Adobe Reader the default PDF application, which in turn frustrates the users who want all the features that a Nuance Power PDF Advanced provides! Yes, you can just save a PDF and then open it up through the more sophisticated product like PDF Advanced, but this is a source of frustration, and most of my users decide to make PDF Editor the default, and then deal with the web site issues as they come.

    You can bounce back and forth changing the default PDF programs in Windows, but the sad fact is that it doesn’t always work.

    We are reluctantly coming to the conclusion that we are better off spending the $$$ for Adobe since our Insurance lives are spent working with PDFs every hour of every day, and the effort to work with a less expensive product is Penny-Wise, Pound-Foolish.

  2. Adobe Acrobat Pro bulk licensing can be found for around the same price – $100 or so per user. I’ve used a few alternatives and, in my opinion, none of them work quite as well as the actual Adobe product. The latest has some incredibly slick form creation tools, including automatic field population.

    • Ryan, WHERE can you find Acrobat Pro for $100 for a commercial license? That’s far less than I find it. I am not talking about Adobe Standard OEM licenses. Full-blown commercial, per user licenses.

  3. What about Nitro Pro? Is it comparable to Acrobat Pro or Power PDF?

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