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First Look: PDF Expert for Mac 3 Gets a Design Refresh, OCR Support, New Export Options, and Changes to Its Business Model

PDF Expert by Readdle has been a leading PDF utility since the early days of the App Store, offering the kind of pro-level features that are critical to users whose work depends on managing and editing PDFs. With today’s update to version 3, PDF Expert for Mac debuts a new look, optical character recognition support, new export formats, and changes to its business model across all platforms. We’ve covered the core features of PDF Expert many times in the past, so let’s focus on the changes you can expect from today’s update.

The first thing you’ll notice about PDF Expert for the Mac is the new design, which has a much more modern feel. The toolbar is wider, the app’s iconography has been updated, your document’s title has been moved up and to the left, and there’s a new dark mode.

PDF Expert's new light and dark modes.

PDF Expert’s new light and dark modes.

The effect of the changes is excellent. As someone who works in dark mode most of the time, I appreciate its addition. Even if I’m working on a predominantly white PDF, the dark UI chrome of PDF Expert’s update helps me focus on the document instead of the app, the same way photo editing apps have done forever.

PDF Expert's toolbar and tabs have been redesigned on the Mac.

PDF Expert’s toolbar and tabs have been redesigned on the Mac.

I’m also glad the document title has moved out of the way to the left side of the window. Not only is it more consistent with Apple’s current design language, but by moving the title to the top of the window, the selected toolbar button and its actions are brought closer together, creating a tighter relationship between the two.

Readdle has added OCR support to PDF Expert too. If you work with PDFs a lot, you know the frustration of running across an image-based PDF that has text. That’s because you can’t search the text in an image-based PDF, copy it for use elsewhere, or highlight it.

Recognizing text in a scanned bill.

Recognizing text in a scanned bill.

With PDF Expert’s new Scan & OCR tool, the app will look for selectable text in your PDF. If none is found, select a language and click the Recognize button, and the app will process the file. When PDF Expert is finished, you can jump through each block of text that is recognized, making corrections as necessary. I tried the new OCR feature with a variety of scanned PDFs, and the results were good. There were some mistakes in low-resolution receipts, but the vast majority of the text was correctly recognized, and any errors were easy to fix.

You can correct any errors made by PDF Expert's text recognition engine.

You can correct any errors made by PDF Expert’s text recognition engine.

PDF Expert also allows you to clean up scans, which can help with the recognition process. You can crop images, split pages, clear unwanted information in the margin, apply filters, remove distortion, and set the page size. With a little tweaking, PDF Expert’s scanning tools help get the best OCR results and make your documents easier to read.

Filters and other scan cleanup options are available.

Filters and other scan cleanup options are available.

PDF Expert for Mac has more format options for exporting documents too. Word, PowerPoint, Excel, plain text, JPEG, and PNG are all export options now. This isn’t a feature I expect to use often, but I always appreciate having as many options for working with my documents as possible.

Finally, PDF Expert’s business model is changing with this update. For a $79.99/year subscription, users have access to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac versions of the app. The Mac version is also available as a standalone one-time purchase for $139.99, but if you choose that option, you won’t have access to the iPhone or iPad versions of PDF Expert. Students and teachers can subscribe to PDF Expert across all platforms for $39.99/year or purchase the Mac version for $69.99.

Existing PDF Expert for Mac users can continue to use the app with its pre-update features at no cost or can subscribe for 50% off the first year’s subscription price. Students and teachers who purchased the Mac version can move to the subscription for $19.99 for the first year. iOS subscribers can upgrade to the new subscription plan for $64.99 for the first year and $79.99/year thereafter.

PDF Expert 3 is available on the Mac App Store and for the iPhone and iPad on the App Store.

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