PDF printers allow you to turn a document into a PDF file instead of printing a hard copy or saving it as other files, such as .docx files.
PDF files are so mainstream that virtually every computer can open them. With PDF printers, you may also be able to create and edit these documents and manage the sending and physical printing of the documents.
A PDF printer is a program with the purpose of allowing you to “print” PDF files, taking a document such as a web page or even a Word doc and turning it into a PDF. Many of the PDF printers also take over the management of all PDF docs on your device.
Windows PDF printers vary in features and may allow you to do things like change the orientation, select the quality, and more.
Usually, to use your PDF printer, you will go to File and then Print on a document, and the option to save to PDF will be there as an alternative to using a physical printer.
How did we test and choose the very best free PDF printers for Windows?
Our team has sampled a huge variety of different PDF printers and, using some key criteria, whittled the products on the market down to the top 12. We’ve considered the main things we think that most people will be looking at when downloading PDF printers for Windows, including:
- Quality. Are the digital documents saved with clarity, and do physical prints match that quality?
- Choosing the page orientation, reversing, and rearranging the pages.
- Speed and efficiency of printing and saving.
- Different modes and formats, such as poster and booklet modes.
- Commenting and collaborative tools.
- Editing functions allow you to add images, signatures, and interactive forms.
- Ease of use and user-friendly design.
- Printing options, such as grayscale and color printing.
These features and functions helped us establish 12 fantastic options, and many of the best pdf printers Windows has to offer are totally free to download and use.
Let’s dive into our top 12.
Top 12 Best Free PDF Printers for Windows in 2023
Best for: Professional document management
Price: Free trial ($14.99/Month)
Adobe Acrobat is possibly the best-known PDF printer out there, and while some of its features are free, many people pay for the pro version to get the full extent of the features.
The massive Adobe brand means a big team behind this software and constant updates. This means you can always use the latest version on your device, whether you’re on a laptop, tablet, or even your phone.
Adobe Acrobat Pro DC also has a huge number of editing functions to rearrange pages, change the orientation, and print in many different modes, selecting the quality and file size at the same time. If you need to print documents physically, Acrobat makes it super simple.
Though the free trial is a little restrictive, there is still a lot to like about the Adobe Acrobat software.
- Works seamlessly across devices, including phones and tablets.
- Excellent product support and tutorials.
- You need the paid version for the full list of features.
Best for: Simple editing and formatting
Price: Free trial (price from $79)
PDFelement is another piece of software that allows you to download and try a free version but isn’t one of the truly free PDF printers for Windows 10 and 11.
This functions as far more than a simple PDF editor, as it has a variety of other features, including a powerful edit mode. You could use PDFelement to design a brochure or magazine if you combine it with the right graphics.
As well as creating and converting different documents, this can allow for annotations, making it easy for different members of your team to add comments and suggestions. It is a powerful tool for a variety of workplaces or individual use.
- Powerful and simple editing.
- Easy to annotate documents.
- Plenty of security settings and password protection.
- Not free and quite expensive to unlock all features on all devices.
Best for: Use in local languages
Bullzip is a brand with a variety of different PDF programs, including a free PDF printer. This may be the best free PDF printer Windows 10 users can enjoy without paying anything, and it is also compatible with Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP, and many versions of Windows Server.
The PDF printer only has some limited features and functions due to being free, but it is a useful addition to a lot of personal printers.
It features the option for password protection and encryption for sensitive documents, and you can make simple edits such as adding a watermark. Bullzip does not facilitate more complex edits.
A printer is a great option for those who don’t need to do a lot of intense editing.
Bullzip is also very good for those who don’t speak English as a first language as there are builds in a variety of different languages.
- Totally free.
- Built-in a variety of languages.
- Password protection and encryption on files.
- Only allows for limited editing.
Best for: Creating PDF forms
Price: Free trial (price from $159.00)
Foxit PDF Creator is another powerful PDF printer and editing suite. It is also one of the very best if you need to create forms to upload on your website and allow for interactive answers. You can add” check, combo, and list boxes; text, signature, barcode, date, and image fields” so people can respond to your questions.
The PDF creator also has the option to create encrypted PDF/UA and PDF/VT standard compliant documents, so if you want to make sure your docs are safe and secure, this is a good option.
You can scan your documents, too, and there is a basic OCR function to turn the scanned files into a digital, searchable asset.
The editing features are satisfactory, and while not as simple as some of the other PDF printers, it doesn’t take too long to get to grips with them.
- Compliant documents with great security.
- Easy to create forms and questionnaires with interactive fields.
- Expensive for a license.
- Not as easy to use as some other editing suites.
Best for: Affordable “Pro” upgrade
Price: Free trial (price from $19.95)
While a lot of the options on the list require you to pay a decent amount of money to upgrade to the pro version, EaseUS has a PDF editor that is relatively affordable to get the most possible out of.
So, does it live up to expectations?
This editor has a pretty straightforward editing suite that is easy to use and allows you to import and convert PDF files into a variety of other file types, including Excel and PowerPoint.
The OCR functionality means you can open or import documents (even scanned documents) and turn the PDF into an editable file, where you can alter the text.
The EaseUS PDF Editor also has the option to sign, encrypt, add and remove passwords, and watermark your PDF.
All of this at a very reasonable price per license, with an option to pay monthly if you prefer.
- Flexible plans and payments.
- Affordable Pro upgrade.
- Reasonably reliable optical character recognition.
- Free trial version adds an unwanted watermark
Best for: Free PDF printer with a simple layout
Price: Free for non-commercial use
The PDF-Xchange Printer software is free for non-commercial use, meaning that for most individuals, it is a suitable, lightweight piece of software providing basic PDF functionality.
It can’t do much editing, but it has a reliable system for adding metadata, printing to GDI and XPS, and creating prints from various Windows applications.
It makes it easy to manage and attach your PDFs and works on historical versions of Windows.
- Free for non-commercial use.
- Simple layout that is easy to get the hang of.
- Great Windows compatibility.
- Very limited editing functionality.
Best for: Lightweight PDF saving and printing
Sometimes, you want a reliable piece of software that always gets the job done without having to worry about additional features or learning how to use it by spending hours reading the user manual.
CutePDF Writer provides you with exactly that, and it is very simple and lightweight, taking minimal space on your computer and virtually no processing power to run.
CutePDF Writer does have a sibling Editor product if you want more functions, but for most of us, the option to save PDFs from a variety of Windows programs and to print, attach to emails, and add secure passwords is enough.
- Lightweight and takes up virtually no space on your computer.
- Easy to use.
- Can add secure passwords to PDF documents.
- No editing functionality.
- Limited features with no OCR or formatting choices.
8. Nitro PDF
Best for: PDF printer with mobile app
Price: Free trial ($199+ per license)
Nitro PDF is a great option to work across multiple devices. It gives you pretty powerful PDF editing and creation from your desktop or laptop, but the mobile app is available for Android and iOS, which means you can take your creation on the go with you.
On top of this, Nitro PDF has some powerful OCR functionality, turning scanned documents into editable ones.
Sign, merge, and edit existing documents before you print them, allowing you a great level of flexibility and simple and straightforward editing controls. Nitro PDF is both intuitive and secure.
If you want to buy multiple licenses for your team, this is not a cheap way of doing things, but the functions are impressive.
- Excellent mobile application as well as Windows software.
- Secure signing and editing.
- Expensive for multiple team members.
9. Expert PDF
Best for: Conversion
Price: Tiered pricing
Expert PDF is a great option for converting documents, recognizing over 200 different file types, and allowing you to convert them into PDFs at the click of a button.
The tiered membership means you will be paying yearly for your license based on how many features you need.
You can enjoy features such as OCR and secure document signing and some basic editing such as rearranging the pages and adding images and stamps into the docs for a relatively low price.
The editing is relatively basic, but it is enough for most people’s needs.
- Affordable for bulk licensing for a team within a workplace.
- Recognizes a huge number of file types and converts them with ease.
- Convenient batch OCR processing.
- Basic editing features.
- Limited free trial.
10. Sumatra PDF
Best for: PDF document viewer
Sumatra PDF functions as a PDF printer, meaning that you can save documents to PDF or print from the software, but its best functions are in the super simple layout and the fact that it works well as a PDF reader and viewer.
Suppose you are looking for an option that can give you a visual library of all of your documents, allowing you to flick through with ease. In that case, Sumatra is a good option, a little bit like an alternative to the Kindle app but with more PDF functionality.
You can also read a variety of other files, including PDF, ePub, MOBI, CHM, XPS, DjVu, CBZ, and CBR, within the Sumatra app.
- Totally free.
- A simple, visual layout.
- No real editing functionality.
- Not possible to sign or password protect documents.
Best for: Simple PDF downsampling
PrimoPDF is another product made by Nitro PDF, and this is just a simple way to view, downsample, and print a variety of PDF documents.
As PDF printers go, it is relatively simple to use, with a straightforward layout letting you choose between things like color and grayscale and then the size of the file you want to create.
It doesn’t have advanced editing, but you can take advantage of a few additional functions and features like password protection. It is also compatible with a variety of versions of Windows, including Windows 8, 10, and 11.
- Good compatibility.
- Free option to downsample and lower the file size of PDFs.
- Not many editing functions.
- Not as secure as some other options.
Best for: Free Microsoft Office add-on
doPDF is an excellent add-on for Microsoft Office applications, including Word and Outlook. It allows you to click a button and turn the file you’re working on into a PDF. There are hidden hyperlinks, and you can easily convert bookmarks and documents from a variety of sources.
There is also a variety of different PDF output presets, so you can choose between different qualities and file sizes. You may need a large file size to retain the quality of an image, for instance.
doPDF doesn’t allow you any editing functionality, it simply lets you save and print to PDF, but for basic and free functions, this could be all you need.
- Totally free.
- Easily connects to a variety of Microsoft Office applications, including Word and Outlook.
- No advanced editing functions.
- No simple way to add password protection.
1. Can I use a PDF printer to sign a document?
Some PDF printers have secure signing to allow you to either stamp your signature or physically sign using a digital signature within the PDF itself. This depends on the functionality, but a PDF editor like Foxit PDF Creator can sign documents with ease.
2. What is encryption on a PDF?
Many PDF printers allow you to encrypt, which means adding a secure password to the document and preventing others from accessing it if the document falls into the wrong hands. Encryption can be done in a variety of methods, including using Java.
3. Why do they call it “printing” a PDF?
This is a common question. The printing process doesn’t actually mean creating a physical print (though you can do exactly that). Printing a PDF is virtually turning a document into a flat PDF, which is then usually uneditable in its “printed” digital format.
It doesn’t necessarily involve any printing using ink and paper.
There we have it: 12 of the best PDF printers Windows machines can run, all of which have a free option or at least a free trial to get you started. It is surprising how much the features can vary, so before you download one, make sure it offers the exact functionality you need from your PDF printer and is compatible with your version of Windows.
Do you have experience with some of these Windows PDF printers? Leave us a comment below with your feedback.