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Adobe offers new free online tools for handling PDF files

Now you can password-protect PDFs or combine multiple PDF files into one at the Acrobat web site.

Adobe's Acrobat software handles PDF files
Illustration by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Last July, Adobe brought several PDF-handling tools to the web, for example to convert Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files into Adobe's widely used document format. Now the company has added some more new abilities and launched its Acrobat web site to house all the tools.

Among the new tools are options to password protect a PDF, split a single PDF file into two parts, or merge multiple PDFs into one, Adobe said Wednesday in a blog post. The tools are free to use, but for more-advanced options like editing text in a PDF document, Adobe offers its Document Cloud and Creative Cloud subscription plans.

Adobe's PDF, short for portable document format, began as a way to produce digital copies of conventional documents. It's become useful as an all-purpose format for archiving and sharing documents like bank statements, lawsuits, product manuals and college transcripts. Adobe released the core technology as a standard anyone can implement, and it's now built into web browsers and device operating system software.

Companies like Docusign have made a business based on PDFs you can sign digitally the way you once signed paper documents. Adobe offers that ability, too, and indeed that's one of the features available on Acrobat web -- also reachable by typing "sign.new" into your browser address bar.

That's because Adobe is using Google's .new internet domain service. Other examples include PDF.new to convert various Microsoft documents into PDF files, JPGtoPDF.new to convert graphics like JPEG and PNG, and CompressPDF.new to shrink a PDF file size.

All the tools can be used for free, though there are limits on some, and you'll need an Adobe account.

PDF viewing, filling out PDF forms and signing them, adding comments, and sharing PDFs for review is always free, Adobe said.

Other tools can be used once per day, up to five times a week: creating PDFs and converting files into PDFs, compressing PDFs, splitting PDFs and password-protecting PDFs.

Adobe's Acrobat web site offers a variety of PDF tools.

Adobe's Acrobat web site offers a variety of PDF tools.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET