Changes to PDF software at CERN and what it means for you

The IT Department launched a “PDF replacement project” last year to investigate and test alternative products to Adobe Acrobat. Security vulnerabilities in Adobe Acrobat are indeed very high and the company also recently changed its pricing structure and business model which makes a site licence prohibitively expensive for CERN. The IT Technical User Meeting ( was regularly informed of the progress of the PDF replacement project, and the proposed new software has been available since February. Given the positive results, it is now time to replace the PDF software at CERN.

New PDF software

There is no like-for-like replacement. The software below represents the best tools found.

The new recommended PDF software depends on your operating system:


  • PDF Reader: please use Mac Preview (comes with MacOS)

  • PDF Editor: PDF Expert available via Mac Self-Service.


  • PDF Reader and Editor: PDF-XChange available via CMF.


What this means for you

Here we simply outline our recommended solutions depending on the PDF functions used:

  • Basic functions: if you simply open PDF files to read and/or print them, then please install the Reader solutions mentioned. In fact, your web browser usually has a PDF reader incorporated.

  • Editing functions: if you edit PDFs, such as replacing text and/or images, please install the Editor solutions mentioned. The feedback we received is very positive, many stating that the editing functions are easy to use.

  • Advanced functions: obviously there will be some use cases that cannot be satisfied, e.g. opening specialised PDF files incorporating 3D models, or embedding fonts on a Mac; where Adobe may be required. We recommend checking the “use case matrix”, testing the Editor solutions, and if your specific needs are not met, please follow the instructions below to purchase yearly access.

Please choose the appropriate solution for your needs and install the new software now!

The replacement timeline

As of September 2017, PC users will be prompted via CMF to remove Adobe Acrobat, while Mac users will be reminded via the usual channels. As of 15 October 2017, Adobe will stop supporting Adobe Acrobat XI Pro: the company will neither update its software any longer nor provide security updates.

How to purchase Adobe Acrobat DC

Should you still require Adobe Acrobat DC, please complete this request form.

Please note that Adobe Reader DC will be made available as a CMF package for special cases (e.g. reading 3D PDFs). However, other PDF software should be installed as the default to help strengthen security.

Further details are available at the following websites: