The Best AI Platforms for Navigating PDFs—That Are Not ChatGPT

Get the most out of PDFs with these AI tools that offer enhanced reading experiences.

By Jason Nelson

4 min read

Decrypt previously looked at productivity plugins for OpenAI’s ChatGPT, but users need a ChatGPT subscription to use plugins. This article will discuss productivity platforms in the form of AI PDF readers that do not require a paid subscription to ChatGPT.

The Portable Document Format, or PDF, is a file type used to consistently display and print documents across different devices and software. The once proprietary file format—and its most common interpreter, Adobe Readerlaunched over thirty years ago.

While PDFs simplify sending documents, they can hold hundreds of pages, and shifting through those pages can be extremely tedious. Artificial intelligence now makes it possible to effectively ask questions of PDF documents and get to the important information buried in the document, saving time and sanity.

The following platforms were selected not just because they do not require a ChatGPT Plus subscription, but also because of their ease of use, features, and low cost. Other criteria include accessibility, user interface, file compatibility, and language options.

Top AI Platforms for PDFs


Launched by San Francisco-based Anthropic in March, Claude is a free chatbot like OpenAI’s ChatGPT. With Claude, users can ask questions of the chatbot but also can upload PDFs and attachments for the AI to analyze. Earlier this month, Claude AI creator Anthropic secured $100 million in new funding from SK Telecom.


Like Claude, Perplexity is a ChatGPT clone that allows users to upload PDFs and files for the chatbot to analyze. Launched in August 2022, San Francisco-based Perplexity also includes images and links in its responses. While Perplexity is free, the platform offers an updated subscription tier that increases the number of files that can be uploaded, broader access to Co-Pilot, and GPT-4.


ChatPDF has a simple user interface that allows users to upload files from their computers or via a website URL. ChatPDF uses OpenAI’s ChatGPT 3.5 and does not require an account, but signing up by connecting a Gmail account for a ChatPDF account is necessary if the user wants to save their chat history. ChatPDF is free to use but offers a paid subscription that increases the allowed size of PDFs, how many PDFs a day can be uploaded, and the number of questions users can ask.


AskYourPDF is another PDF analysis tool that lets users upload files from their computers or provide links to documents for the chatbot to analyze. Beyond its free version, AskYourPDF includes three subscription options, Premium, Pro, and Enterprise, allowing users to upload up to 2500 - unlimited pages per document, between 30MB and custom. The Pro tier includes the ability to ask unlimited ChatGPT plugin questions with longer reply lengths. AskYourPDF also has a Chrome browser extension with a mobile app coming soon.


LightPDF is an AI PDF reader that utilizes OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 and has an impressive number of additional features, including a desktop version that can be downloaded for Windows PCs. LightPDF also allows chatting with PDFs, Word documents, Excel files, PowerPoint, URLs, and EPUB files. LightPDF also comes with a Google Chrome extension and add-on for Google G-Suites for analyzing PDFs in Google Drive. LightPDF’s most interesting feature may be the ability to convert PNG files to PDFs. LightPDF is free, but to use the full suite of tools, users must pay for subscriptions that come in both personal and business tiers.


PDF.AI is another simple-to-use AI PDF reader; what sets it apart from others is the ability to mark the PDFs as private, which the company said means the document will not get uploaded to their servers. The responses are detailed, but the free version is limited to one upload, and then you’ll be asked to upgrade your account. The page version of PDF.AI includes no page, upload, or question limits and comes with longer reply length, access to a Chrome extension, and up to 50MB per PDF.

In conclusion

Because of the threat of AI hallucinations, any responses created by generative AI should be double-checked. AI hallucinations refer to instances when an AI generates untrue results not backed by real-world data. AI hallucinations can be false content, news, or information about people, events, or facts.

As generative AI becomes more mainstream, productivity AI platforms will continue to grow and provide more options for users seeking AI-based PDF readers without a ChatGPT subscription. Whether it's the feature-rich environment of LightPDF or the privacy-focused PDF.AI, these platforms offer a range of functionalities that cater to different needs.


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