How to Edit a PDF on Your Mac Featured Image

How to Edit a PDF on Your Mac: 4 Best Methods

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Last updated: October 10, 2023

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TL;DR

Mac’s built-in Preview app offers a range of editing capabilities, from filling in forms and highlighting text to inserting new text and redacting sections. Additionally, third-party apps and online editors provide advanced features for comprehensive PDF editing.

Editing a PDF on a Mac allows for content corrections, image adjustments, attachment additions, page management, annotations, form filling, layout tweaks, and date/time updates.

Key Points

  • Preview on Mac is a versatile tool that allows you to annotate, add text, insert signatures, rotate pages, and combine multiple PDFs.
  • QuickLook is another quick tool for editing and reviewing PDFs directly from Finder.
  • You can also use third-party PDF editing apps like Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, PDF Expert, and Foxit PhantomPDF. They offer advanced editing features, including OCR and extensive annotation tools.
  • Web-based platforms, such as Adobe Acrobat’s online services, also allow editing from any device with an internet connection.

PDFs are everywhere, and while they’re great for preserving layouts, editing them can feel like trying to change the paint on a sealed envelope. But guess what? Your Mac has some tricks up its sleeve to simplify editing a PDF.

So, if you regularly deal with PDFs, dive into this guide, and I’ll walk you through the steps and techniques to efficiently edit a PDF on your Mac, ensuring your documents always look polished and professional.

Why Edit a PDF on Your Mac?

Editing a PDF allows for versatility and adaptability, ensuring the document remains relevant, accurate, and effective for its intended purpose. Here are a few reasons why you might want to edit a PDF on your Mac:

  1. 📝 Content Corrections: Typos, outdated information, or inaccuracies might need fixing, especially in professional or academic documents.
  2. 🖼️ Image Adjustments: Replace, resize, or reposition images to enhance the document’s visual appeal or accuracy.
  3. 📎 Attachment Additions: Embed links, videos, or other multimedia elements to make the PDF more interactive and informative.
  4. 📄 Page Management: Rearrange, add, or delete pages, especially in lengthy reports or presentations.
  5. ✍️ Annotations: Highlight, underline, or comment on specific sections for personal reference or collaborative feedback.
  6. 🖊️ Form Filling: Complete application forms, surveys, or contracts distributed as PDFs.
  7. 📐 Layout and Design Tweaks: Adjust margins, spacing, or fonts to improve readability and presentation.
  8. 📅 Date and Time Updates: For event flyers, schedules, or timetables that are reused and need periodic date changes.

How to Edit a PDF Using Preview

Mac’s built-in Preview app is more than just a tool for viewing images and PDFs. It’s a versatile utility that offers a range of editing capabilities for PDF documents. Whether you’re looking to annotate, add text, or even insert a signature, Preview has got you covered.

In the sections that follow, I’ll break down the various ways you can use Preview’s features to edit a PDF on your Mac.

How to Fill in a PDF Form

Many organizations use PDF forms as a seamless way to gather information without printing or manual data entry. Whether it’s an application, survey, or official document, knowing how to fill in a PDF form is an essential skill.

Here’s how to fill in a PDF form on your Mac:

  1. Launch the PDF with fillable fields in Preview.
  2. Look for elements like text boxes or checkboxes. These are interactive sections you can edit.
  3. Click a fillable text box.
click a fillable text box
  1. Once clicked, start typing to input your information.
input your information in the fillable text box
  1. Click checkboxes to select or deselect them as needed.
click checkboxes to select or deselect
  1. After making all necessary changes, click File in the menu bar, and select Save to store your modifications.
click file in the menu bar and select save

How to Highlight Existing Text on a PDF

Highlighting specific sections or phrases in a PDF can act as your guiding markers, ensuring you can easily revisit important information. Whether you’re prepping for a presentation, studying for an exam, or reviewing a contract, the ability to emphasize key text is invaluable.

With Preview on Mac, this task becomes effortless. Here’s how:

  1. Launch the desired PDF document in Preview.
  2. Locate and click the Highlight button in Preview’s menu bar.
click the highlight button in previews menu bar
  1. Use your mouse cursor to drag and select the text you want to highlight.
drag your cursor and select the text you want to highlight
  1. To change highlight color, click the arrow icon next to the Highlight button.
click the arrow icon next to the highlight button
  1. Choose your preferred color from the drop-down menu.
choose a highlight color from the drop down menu
  1. If you’ve previously highlighted some text and wish to change its color, right-click the text and choose a new color from the drop-down menu.
right click the text and choose a new color from the drop down menu

How to Insert New Text on a PDF

Inserting new text can transform a standard PDF into a personalized document tailored to your needs. Whether you’re adding notes for a colleague, filling in missing details, or writing a comment, the ability to seamlessly integrate new text is crucial.

Here’s how to add new text to a PDF using Preview:

  1. Launch the desired PDF document in Preview.
  2. Click the Show Markup Toolbar button in Preview’s menu bar.
click the show markup toolbar button in previews menu bar
  1. It will display a markup toolbar under Preview’s menu bar. Choose the Text button to add a text box to the document.
choose the text button to add a text box to the document
  1. Use your mouse to drag and place the text box in the desired location.
  2. Double-click inside the text box to start typing or editing the content.
double click inside the text box to start typing or editing the content
  1. To customize the appearance of your text, click the Text Style button in the top right corner.
click the text style button in the top right corner

How to Permanently Redact Sections in a PDF

Redaction permanently removes data from a document’s view, ensuring it can’t be retrieved or seen by unintended eyes. Whether dealing with sensitive personal details, classified business data, or information that shouldn’t be publicly accessible, you should know how to redact sections in a PDF.

Here’s how to permanently redact sections in a PDF on your Mac:

  1. Launch the desired PDF document in Preview.
  2. Click the Show Markup Toolbar button in Preview’s menu bar.
click the show markup toolbar button in previews menu bar
  1. Choose Redact.
click the redact button on the markup toolbar
  1. Confirm your decision by clicking OK.
click ok on the confirmation pop up
  1. Use your mouse to drag and highlight the section of the PDF you want to permanently hide.
drag and highlight the section of the pdf you want to permanently hide
  1. After redacting the desired sections, go to the menu bar, click File, and select Save to finalize the changes.
click file in the menu bar and select save

How to Add Shapes and Drawings to a PDF

Visual elements like shapes and drawings can elevate the clarity and appeal of a PDF document. These graphical additions can make a difference, whether you’re marking up a draft, illustrating a point, or adding a personal touch.

Here’s how to add shapes and drawings to a PDF:

  1. Launch a PDF document in Preview.
  2. Click the Show Markup Toolbar button in Preview’s menu bar.
click the show markup toolbar button in previews menu bar
  1. To insert a shape, click the Shapes button in the toolbar.
click the shapes button in the toolbar
  1. Select your desired shape (e.g., square, circle).
select your desired shape like square circle
  1. The shape will be added to the document. Drag to reposition and resize it as needed.
  2. For freehand drawing, choose the Sketch or Draw icons from the toolbar.
for freehand drawing choose the sketch or draw icons from the toolbar
  1. Use your mouse to draw directly onto the PDF pages.

How to Insert a Signature to a PDF

Whether it’s finalizing a contract, approving a proposal, or authenticating a document, adding your signature gives it a stamp of authenticity and intent. While signing a physical paper is straightforward, doing the same on a digital document can be tricky.

With Preview on Mac, embedding your signature into a PDF is simple and secure. Here’s how:

  1. Launch your desired PDF document in Preview.
  2. Click the Show Markup Toolbar button in Preview’s menu bar.
click the show markup toolbar button in previews menu bar
  1. Click the Sign button.
click the sign button
  1. If you already have a signature saved in Preview, select it, and it will be added to the document. Drag to reposition and resize it as needed.
  2. If you don’t have a signature saved, you can draw your signature using the Trackpad or Camera to upload an image of your signature.
you can draw your signature using the trackpad or camera
  1. Once created or uploaded, click Done.
click done after adding your signature
  1. Then, click the Sign button again and you’ll see your signature there.
click the sign button and select your signature
  1. Click the signature to insert it into your document and adjust its position and size as necessary.
insert your signature to your pdf

How to Rotate PDF Pages

Every now and then, you may come across a PDF with pages oriented differently than you’d like. Maybe it’s a scanned document that landed sideways or a landscape-oriented chart in a predominantly portrait document. Whatever the reason, you can rotate PDF pages on your Mac using Preview: 

  1. Launch the desired PDF document in Preview.
  2. In the sidebar, click the page you want to rotate.
select a page in the left sidebar
  1. Click the Rotate button to turn the page to the desired orientation.
click the rotate button in the top menu
  1. After rotating the page, go to the menu bar, click File, and select Save to finalize the changes.
click file in the menu bar and select save

How to Combine Multiple PDFs

If you have separate PDFs related to a single project or topic, merging them can make organization and sharing much easier. Combining multiple PDFs into one document streamlines your files and enhances readability and accessibility for recipients.

Here’s how to combine multiple PDFs on a Mac:

  1. To combine PDF documents, open a PDF in Preview.
  2. Navigate to View > Thumbnails to display the page thumbnails.
click view and select thumbnails
  1. Then, go to Edit > Insert > Page from File.
click edit hover your mouse over insert and select page from file
  1. A new window will open. Here, select and open a new PDF file and click Open.
select a pdf and click open
  1. This will add the PDF file to the list.
combined pdf pages
  1. Finally, select your desired location and save the combined document as a new PDF.

How to Edit a PDF Using QuickLook

While many are familiar with Preview as Mac’s go-to PDF viewer, there’s another gem hidden in plain sight: QuickLook. This handy tool offers a swift glance at your files without fully opening them, making it perfect for quick edits and reviews.

Here’s how to edit a PDF on your Mac using QuickLook:

  1. Select a PDF file in Finder and press the Spacebar to open it using QuickLook.
  2. Once the PDF is open in QuickLook, click the Markup button in the top right corner.
click the markup button in quicklook
  1. Use the free drawing or pen tools to sketch or annotate directly on the document.
click the sketch or pen button in quicklook
  1. Click the Shapes icon to add different shapes.
insert a shape in quicklook
  1. Click the Signature icon to add a saved signature image to the document.
click the signature button in quicklook
  1. Adjust the orientation or crop sections of the PDF as needed.
click the crop or rotate icon in quicklook
  1. After making your desired edits, click Done to save the modifications directly to the PDF file.
click done once your done with changes in quicklook

Via Third-party PDF Editing Apps

While Mac’s built-in tools like Preview and QuickLook offer a range of PDF editing capabilities, sometimes you might need more firepower. This is where third-party PDF editing apps come into play.

These applications often provide advanced features, such as batch editing, OCR (Optical Character Recognition), and extensive annotation tools, catering to casual users and professionals.

Here are some top third-party PDF editing apps available for Mac:

  1. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC: A powerhouse in PDF editing, Adobe Acrobat Pro DC offers a comprehensive suite of tools. From advanced editing and OCR to creating interactive forms and securing documents, it’s a go-to choice for professionals.
  2. PDF Expert: Known for its intuitive interface, PDF Expert allows users to edit text, images, and links. It also supports annotations, form filling, and offers a seamless reading experience.
  3. Foxit PhantomPDF: A robust PDF solution, Foxit PhantomPDF offers functionalities like editing, OCR, file conversion, and advanced security features. It’s also known for its collaboration tools.
  4. PDFpenPro: Tailored for Mac users, PDFpenPro provides tools for editing, OCR, and form creation. It also supports interactive PDFs, making it great for creating dynamic documents.
  5. Skim: A lightweight PDF reader and note-taker, Skim is perfect for those who primarily annotate documents. While it doesn’t have extensive editing capabilities, its annotation tools are top-notch.
  6. Wondershare PDFelement: A versatile PDF editor, PDFelement offers a range of features from text editing and annotations to form creation and batch processing. Its intuitive interface makes it user-friendly.
  7. Nitro Pro: Focusing on business users, Nitro Pro offers tools for editing, converting, and signing PDFs. It also emphasizes collaboration, making it easy to review and markup documents as a team.

Using Online PDF Editors

Online PDF editors are a convenient alternative to traditional software. These web-based platforms let you edit PDFs from any device with an internet connection, eliminating the need for downloads or installations.

They often provide a range of basic to advanced editing tools, from text modifications and annotations to merging, splitting, and converting PDFs.

There are many popular online PDF editors, but I’m using Adobe Acrobat’s online services as an example. Here are the steps:

  1. To get started, access the Acrobat online services from any browser.
  2. Click the Upload a file button.
  3. Select your desired file from your computer, cloud storage, Google Drive, or drag and drop it into the designated area.
  4. Once the file is uploaded, log in using your Adobe credentials to access a variety of editing tools, from adding text and highlighting to drawing.
  5. To collaborate, navigate to the Share option and distribute the document to others through email or a shareable link.

Edit PDFs Like a Pro on Your Mac

Whether annotating, redacting, inserting text, or merging multiple documents, the right solution to edit a PDF on your Mac is just a few clicks away. Here are some more tips for you:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Does Mac come with a native PDF editor?

    Yes, Macs come with a native PDF editor called Preview. It allows you to view, annotate, and make basic edits to PDFs without any additional software. It’s a versatile tool integrated into macOS for convenient PDF management.

  2. How do I delete part of a PDF?

    To delete part of a PDF, use software like Adobe Acrobat or Preview on Mac. Open the PDF, select the portion you want to remove, and use the delete or redaction tool. Always save your changes after editing.

  3. Why can’t I edit a PDF document on Mac?

    If you can’t edit a PDF, it might be password-protected, or you’re not using the right software. Mac’s Preview offers basic editing, but for advanced features, consider using Adobe Acrobat or other third-party PDF editors.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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