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How to Edit a PDF on Mac

A PDF editor is a program that lets you edit a PDF file on Mac. It can let you edit PDF text, add or remove images, highlight items, fill out forms, sign your name, and more. The easiest way to edit a PDF on a Mac is to use the built-in Preview program. There are also other options, including online and third-party PDF editors that might work better for you depending on what you want the PDF editor to do.

Edit PDFs with preview

Preview is a pre-installed program on your Mac that can open and edit PDF files. It’s about as full-featured as any other PDF editor, except it can’t edit pre-existing text. However, it has the added benefit that you don’t have to install anything else to use it. Just open the PDF and start editing right away.

Edit to PDF on Mac

Notes: If Preview does not start when you open the PDF file, open Preview first, then browse for the PDF from there. You can access Preview from the Launchpad: search Overview or find it in the list of programs. Once it’s open, go into file > Open to find the PDF.

It may be logical to think that the menu editing is what you use to find all PDF editing tools in Preview, but it’s not. Instead, this menu is used to delete pages from the PDF and insert pages from other PDFs (or create blank pages).

The preview also lets you rearrange the pages of the PDF by dragging them up or down from the sidebar. This means that you can make the second page the first page, or the last the second, etc. If you don’t see the sidebar in Preview, you can enable it from the menu display.

Preview editing tools

Most of the other PDF editing options in Preview are in the menu Tools. This is where you can bookmark the PDF or rotate pages. The menu Tools > annotate allows you to highlight text; underline text; strikethrough text, insert note, rectangle, oval, line, arrow and other shapes; typing on the PDF (anywhere or in form fields); use speech bubbles; and more.

Preview editing tools

Although the preview does not allow you to edit existing text in the PDF file, you can draw a white area over the text to hide it, then write your own text above the area with the text tool. It’s not as smooth as editing text with some PDF editors, but it’s your only option for editing text in a PDF file with Preview.

To show the annotation menu permanently for easy editing, you can enable it through the menu display. Depending on your version of macOS, it is called either Show markup toolbaror Show toolbarannotation tools.

Add signature in preview

As long as you have a trackpad or iSight camera connected to your Mac, you can also use Preview to insert your signature into the PDF. A freehand drawing tool is also available so you can draw your signature or draw shapes directly on the document.

Create new PDFs from old PDFs

Although it doesn’t really count as an ability editing of PDF, a bonus feature in Preview is the ability to create new PDFs from existing pages from another PDF. To do this, simply drag a page from the PDF (in the sidebar thumbnail view) to the desktop. This will create a new PDF containing a single page (or multiple pages if you selected multiple). Another easier way is to right-click on the page thumbnails and select Export under, then PDF as a format type.

Create new PDFs from old PDFs

Other PDF Editors for Mac

If the preview features aren’t what you’re looking for, chances are you’ll find them in another PDF editor, not built into macOS. We keep a list of free PDF editors and most of them also work on Mac.

pdf editor for mac

Another way to edit a PDF on macOS is to use an online PDF editor. Through this list linked above are several of these types of services. They work by having you upload the PDF to the editing website where you can make the changes and then download the PDF to your computer.

Problems with PDF editors

In a perfect world, a PDF editor for Mac would allow you to do all sorts of things on the PDF. This would not only let you add shapes and signatures, for example, but also edit existing text in the document or add more text. Unfortunately, not all PDF editors support all of these features, including Mac’s Preview program (you can’t edit text with it).

Another problem is that PDF editors that takes support advanced features such as text editing, do so through what is called Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which is the software’s attempt to “read” the text of the document and enter it automatically. for you, after which you can edit the PDF like any other document. However, these programs usually don’t convert perfectly, which means you end up with incorrect translations and strange formatting styles.

Notes: A similar task you might want to do is convert the PDF to another file format, such as a DOCX file for use in MS Word, or an EPUB file to use the PDF as an eBook. These types of edits can be done with a document file converter, not a PDF editor. Similarly, to convert a different file in PDF filesyou can use a PDF printer.

In this guide, you have learned how to edit PDF on Mac. If you have any questions or suggestions, let us know in the comments. Also check this guide if you want to learn how to convert PDF to JPG on Mac.

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