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Easy Ways to Edit PDF on Mac OS X

July 31, 2023 940 views

If you’ve ever been given a pdf file that you want to edit, or a pdf form that you need to complete and return electronically, you’ll realise that it’s not obvious how to edit a pdf file in OS X. You can make simple changes to a pdf file using the free built-in Preview App that comes free with OS X. Here’s how.

If you double-click on any pdf file in OS X it will open in an application called Preview.  Preview has a hidden “Annotations Toolbar’ that will allow you to edit the pdf file.  You can’t change what’s already in the pdf document.  But you can do minor changed like adding your own text and graphics, so this method will allow you to complete a form or make minor additions.

For full pdf editing capabilities (for example adding paragraphs of text, moving pictures around on a page etc) you need to get some fully blown pdf editing software like Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Acrobat Professional. But these cost hundreds of dollars. The good news is that ‘Preview’, the built-in OS X pdf reader app, has some basic pdf editing abilities built-in.

Here’s how to use the Annotations Toolbar

Step 1: Go up to the View menu and select the menu item called ‘Show Annotations Toolbar. This will give you a toolbar along the bottom of your preview window to help you edit the pdf file.

Note: In Yosemite and El Capitan the ‘Annotations Toolbar’ has been Renamed to ‘Markup Toolbar’  so that it looks like this:

Step 2: After you select  the ‘View: Show Annotations Toolbar’ menu you will see a toolbar across the bottom of the preview window that looks like this:

Step 3: These buttons will allow you to edit the pdf file. The left three buttons make an arrow, a circle or a rectangle. The fourth button along allows you to add text to the pdf.

Step 4: If you click on the text box button – the 4th button across,  you can then go up to your document and add in a text box like this:

This is a very easy way to fill in pdf files that are forms. If you highlight the newly added text you can change the font by pressing Apple-T and the font window will appear.

You can’t delete what’s already in a document, but you can draw a rectangle over it to hide it and type something new over the top.

You’ll notice you can’t change the rectangle color from being black, but you can put a very fat white border around it so it looks like a white rectangle!

Please note, this is more of a hack than a proper way to edit. The original information that you have edited will still be there. It is just covered over. If someone deletes the box they will see the original document.

If you want to totally change the images and text on an existing pdf file you will need an application like Adobe Illustrator that can actually edit the content of pdf files. But if you only want to make small changes, the built-in preview app will do the job!

If you’d like to sign a PDF document with your handwritten signature I have a separate article on how to do that.

FAQS

Q1: Is it possible to edit a PDF on Mac?

Ans: How do I make a PDF file editable on a Mac? If you open a PDF with Preview or Acrobat online tools, you can add notes, doodles, and comments to a PDF. You can edit the main text, images, and other elements by opening it with Acrobat.

Q2: Is there a free PDF editor for Mac?

Ans: WPS is a free Mac PDF editor. It functions like Preview, offering markup tools that help highlight important PDF content. You can also add and edit notes, crop PDF files, and more

Why WPS is easy to use

WPS Office is supported by Windows, Linux, Android, iOS and other platforms, xp, windows 7, windows 10 and other MAC systems are supported, either on the PC or cell phones, can provide users with a variety of document services.

The WPS Office tool is one of the tools you can use for free. Adding an image to a PDF online is quite simple with the help of WPS Office, a strong online tool. You can include almost any kind of image format, including GIF, PNG, JPG, and TIFF. Every user's navigation is made simple by the easy conversion procedure and the clear UI. There is no registration fee and this program is free. WPS Office is compatible with all widely used web browsers and operating systems, including Linux, Windows, Mac, and Android.


15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.