Aug 17

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 it’s not obvious how to edit a pdf file.  NOw for proper editing you need to get a powerful program like Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Acrobat Professional, but the good news is that the OSX built in pdf reader app – ‘preview’ – can edit pdf files to a limited extent. You can’t move around or change what’s already in the pdf document, but you can add text and graphics. Here’s how. 
If you double click on any pdf file in OSX it will open in an application called preview. You can read the pdf and scroll around etc.

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.


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:

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.

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:

If you click on the text button you can add a text box to the pdf document 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 can cover over existing text using a rectangle with a white border like this.

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!

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!

38 Responses to “How to edit a pdf document on a mac”

  1. Betsy says:

    This helped me so much. Thanks so much!

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