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How to easily edit PDFs on Mac

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9 min read

You can't escape them — PDFs are everywhere, especially in the workplace. Although convenient to read, PDFs can be tricky to deal with if you just need to make quick changes to the text, sign a form, or send a file through a size-restrictive platform.

With a default PDF reader like Preview on the Mac, finding a certain word in the PDF is difficult and editing a document can be almost out of the question. Without knowing which tools to use, it will be very hard to make changes to a PDF document. Fortunately, there are plenty of PDF apps to help you get the editing job done.

How to edit any PDF on a Mac with ease

To correct text with Nitro PDF Pro:

  1. Open the desired PDF document in Nitro PDF Pro
  2. Highlight the text within the PDF and click Correct Text
  3. Erase the current text and type the desired changes

PDF editor for Mac

To insert and edit an image in PDF, you can simply drag and drop it onto your PDF page; then resize and adjust it to the page’s layout. If you need to reuse visuals, we recommend to save them to Nitro’s Library.

Edit images in PDF

You can also edit images by converting them into PDFs with Prizmo. With powerful OCR, Prizmo app instantly captures text and makes it fluid and editable. 

To create a PDF from an image with Prizmo, use the following steps:

  1. Click the plus icon in Prizmo
  2. Find your source in the drop-down menu
  3. Select an image that you'd like to convert to PDF and click Add
  4. Click Recognize in the top right corner or toggle Text mode in View.
  5. Editable text will appear on the right side of the window.

Recognize images to edit like PDFs

Add comments and annotations to a PDF

To help yourself with extra notes or annotations, you can add comments directly onto a PDF. Comments can be useful to readers when you want to provide extra information about certain parts of the document.

To add text using Preview app:

  1. Place your cursor where you want to insert text.
  2. Go to "Tools," click on "Annotate," select "Text," and start typing.
  3. To change the font, size, or color, go to "View," click on "Show Markup Toolbar," and press A.
  4. You also can move the text box anywhere on the document.

A regular PDF viewer app won't let you attach comments to specific areas on a PDF, so you need to use an editor like Nitro PDF Pro to do that. This app allows to add comments to PDF files with highlights, sticky notes, a freehand drawing. Annotations are useful because you can embed them into the file without being too distracting for a reader. You can also use the markup tools to add shapes around important areas of the PDF and underline things to remember.

To comment and make notes on PDF:

  1. Click on the Annotate Tool > Comment (cmd+8) or Notes (cmd+7) on the Nitro PDF Pro’s menu bar
  2. Tap on the area of the document where you want the comment or note to appear
  3. Type in the comment or note area field
  4. Drag the comment or note text box to the desired area on the document

How to add comments and notes to a pdf

Fill and sign PDF forms (e-sign)

Printing documents just to sign them and scan them back can be frustrating and time-consuming. Many of us don't even have printers anymore. But luckily with e-signatures, there's no need for all that.

Now you can easily add your signature to digital forms and documents in macOS. Whether you're looking to have a new client sign an agreement, a tenancy contract, or any other PDF form, e-signature will save you time (and ink).

To sign a document using Nitro PDF Pro:

  1. Click the Form Tool in Nitro’s menu bar > Signature
  2. Scan your signature or draw it with your trackpad, magic mouse, etc.
  3. Drag, resize, and correct the position of the signature inside your PDF file if necessary.

How do I add a signature to a PDFTo sign your PDF file with Preview app:

  1. Open the document you want to sign
  2. In main menu go to Tools > Annotate > Signature > Manage signatures 
  3. To create signature tap to Click Here to Begin, draw your signature on the trackpad, press any key when finish, and then Done
  4. You can also scan your handwritten signature - write it on a piece of paper, hold to be visible to the camera, and Preview will draw a virtual signature.
  5. Choose the signature created to insert it into the document. Drag, resize and correct position of your sign like a regular image

Sign PDFs via Preview app

Redact sensitive information from PDFs

Many of the PDF files on your computer may contain sensitive or personal information, leaving you at risk of becoming a victim to identity theft. For example, a PDF form could contain your tax information, credit card numbers, or other personal details that you don't want to share with third parties.

This is where PDF redaction comes in handy. Without an appropriate PDF editor like Nitro PDF Pro, it can be very difficult to remove parts of the text you want to hide from a document. Redaction can remove a word or an entire line of text with a black box or empty white space.

Of course, if you don't want to use software to redact your PDF, you can always take a black marker to cross out any information from a printed sheet. To make your life easier, use the following steps to redact sensitive information.

To redact an entire section of a document:

  1. Within NitroPDF Pro, click Tools and select the rectangle tool
  2. Select the area of the text you want to redact
  3. Click Format and Redact Text-Block

To redact selected text:

  1. Under Tools select Text Tools
  2. Select the text you want to redact
  3. Click Format and Redact Text – Block

Compress and share a PDF

If you don't have a strong or reliable internet connection, it can be hard to send large PDF files to friends or colleagues. In order to upload large PDF files onto the cloud, send via email, or add them into size-restricted forms, you'll need an app like PDF Squeezer to help you compress the PDF file while keeping the original quality. You can rest easy that this process won't convert your PDF into a ZIP file.

To shrink your PDF resumes, applications, or visa-related documents for the web, use the following steps:

  1. Open PDF Squeezer
  2. Drag the PDF file you want to compress into the "Drop Your Files Here" section
  3. At the drop-down menu, select your preferred dpi and image quality
  4. Click Save

Edit PDF file size

With a built-in feature to send your PDF files to friends, clients, or colleagues, it makes sharing your compressed documents super easy. Click Share to send your file via text, email, or other options.

Capture text from PDF

You can usually copy the text in your PDF when you open it in Preview, but you can also use third-party tools if the text is inside an image within your PDF.

TextSniper is an app that can help you copy text from non-textual formats, saving time on retyping addresses, quotes, phone numbers, etc. The tool extracts text from graphics, banners, presentations, and even videos.

Just select the area you want to extract text from and TextSniper copies it to your clipboard.

text from PDF

Edit and mark up PDFs with Preview

The experience of editing images with Preview is pretty intuitive. We've created a quick guidance for you to instantly find what you're looking for.

How to type on a PDF, add text and notes

Open the PDF in Preview and try to add text by clicking on the target text field. If it doesn't work, you'll have to add a new text or note field:

  1. Select Tools > Annotate > Text/Note.
  2. Click on the text/note box that appears in your document and start typing.
  3. Close the box by clicking outside it. You can move the note/text field anywhere via drag and drop.
  4. To customize fonts or color of text, select View > Show Markup Toolbar > A.

How to fill in and sign a form on Preview

You can fill and sign PDF forms or questionnaires that are made to be editable using your Mac’s built-in Preview app.

To check if your PDF form is editable, simply click on the field you need to fill out and see if you can type in it. Save your work by going to File > Export and clicking Save.

To sign your PDF, you can use either your device’s camera or trackpad. Here’s how.

Open your PDF in Preview, click the Show Markup Toolbar icon to view editing options and select the Signature icon, press Create Signature > Click Here to Begin (select Trackpad or Camera as your input tool first).

preview trackpad signature

Press Done and drag and drop your signature to the place in your document where you want it.

You can also opt to choose Camera as your signature tool. Just click the Camera tab, and you just need to sign your signature on a white piece of paper and hold it in front of your computer’s camera.

Highlight text in a PDF

To activate the highlight mode in Preview, select the Highlight button in the top right corner. Click on the down arrow next to the Highlight button to change color, or choose an option to underline or strikethrough.

When switched on, highlights will be applied to any text you click on. You can switch it off by clicking on the same Highlight button.

To view notes and highlights in the PDF, select View > Highlights and Notes.

Combine multiple PDFs

  1. To merge PDF files, open one PDF in Preview.
  2. Select View > Thumbnails to see the thumbnails of all pages.
  3. Click on Edit > Insert > Page from file and open another PDF.
  4. Choose destination and save the updated file as PDF.

Adding shapes and drawings

You can draw on your PDFs in Preview when going to Show Markdown Toolbar editing mode or you can use Nitro PDF Pro for advanced scribbling and drawing on your documents, and even inserting images from your clipboard.drawing in pdfs

To add a shape to your PDF with Preview, click the Shapes icon in the Preview editing bar and make your choice for the item you want to add. You can adjust your shape’s color and type inside.

To do the same in Nitro PDF Pro, use the Draw menu in the editing bar and select the shape you want added to your document from the drop-down menu.

Rotate, delete, rearrange pages, and renumber pages inside a PDF

You can cut pages out or change the order of pages in a few steps via thumbnails:

  1. Open a document in Preview.
  2. Navigate to View > Thumbnails.
  3. To rotate, click on a page thumbnail > Tools > Rotate Left or Right.
  4. To delete pages in a PDF, select thumbnail > Tools > Delete to remove a page from your PDF.
  5. Rearrange by dragging pages around in the sidebar.

To change page numbering, you can use Nitro PDF Pro editor. When you open a file, go to Edit > Headers, Footers, Page numbers > Insert. From there, you can customize the position and format of page numbers as well as define a starting page.Reorder and renumber PDF pages

Split PDF files

To separate pages in a scanned PDF, simply drag the page you want to remove from the thumbnails pane to desktop. If needed, you can combine those pages into a separate PDF file afterwards.

How to reduce PDF size

You can compress your PDF in Preview while exporting the doc. Once you're done with editing, select File > Export. Click on Quartz Filter to open the pop-up menu > Reduce File Size.

Apart from Preview, you can use a scanning application like Prizmo app to create easily searchable PDF files out of paper-based images like brochures, books, or posters. This app lets you scan and recognize any photo documents to make them editable. You can even take a photo of a physical document on your phone, and finish editing on your Mac.

To make corrections or rewrite some text within the original file with editable text blocks, try Nitro PDF Pro. Also you can use it to highlight, draw, scribble on the document.

How to edit a PDF using QuickLook

You can also use Mac’s QuickLook to edit your PDF without even opening it in Preview. Just select the PDF you want to edit in its folder and press Space. Click the Show Markdown Toolbar icon to go into editing mode.

pdf quicklook

How to add a signature using QuickLook

The process of adding a signature to your PDF in QuickLook is the same as doing so in Preview — select your PDF in its folder, press and hold Space, wait for the QuickLOok menu to appear, click the Show Markdown Toolbar icon to open the editing panel. Nex, find the Signature icon in the markdown toolbar, click Create Signature, select Trackpad or Camera to input your signature, and click Click Here to Begin. Add your signature, save it, and drag and drop it to its destination.

To save your edits in the PDF, click Done.

So with the use of a few apps, you'll easily be able to create, search, and share PDFs all while saving time and frustration by being able to directly make changes to your documents, add notes, or remove personal information with redaction. Best of all, Setapp can help you do all of the above and features every app you can use to increase your PDF productivity. You can try the apps mentioned here at no cost along with over 230 other high-quality macOS apps.

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