Ultimate Guide: How to Easily Edit PDFs on a Mac

To Easily Edit PDFs on a Mac use Preview and QuickLook, that allow to add text, signatures, highlight text, rearrange pages, and reduce file size.

Struggling to edit PDFs on your Mac? You’re not alone. MacOS has a built-in free PDF editor that is perfect for the job.

This ultimate guide offers easy-to-follow steps and tips to navigate through how to Easily Edit PDFs on a Mac without needing extra software! Ready to become a pro in no time? Let’s dive right in.

Quick Summary

  • MacOS has built-in tools like Preview and QuickLook that allow users to edit PDFs on a Mac without additional software easily.
  • The built-in Preview app in MacOS enables users to add text and signatures, highlight text, rearrange pages, and reduce file size in PDF documents.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is another option for editing PDFs on a Mac, offering features such as adding text, adding signatures, and advanced highlighting options.
  • While the built-in tools provide basic editing functionality, third-party apps like Nitro PDF Pro offer more advanced features for extensive edits to PDFs.

How to Easily Edit PDFs on a Mac Using Built-in Tools

Editing a PDF on a Mac is made easy with built-in tools such as Preview and QuickLook, allowing you to add text, signatures, highlight text, rearrange pages, and reduce file size.

Editing a PDF with a Preview

Preview is a built-in tool on MacOS that empowers Mac users to effortlessly edit PDF files.

Here are simple steps to follow when you want to manoeuvre through this process:

  1. Open the desired PDF file in Preview.
  2. Use the toolbar at the top of the screen; it shows different options for editing.
  3. Click on ‘Show Markup Toolbar’; it’s an icon resembling a pen within a circle.
  4. Various editing options will be displayed: Sketch, Draw, Shapes, Text, Signature, etc. Choose your required feature.
  5. Make any necessary changes or additions with these tools – adding text or creating a signature.
  6. Use ‘Sketch’ or ‘Draw’ features to draw freely on your PDF pages.
  7. Choose the Highlight’ tool from the menu to highlight any part of the text.
  8. To rearrange or add new pages within the file, navigate to Thumbnails in Preview’s sidebar, where you can drag and drop pages at your convenience.
  9. Remember that changes can be saved automatically; if not, click ‘File’, then ‘Save’.

Editing a PDF with QuickLook

You can use the built-in QuickLook feature to edit a PDF on your Mac quickly.

Here’s how:

  1. Launch Finder and locate the PDF file you want to edit.
  2. Select the file and press the Spacebar to open it in QuickLook.
  3. Once the QuickLook preview window appears, click the “Markup” button in the top-right corner (it looks like a pen tip inside a circle).
  4. A toolbar will appear at the top of the window, offering various editing options.
  5. To add text to the PDF, click the “T” icon and click anywhere on the document where you want to insert text. Type your desired text and adjust its font size and color using the formatting options in the toolbar.
  6. Use the appropriate highlighting or underlining tools from the toolbar to highlight or underline text.
  7. Use the drawing tools provided to draw shapes or lines on your PDF.
  8. Once you’re done editing, click on “Done” to save your changes.

Adding text to a PDF

You have several options to add text to a PDF on a Mac. These methods allow you to easily insert and edit text within your PDF document without additional software or tools.

Adding text to a PDF

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Using Preview:
  • Open the PDF file in Preview by double-clicking on it.
  • Click on the “Tools” option from the menu bar and select “Annotate” from the drop-down menu.
  • Choose the “Text” tool from the annotation toolbar.
  • Click on the area of the document where you want to add text and start typing.
  • Customize the font, size, color, and alignment of the text using the formatting options in the annotation toolbar.
  1. With Adobe Acrobat Reader DC:
  • Download and install Adobe Acrobat Reader DC for free if you don’t already have it on your Mac.
  • Open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.
  • Click on “Fill & Sign” in the right-hand pane.
  • Select “Add Text” from the toolbar at the top of the window.
  • Click on the area of the document where you want to add text and start typing.
  • Adjust font properties such as font type, size, color, and alignment using options in the floating toolbar.

Adding a signature to a PDF

Adding a signature to a PDF is crucial to editing the document. It allows you to authenticate the content and ensure its integrity.

Adding a signature to a PDF

Here’s how you can easily add your signature to a PDF on your Mac:

  1. Open the PDF file that you want to edit on your Mac.
  2. Click on the “Markup Toolbar” button in the toolbar at the top of the window.
  3. From the options that appear, select the “Signature” tool.
  4. A drop-down menu will appear with three options: “Trackpad,” “Camera,” and “iPhone or iPad.”
  5. If you have a MacBook with a Force Trackpad, click on “Trackpad.” Otherwise, choose either “Camera” or “iPhone or iPad.”
  6. To create a signature using your trackpad, click on “Trackpad” and then use your finger or stylus to sign your name on the trackpad.
  7. If you prefer to use your camera or iPhone/iPad, select either option from the drop-down menu and follow the prompts to capture your signature digitally.
  8. Once you have created or captured your signature, it will be added as an image in the PDF file.
  9. You can now position and resize your signature by dragging it around within the document.
  10. To save your changes, click “File” in the menu bar and select “Save.”

Highlighting text in a PDF

To highlight text in a PDF on your Mac, follow these simple steps:

  1. Open the PDF file you want to edit using your preferred PDF editor software.
  2. Use the select or highlight tool from the toolbar at the top of the screen.
  3. Click and drag your cursor over the desired text to highlight.
  4. Release your cursor to apply the highlighting effect to the selected text.

Rearranging and adding pages

To easily rearrange and add pages to a PDF on your Mac, follow these simple steps:

  1. Open the PDF file you want to edit using Preview or other PDF editing software.
  2. In Preview, click “View” in the top menu bar and select “Thumbnails” to display the page thumbnails on the left sidebar.
  3. To rearrange the pages, click and drag a thumbnail to a new position within the sidebar. Release the mouse button when you have moved it to the desired location.
  4. If you want to add new pages to your PDF, go to “Edit” in the top menu bar, select “Insert” and then choose either “Page from File” or “Blank Page.”
  5. If you choose “Page from File,” locate and select the PDF file that contains the page(s) you want to add. The selected page(s) will be inserted into your current PDF.
  6. If you choose “Blank Page,” a blank page will be added at the end of your current PDF document.
  7. You can also use keyboard shortcuts for efficiency:
  • To move a page up, press Command + Up Arrow.
  • To move a page down, press Command + Down Arrow.
  • To duplicate a page, press Option while dragging and dropping a thumbnail within the sidebar.

Reducing PDF file size

Reducing the size of a PDF file is essential for efficient storage and sharing.

Here’s how you can easily reduce the file size of a PDF on your Mac:

  1. Compress images: If your PDF contains high-resolution images, they may cause its large file size. Use image compression tools like Adobe Acrobat or online services to optimize and reduce the size of these images without compromising their quality.
  2. Remove unnecessary elements: Identify unnecessary elements in your PDF, such as hidden layers, annotations, or bookmarks, that are unnecessary. Delete these elements using PDF editing software like Preview or third-party apps like Adobe Acrobat Pro.
  3. Adjust font embedding: Fonts embedded in a PDF can significantly increase file size. Remove any unnecessary font subsets or use fonts embedded in macOS to reduce the overall file size.
  4. Downsample images: Another effective way to reduce PDF file size is by downsampling images. Reduce the resolution and color depth of images within your PDF using tools like Adobe Acrobat or Preview.
  5. Convert to black and white: If applicable, convert colored pages or sections to grayscale or black and white. This conversion considerably reduces the file size without affecting readability.
  6. Flatten form fields: If your PDF contains interactive form fields, flatten them to remove any underlying data structure associated with these fields. Flattening form fields will help decrease the file size.
  7. Use online compression tools: Several online compression tools can automatically compress your PDF files while maintaining their quality. Simply upload your PDF, let the tool work, and download the compressed version.
  8. Save as optimized PDF: When saving your edited PDF file, use the “Save As” option and select “Reduce File Size” or “Optimize” if available in your chosen software/app.

How to Edit a PDF on Mac with Third-Party Apps

Discover Mac’s top PDF editing apps and learn how they can enhance your editing experience. From advanced features to user-friendly interfaces, these third-party apps offer a range of functionalities that will make editing PDFs on your Mac a breeze.

Don’t miss out on unlocking the full potential of your PDF editing capabilities – read more now!

Overview of popular PDF editing apps for Mac

Several popular PDF editing apps are available for Mac that provide a range of features and functionalities to enhance your editing experience.

One such app is Acrobat, which can be downloaded and installed on your Mac to edit PDF files easily.

It offers comprehensive tools, including adding or modifying text, images, links, and annotations in your PDFs. Another notable app is Nitro PDF Pro, specifically designed for Mac users who want to edit their PDFs effortlessly.

With Nitro PDF Pro, you can highlight text, correct errors, rearrange pages, and even reduce the file size of your documents.

These apps offer user-friendly interfaces and powerful editing capabilities that make them highly recommended choices for anyone looking to edit PDFs on a Mac.

Pros and cons of each app

The following table will compare the pros and cons of popular PDF editing apps for Mac, including Preview, QuickLook, Acrobat, and Nitro PDF Pro.

App Pros Cons
Preview It is a built-in free PDF editor available on MacOS. It offers various features like adding text, signatures, and highlighting text for easy editing of PDF files. It lacks advanced editing tools and can be limiting for heavy-duty PDF editing tasks. In addition, some users might find the interface a bit complex.
QuickLook QuickLook is another built-in tool for Mac users that allows a rapid view of documents without fully opening them. It is ideal for quick edits. Like Preview, QuickLook also lacks the advanced editing tools and functionalities of dedicated PDF editors.
Acrobat Acrobat is a robust PDF editor that offers a wide range of advanced editing tools. It can be downloaded and installed onto a Mac. Unlike the built-in Mac tools, Acrobat is not free. It can be quite expensive for users who do not require its extensive features regularly.
Nitro PDF Pro Nitro PDF Pro is a feature-rich software that not only allows users to edit text within a PDF but also provides the option to highlight text. While Nitro PDF Pro offers robust functionalities, it comes with a price tag that might be expensive for casual users. Additionally, it may have a steeper learning curve for beginners.

It’s important to remember that the best app for you will depend on your specific needs and budget. For simple and quick edits, Mac’s built-in tools could suffice, but for more complex tasks, investing in a dedicated PDF editor might be worthwhile.

Features and functionalities of each app

Several popular PDF editing apps are available for Mac, each offering unique features and functionalities. One such app is Acrobat, which allows users to edit PDFs by adding or deleting text, images, and even entire pages.

It also offers advanced options like OCR (Optical Character Recognition) for converting scanned documents into editable text.

Another app worth considering is Nitro PDF Pro, which provides various editing tools, including highlighting and correcting text within a PDF.

Nitro PDF Pro also supports collaboration features, making it easy to review and make document changes with others.

If you prefer a free option, Preview is the built-in app on Mac that can be used as a basic PDF editor. While its capabilities may not be as extensive as dedicated editing apps, Preview allows users to add annotations, rearrange pages, and make minor edits to text and images in a PDF file.

Tips and Tricks for Efficiently Editing PDFs on a Mac

Mastering keyboard shortcuts is essential for efficient PDF editing on a Mac. Use shortcuts like Command + B to bold text, Command + I to italicize text, and Command + Shift + V to paste without formatting.

Keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can greatly enhance your efficiency when editing PDFs on a Mac. Here are some useful keyboard shortcuts to help streamline the process:

  1. Command + A: Select all text or objects in a PDF.
  2. Command + C: Copy selected text or objects.
  3. Command + V: Paste copied text or objects.
  4. Command + X: Cut selected text or objects.
  5. Command + Z: Undo the last action.
  6. Command + Y: Redo the last action.
  7. Command + F: Find specific text within a PDF.
  8. Command + G: Find the next occurrence of the searched text.
  9. Option + ← (left arrow key): Move the cursor back one word at a time while editing text.
  10. Option + → (right arrow key): Move the cursor forward one word at a time while editing text.

Using OCR (Optical Character Recognition)

One powerful tool for efficiently editing PDFs on a Mac is OCR or Optical Character Recognition. This technology converts scanned documents or image-based PDFs into searchable and editable text.

With OCR, you can easily extract and modify text from these files, saving time and effort.

Using OCR on your Mac, you can transform static PDFs into dynamic documents that can be edited like any other text file.

Whether correcting typos in a scanned document or extracting important information from an image-based PDF, OCR makes the process quick and seamless.

OCR is especially useful when working with large volumes of data or conducting research where precise searchability is essential.

By converting your scanned documents into editable text with OCR on your Mac, you’ll have greater control over the content and ultimately enhance productivity.

Utilizing advanced editing tools

To take your PDF editing skills on a Mac to the next level, you can utilize advanced editing tools that offer more functionality and flexibility. Here are some advanced editing tools that you can use:

  1. OCR (Optical Character Recognition): Using OCR technology, you can convert scanned PDFs into editable text documents. This allows you to make changes to the content within the PDF, such as correcting typos or updating information.
  2. Advanced text editing: Some PDF editors for Mac offer advanced text editing features that enable you to edit the font, size, color, and formatting of the text in your PDF document. You can also add or delete text as needed.
  3. Image editing: With advanced image editing tools, you can modify images within your PDF file. This includes resizing, cropping, rotating, and adding effects to images. You can also replace or remove images if necessary.
  4. Annotations and markup: Advanced PDF editors allow you to add annotations and markup to your PDF document. This includes adding comments, highlighting important sections, drawing shapes and arrows, and underlining or strikethrough text.
  5. Form filling and creation: Advanced PDF editors have dedicated features if you need to fill out or create new forms within a PDF document on your Mac. You can easily fill out interactive forms and even create custom forms with fields for others to fill out.
  6. Security features: Protecting sensitive information within a PDF is crucial. With advanced editing tools, you can add password protection to your PDF files or apply digital signatures for authentication.

Collaborating on PDFs

Collaborating on PDFs is made easy on a Mac with the available editing tools and third-party apps. You can share your edited PDF files with colleagues or clients for seamless collaboration.

With features like annotation, commenting, and tracking changes, you can easily communicate your edits and suggestions to others.

The built-in Preview app allows multiple users to add comments and annotations to a shared PDF file, making it convenient for team collaborations.

Popular third-party apps like Nitro PDF Pro also offer robust collaboration features that enable real-time editing and sharing of PDFs among team members.

Whether working on a project or reviewing documents, collaborating on PDFs ensures efficient teamwork while maintaining document integrity.


In conclusion, editing PDFs on a Mac can be easy with built-in tools like Preview and QuickLook and third-party apps such as Nitro PDF Pro. With these resources at your fingertips, you can effortlessly add text, highlight important information, rearrange pages, and even reduce file size.

Following the tips and tricks outlined in this guide, you’ll become an expert in efficiently editing PDFs on your Mac. Say goodbye to frustrations and hello to seamless PDF editing!


1. What software or tools do I need to edit PDFs on a Mac?

To easily edit PDFs on a Mac, you can use Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, the industry standard for PDF editing. Other popular options include Preview (a built-in app on Mac) and third-party applications like PDFelement and Foxit PhantomPDF.

2. Can I directly edit the text within a PDF document on a Mac?

Yes, with the right software, you can directly edit text within a PDF document on a Mac. Tools like Adobe Acrobat Pro DC allow you to effortlessly select and modify text in your PDF files.

3. How do I add annotations or comments to a PDF file using my Mac?

You can easily add annotations or comments to a PDF file on your Mac using various tools available. With Adobe Acrobat Pro DC or Preview app, you can highlight text, underline important points, draw shapes and arrows, add notes in the margin, and even insert sticky notes for collaboration purposes.

4. Can my MacBook convert other file formats into editable PDFs?

Absolutely! Your MacBook enables you to convert various file formats such as Word documents (DOCX), PowerPoint presentations (PPT), Excel spreadsheets (XLS), images (JPEG/PNG), and more into editable PDFs with just a few clicks using software like Adobe Acrobat Pro DC or online converter tools like Smallpdf or SodaPDF.