A Guide on How to Edit PDFs in Every Way You Can Imagine
“How to edit a PDF?” must be one of the most common questions in the history of computers and the interwebs.
In fact, we know for sure that no less than 108,000 people are typing this into Google every month, which is kinda why we wrote this article, to help people out!
So, if you too are wondering how to edit a PDF, you’ve come to the right place, for we are about to tackle this question once and for all.
We have gathered the info, tested the tools, and we’re bringing you the best of the best in the world of PDF editing.
All the options in this article have been tried and tested by us or people we trust – and while definitely not the only solutions, we found them to be the best.
Some of the things you will find out in this article include:
How to Edit a PDF in Adobe Acrobat
Wondering how to edit a PDF in Adobe Acrobat? Wonder no more!
Editing a PDF in Adobe Acrobat is easy. It has a 7-day trial, but after that, you will need to pay for access to Adobe Acrobat DC/ Pro.
To edit a PDF in Adobe Acrobat, simply follow these steps:
- Open Adobe Acrobat.
- Click on File, then choose Open from the drop-down menu.
- Pick the PDF file you need to edit.
- Click on Edit PDF (you will find this on the right-hand side of the screen).
- To edit text, just place your cursor on it and start editing.
- If you want to change the font, size, or orientation of the text, you can use the Format box on the right-hand side of the screen.
- If you want to add an image, you can do so by using the Add Image option from the top of the screen.
- If you want to edit an image, you can do so by right-clicking it and selecting what you want to do (rotate, crop, etc.)
- If you want to edit the layout of the PDF, you can do so by clicking Edit option from the top of the screen and moving the objects around.
How to Edit a PDF Without Adobe Acrobat
While Adobe’s Acrobat is one of the most popular PDF editors, it is not the only one.
In fact, you have plenty of other options – some of which are less expensive and better suited to your preferred operating system.
Here are some quick guides on how to edit PDF files without Adobe Acrobat, based on your operating system of choice.
How to Edit a PDF on Mac
To edit a PDF on your Apple Mac computer, all you have to do is open Preview, Mac OS’s free PDF document viewer and editor.
This tool will allow you to view PDF files and edit them as you please: add comments, sign them, highlight text, or even add text.
How to Edit the Text of a PDF on your Mac
If you want to add text to a PDF file on Mac, all you need to do is:
- Open your PDF file in Preview.
- Place your cursor on the specific location where you want to insert the text.
- Click on Tools, then on Annotate, and then on Text.
- Type out the text you want to add to your PDF file.
- If you want to change the font, size, or color of the text, click on View, then on Show Markup Toolbar, and then press A on your keyboard.
- If you want to move the text box, you can do this by simply dragging and dropping the box anywhere in the document.
How to Highlight the Text of your PDF on Mac
If you want to highlight text in Mac OS’s Preview, you can do so by:
- Opening the PDF file you want to highlight.
- Selecting the text you want to highlight.
- Clicking on the marker button to turn on the highlight mode (). When this mode is turned on, all selected text will be automatically highlighted.
- If you want to remove the highlight, hold control and click the text and select the relevent option from the drop-down menu (highlight, underline, or strike-through).
- If you want to change the color of your highlight, simply click on the arrow on the marker/ highlight mode button and select the color you want to use.
How to Edit a PDF File on Windows
Just like with Mac, Windows will allow you to edit your PDF files for free, and there are two ways to do this.
1. Editing a PDF on Windows Using Microsoft Word (2013 Or Later)
Provided that you have Microsoft Word installed on your computer, editing a PDF file is just as easy on Windows as it is on Mac. This is a feature that has been available since 2013.
We’re not sure what people did before then, maybe used the little erasers on the end of pencils?
Basically, you can just open your PDF document in Word and edit it as a normal Word document:
- Add images to it and format them
- Add text boxes and format them
- Move, edit, and delete text from the file
When you’re done, to save the file as a PDF, simply click on Save As and select PDF from the dropdown menu, as shown below.
2. Editing a PDF on Windows Using Foxit Phantom PDF
If you do not have Microsoft Word on your Windows computer (or if you do not have the right version), you can also use Foxit.
This is a PDF editing tool that is very well-regarded by pretty much everyone. They have a free trial you can use for 14 days. After that, it will cost you $139 for the smallest package.
It’s a one-time price tag, so you can pay and use it for the rest of your life, happily editing PDF pages until the End of Times or your retirement, whichever comes first.
Here’s how to add text to a PDF using Foxit Phantom PDF:
- Open your file in Foxit Phantom.
- Click on Edit from the top-menu and then on Edit Text
- Place the cursor where you need to add your text and simply start typing.
- If you want to change your text’s formatting (font, size, color, alignment, etc.), you can just choose the relevant option from the Edit Text menu.
Here’s how you can highlight text in your PDF files using Foxit Phantom:
- Click on the Comment menu and select the option that works for you:
- Highlight ( drag the cursor over the text you want to emphasize)
- Strikethrough ( select the text you want to strike through and then click on the Strike-through button in the “Comment” menu)
- Leave a note ( highlight the text associated with your note, choose the “Note” option from the Comment menu, and then type out your note in the provided box).
Foxit is not the only PDF editor available for Windows. As you will see in one of our future sections of this article , there are many other options.
How to Edit a PDF on Linux
If you run Linux or Ubuntu, you can very easily edit your PDF files using LibreOffice.
This is an open-source, free alternative to Microsoft Word and it shows the same range of capabilities – including PDF editing.
Here’s how you can edit your PDF if you’re a Linux user:
- Install LibreOffice on your computer.
- Open LibreOffice.
- Open the PDF file you want to edit on Linux.
- Edit as you would normally edit a document (see our brief guide on how to edit a PDF file using Microsoft Word, above).
Best PDF Editors
As mentioned before, there are multiple PDF editors available out there, for pretty much every operating system and preference you might have.
Best PDF Editors for Mac
- Adobe Acrobat DC Pro (which we have already discussed; pricing starts at approximately $18/ month and you get 5 days of free trial)
- Preview (likewise, we have already discussed it, and it is perhaps one of the best free PDF editors for Mac; it’s free and it comes with your Mac)
- PDF Expert (works across all Apple devices and allows you to edit PDF files, comment on them, and even delete pages or split the PDF at specific points; $80 for three Macs)
- PDF Element ( allows you to edit, annotate PDFs, and bookmark specific pages in your PDFs; starts at $69/ year)
Best PDF Editors for Windows
- Adobe Acrobat DC Pro (already discussed; free trial for 5 days, after that pricing starts at $18/ month)
- Microsoft Word (already discussed; one-time price starts at $139, or you can buy Microsoft 365 access for $99/ year and allow up to six people to work on it)
- Microsoft Edge Browser (has limited capabilities like highlighting and notes, but does not include text or image editing; it’s free, like all other web browsers)
- Foxit PhantomPDF (already discussed, one of the best PDF editors for Windows, also available for Mac computers; pricing starts at $139/ year for the cloud-based version)
- PDF Element (already discussed, as there are versions available for both Mac and Windows computers; pricing starts at $69/ year)
- AbleWord (a text editor similar to, but less advanced than Microsoft Word, which can be used for PDF editing as per our guide here; the best thing about it is that it is free)
- Sejda PDF Editor (an advanced PDF editor with different pricing plans available for every need and pocket; has a free in-browser version and pricing starts at $5/ week for the more advanced versions)
- Nuance Power PDF ( allows you to edit, annotate, and encrypt your PDF documents; costs approximately $80)
- PDF Buddy (an online/ browser-based PDF editor with limited capabilities including adding text boxes, making annotations, highlighting, and doodling; free of charge)
- Nitro PDF Reader (a very powerful tool with a lot of features including editing, converting, and creating PDF files; pricing starts at $189/ per user, but they have a 14-day free trial too)
- APowerPDF (a PDF editor that allows you to edit, convert, and merge PDF files, pricing usually starts at $119/ year, but they have frequent discounts you can make use of and drop that to less than $40/ year or $60 for a lifetime license)
- Xodo ( a collaboration-based PDF editor that can be used on both computers and smartphones for free)
- Inkscape (Ha design tool that offers PDF editing capabilities as well; it’s free of charge, but if you want, you can donate something to say “Thank you”)
Best PDF Editors for Linux
- LibreOffice (already discussed, one of the best PDF editors for Linux; best part about is that, you guessed it, it’s free)
- Inkscape (already discussed, as it has versions for Windows, Linux, and Mac, all of which are free)
- Okular (limited capabilities, like drawing, highlighting, and making notes, but it is a free open-source tool, so worth checking out; free of charge)
- Master PDF Editor (perhaps the most popular PDF editor for Linux, with virtually any feature you might need; costs $69)
- PDF Shuffler (which allows you to split and merge PDF files; free of charge)
- GIMP (already touched upon here; still free of charge)
How to Edit a PDF on Your Smartphone
Since smartphones are, well, quite smart these days, it was only a matter of time until you could do a lot of things on them the same as you can on a computer.
Of course, this includes PDF editing capabilities.
Let’s take a look at some of the best PDF editors for smartphones.
Best PDF Editors for Android
- AndrOpen Office (a free Android alternative to Microsoft Office, which includes a word editor that can edit PDFs as well, all for freel)
- Xodo (already discussed; free for personal use)
- Adobe Fill & Sign (used to fill and sign PDF files, the clue is in the name; comes with a free trial)
- Write on PDF (this is one of the most popular free pdf editor apps for android; it allows you to make annotations, highlight, and draw on PDFs, but not edit the text or the images; free to install)
- PDF Element (already discussed; mobile version can be downloaded for free, but only used as such for a limited amount of time)
Best PDF Editors for iOS
- PDF Element (already touched upon here; download for free in iOS version as well)
- iAnnotate (allows you to highlight, strike-through, underline, and draw on your PDF documents; costs $10)
- PDF Expert (already touched upon here); free, and comes with in-app purchases)
- Good Reader (allows you to create and read annotations on PDF files and allows you to open Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Excel, TXT and HTML files too; costs $6)
How to Edit a PDF in Google Drive
A lot of companies use Google Drive for work documents these days, and with good reason as there are a number of advantages:
- The suite includes (free) alternatives to Microsoft Office
- Google Drive makes collaboration super easy
Just like Microsoft Office has MS Word, Google Drive has its own version of a word processor – Google Docs, and the good news is that it includes the option to edit PDF files
To edit a PDF document in Google Drive, follow these steps:
- Go to your desired Google Drive folder
- Click on File Upload, then on Upload. Alternatively, you can also drag and drop the PDF file into your Google Drive.
- Once uploaded, click on the PDF file and select Open With and then Google Docs from the drop-down menu that appears on screen.
- Edit your PDF file as you need, just as you would with any word document.
- To save the file as a PDF when you are done, click on File, then on Download As, and then on “PDF Document (.pdf)”.
How to Edit a PDF in Adobe Photoshop
As a general rule, Adobe Photoshop is not necessarily meant for PDF editing.
However, there might be instances where you need to edit the images on a PDF file, and often the easiest way to do it is by using Adobe Photoshop.
To edit PDF in Photoshop using Adobe Photoshop, simply:
- Open your file in Photoshop.
- Select Touchup Object Tool, and then right-click on the photo you want to edit.
- Select Edit Image and then click OK on the pop-up message that appears.
This will open your image in Photoshop and allow you to edit it as you normally would.
Note, it is always best to request the original image to be edited, rather than pull it out of a PDF.
How to Compress PDF File Size
Compressing PDF file size might come in handy when you want to transfer a PDF over the internet (and not grow old waiting for the process to be done). Normally, services like WeTransfer (and other file transfer tools) will naturally compress your files (even Facebook Messenger).
Even so, there might still be times when you need to compress the size of your PDF file on your own.
How can you compress a PDF file? Below, you’ll find instructions for each operating system:
How to Compress a PDF File on Mac
If you’re wondering how to compress a PDF file on Mac, here are the steps you need to take:
- Open your PDF file in Preview
- Click on File, then on Export…
- Click Show Details.
- A pop-up will appear on screen. Go to Quartz Filter and select Reduce File Size from the drop-down menu.
- Click on Save.
Another way to compress a PDF file on Mac is by using Adobe Acrobat:
- Open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat.
- Click on File, then on Save as Other.
- Click on Reduce Size PDF
- Depending on how small you want the file to be, you can select your compatibility to a more recent version of Adobe Acrobat. You can also leave it as Retain Existing if that is OK with you.
- Once you have made your selection, click on OK.
- Rename your PDF document so you can easily find the smaller version. This way, you can keep both the original file and the compressed one ( you will not have to overwrite the original file).
- Click Save.
- If you have not renamed your compressed file, you will get a pop-up asking you if you want to overwrite the original document. Click Replace if that is the case and you want to overwrite the existing file.
How to Compress a PDF File on Windows
If you want to know how to compress a PDF file on Windows, you can check out the quick tutorial above (for Adobbe Acrobat on Mac, above and follow the same instructions.
Alternatively, you can also compress a PDF file on Windows by using an online service such as SmallPDF, for example. All you have to do is upload your PDF file into this tool and follow the steps on screen. Do keep in mind that, although encrypted, these websites might not be entirely secure – as such, you might want to use a more popularized solution (like Adobe Acrobat, for example).
How to Compress a PDF File on Linux
Linux is famous for being a bit more complicated than your average OS, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t compress a PDF file on it.
How to compress a PDF file on Linux?
You have multiple options. Here are two examples:
How to Compress a PDF File on Linux Using the OS
To compress a PDF file on Linux using the operating system, follow these steps:
- If you haven’t installed the Ghostscript command yet, do it by using the following command: sudo apt install ghostscript
- Once you have installed Ghostscript, run the following command, making sure to replace the correct file path, as well as the dPDFSETTINGS parameter according to these features:
- /prepress (default) – this will give you a higher quality output PDF file (300 dpi), but it will be bigger in size
- /medium – this will give you a medium quality output file (150 dpi) and a medium file size
- /screen – this will give you the lowest quality output file (72 dpi) and the smallest file size
The command line to run in Ghostscript is this:
gs -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dCompatibilityLevel=1.4 -dPDFSETTINGS=/prepress -dNOPAUSE -dQUIET -dBATCH -sOutputFile=compressed_PDF_file.pdf input_PDF_file.pdf
How to Compress a PDF File on Linux Using a Third-Party Tool
If running commands like this on Linux feels a bit scary, you also have the option to install a tool that will access Ghostscript for you. Like here for example.
How to Compress a PDF File on Android
To compress a PDF file on Android, you can use apps that are specifically created for this. Two popular examples are
- Light PDF
- PDF Compressor
With these tools, all you have to do is upload your PDF file into the app and compress it using the steps on screen.
How to Remove Pages from a PDF Document
Deleting pages from a PDF should be easy right? Well it is, if you follow these steps. . There are multiple ways to do it, actually.
How to Remove Pages from a PDF File Using Acrobat
Using Adobe Acrobat is one of the most common ways to remove pages from a PDF document. To do this, follow these steps:
- Open your PDF Document in Acrobat
- Go to the right-hand side of the screen and click on Organize Pages. If the toolbar menu is not on the right-hand side of the screen, go to the bottom of the screen and click on Hide Right-Hand Panel
- Once you have located Organize Pages, you can take two routes in removing pages from a PDF file:
- Hover your pointer over every page you want to delete and click on the recycle bin button
- Click on Select Pages, then select the pages you want to delete from the drop-down menu, and then click on Delete.
How to Remove Pages from a PDF File Using Third-Party Tools
If you only need to remove pages from a PDF every now and then, you might want to use one of the other tools available.
SmallPDF is a good example. To use it, follow these steps:
- Go to SmallPDF’s site and click on Delete PDF Pages
- Drag your PDF file into the designated area to upload it.
- You will be prompted with a window showing all the pages in your PDF. Select the ones you want to delete, and click on the little recycle bin button that will pop in the upper right corner of each page.
If you are looking for more methods on how to remove pages from a PDF file, we have an extensive article on this as well.
How to Combine Multiple PDF Files into One Single PDF File
Always wanted to know how to combine multiple PDF files into one? Just started wondering a few minutes ago? Well, just as with deleting them, there are multiple options. We will show you how to use two that are more popular: Small PDF (online tool) and Merge PDF Chrome Extension (a Chrome extension, as the name suggests). There are other options as well, but they mostly work the same way.
How to Combine Multiple PDF Files into One Single PDF File Using SmallPDF
To merge multiple PDF Files into a single one using SmallPDF, you should:
- Go to SmallPDF’s website.
- Select Merge PDF
- Select the files you want to merge or drop them into the designated area.
- Let the tool do its job. Maybe make yourself a coffee?
- Save the new PDF File.
How to Merge Multiple PDF Files into One Single PDF Using a Chrome Extension
To combine multiple PDF files into one single PDF using a Chrome extension, you need to:
- Install the Google Chrome browser (if you don’t have it already)
- Go to this link
- Click on Add Extension and then Confirm on the pop-up.
- In your Chrome bar (right next to the address bar, select the PDF: Merge & Download & View Option.
- Select the files you want to merge.
- Click on Merge.
Do keep in mind that, if you want to merge more than two PDF files, you might be required to make an account on Zonepdf.
Want to learn more about combining multiple PDF files? This extensive article on how to merge PDF files will surely help you out!
How to Split a PDF Document into Multiple Pieces
If you want to know how to split a PDF document into multiple pieces, know that you have multiple options to do it.
How to Split a PDF Document into Multiple Pieces Using Adobe Acrobat
To split a PDF document into multiple ones using Adobe DC, follow these steps:
- Open Adobe Acrobat.
- Open your file in Adobe Acrobat.
- Once the files have been opened in Adobe Acrobat, click on Organize PDF in the right-hand toolbar and then on the Split scissors button.
- This will trigger a new toolbar under the Organize option, which will allow you to split your document by:
- Number of pages
- File size
- Top-level bookmarks
- Just enter your desired parameters depending on which option you select.
- The files will be automatically saved in the same folder as the original file and they will be numbered for clear distinction (so “Test” will become “Test_Part1”, “Test_Part2”, and so on).
How to Split a PDF Document into Multiple Pieces Using Online Tools
Just as with page removal and merging, you can also use online tools to split a PDF document into multiple pieces. For example, you can use SmallPDF (just select “Split PDF” from the home screen).
Another option is using other tools, such as PDF.io, for instance. To split a PDF document into multiple pieces using this tool, you should:
- Go to PDF.io.
- Select Split from the home screen.
- Upload your PDF file.
- Manually select the pages you want to split (use your cursor to do this)
- Click on Split in the lower right hand corner of the screen.
Most of the online tools that work with PDFs work on the same principle and they are quite intuitive, so you will definitely find it very easy to use them!
How to Split a PDF Document into Multiple Pieces Using a Chrome Extension
If you split PDF documents more often, you might also want to install a Chrome extension to help you with this.
To do it, follow these steps:
- Go to this link.
- Click on Add to Chrome (and then confirm you want to add this extension in the pop up that will appear on screen too).
- When you want to split a PDF file, click on the extension in your browser bar.
- Drag or upload your PDF file into the designated area.
- Select Range from the drop-down menu that appears on screen. If you want to split each page separately, you can leave the drop-down menu on the All Pages option (the default one).
- Add the page numbers of the pages you want to split from the main document.
- Click on Split in the lower-right hand corner of the screen.
And if you’re looking for more ways to split a PDF file, don’t hesitate to check out our extensive piece on this as well.
How to Edit a Scanned Document in PDF
If you want to edit a scanned PDF document, you should proceed just as you would with any other type of PDF document. The first two sections of this article describe how to edit a scanned (or not created) document in PDF using Adobe Acrobat or other tools.
How to Edit a Signature in PDF
Many people want to edit signatures in PDF, and if you are among them you should be happy to learn that, yes, you can do it. Also, you probably need to sign something important, another reason to be happy.
Before we dive into this topic, however, it is important to mention there is a major difference between an electronic signature and a digital signature. More specifically:
- An electronic signature is an on-screen (electronic) version of your real-life signature.
- A digital signature is a cryptographic version of your signature. Basically, what it does is verify that someone who has your private signing key (an especially assigned number) has seen and authorized a document. In this case, a third-party entity called a Certificate Authority has verified your identity (just like a notary public would do in real life). For this reason, a digital signature is the most secure type of online signature you can ask for and offer for very important documents.
For the purpose of our guide, we will discuss electronic signatures. If you are looking for ways to add a digital signature to a PDF, you can use tools that are specialized in this (some of which will be listed later on in this article).
How to Insert a Scanned Electronic Signature in Adobe Acrobat
Adobe’s signature software is available for both Mac OS and Windows, but keep in mind that it is not free.
Adobe Acrobat allows you to add a scanned signature to your PDF documents. To do this, follow these steps:
- Open your file in Adobe Acrobat.
- Click on the Fill & Sign button in the right hand toolbar.
- Click on Sign, and then on Add Signature. This will trigger a pop up with three options:
- Type – involves actually typing your name in cursive (and Adobe will allow you to change the signature style too)
- Draw – involves drawing the signature using your mouse or trackpad
- Image – allows you to import an image containing your signature
- Once you have made your selection, you can drag the signature, resize it, and position it in the PDF document.
Remember to save the signed document (preferably, under a different name, to easily make the distinction between this document and the original).
How to Insert a Scanned Electronic Signature in Foxit
If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat, you can use other similar software to add a signature to your PDF files. Foxit will allow you to do this, for example.
To add a signature using Foxit, follow these steps:
- Open your desired PDf file in Foxit.
- Click on PDF Sign (you will find this in the toolbar at the top).
- Click the green + sign. A popup with the following options will be triggered:
- Draw Signature – allows you to use your mouse or trackpad to draw the signature
- Import File – allows you to import an external file (such as an image containing your signature)
- Paste from Clipboard – allows you to use an image you have in your clipboard
- Type Signature – allows you to type out your signature (in cursive)
- Online Signature – allows you to use signatures you have already saved in your Foxit account
- Click Save.
- Drag, resize, and reposition your signature as you see fit.
Don’t forget to save your signed document too!
How to Insert a Scanned Electronic Signature in Mac OS’s Preview
If you own a Mac computer and want to use Preview to add an electronic signature, the default PDF editor to sign documents, you should follow these steps:
- Open your document in Preview.
- Select the signature button from the toolbar.
- If you have already added a signature to your Preview, all you will need to do now is pull it from the tool.
If you have not already done so, you can click on “Create Signature” and choose any of the options:
- If you have a trackpad, you can use your finger to sign your name. When done, simply press any key on the keyboard.
- If you have a built-in camera, you can sign your name on a white sheet of paper and hold it up to the camera. Keep in mind that you will have to use black ink for this to work.
- Once the signature is added, click “Done”.
- Move and resize the signature as you see fit.
As always, don’t forget to save the new document too!
How to Use PDF Documents under GDPR
GDPR (The General Data Protection Regulation) is a set of laws valid throughout the entire European Union, which deals with the protection of consumers’ and users’ data in a variety of contexts.
If you are based in the EU or have users who might be based in the EU (and are submitting any kind of personal information to you), then you absolutely have to abide by the GDPR rules.
The basic rule behind GDPR is that you always need to ask your users’ consent for you to collect, store, and work with the information they share with you. They should not be obliged to give you their personal information, and they have the right to ask you to delete or modify said data at any time.
For instance, if you collect information from your users via a fillable PDF, you will have to ask for their explicit consent in doing this. You will also have to give them the option to delete their data whenever they want. For more information on the GDPR regulations, visit the official site here.
How does this affect signatures?
According to GDPR, an electronic signature is just as valid (and important!) as a manual, “real-life” signature.
PDF Implications for HIPAA
Just like GDPR, HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is a set of regulations meant to protect patients’ personal information. The HIPAA regulations are valid throughout the United States of America, at a Federal level. More on this legislation can be found on the official website.
There are no specific rules or regulations in the HIPAA act to standardize online and e-signatures. As such, any kind of electronic signature is considered to be as legally binding as a traditional, offline signature.
Best PDF Signing Tools
As mentioned before, there are a lot of tools specialized in signing PDF documents.
For electronic signatures, you can use any of the following:
For digital signatures, these are some of the best free PDF signing tools:
- DocuSign – perhaps the most well-known digital signature tool on the market (includes a 30-day trial that can come in handy when you’re testing out different products; free trial for 30 days, after that, pricing starts at $10/ month for a personal account and goes up to $40 for a business plan)
- Citrix Rightsignature – a very good alternative to DocuSign (it will allow you to sign up to five documents for free, and it is available for Microsoft, iOS, Android, and via web browsers; after the trial is out, pricing will start at $12/ month)
- Adobe Sign – part of Adobe Document Cloud, great because it is integrated with other Adobe products so it works well right out of the box (plus, they will offer you a 14-day free trial for up to 9 users; after that, pricing will start at $25)
- EasySign – a very user-friendly digital signature tool that guides users every step of the way (unfortunately, though, they do not provide a free version and pricing starts at $90/ year)
- PandaDoc – although pricier for a solo user, this tool might be better for small to medium businesses where a lot of the team members need PDF signing capabilities (they have a free, limited version, and they also offer a 14-day trial on the more advanced plans; once the trial is over, pricing will start at $19)
Problems with Editing PDF Documents
PDFs have been around since forever (no, seriously, does anyone remember a time without PDFs?). Like most things that survive the internet for more than a decade, PDFs have been around for so long for a very good reason: they work.
In fact, there are quite a lot of things to love about PDFs:
- It is a very popular format and it can be opened on every type of imaginable device and operating system (even if you don’t have a specific PDF reader installed, for example, a lot of web browsers will open PDFs just fine)
- Adobe Acrobat is free of use if you want a specific PDF reader
- Everyone will see a PDF the same way, no matter what operating system or device they use
- Not everyone can edit your PDF (well, they can, if they have been reading through this guide)
- PDFs are not generally large in size (or at least not larger than the combined sum of the files included in them, such as photos, for example)
- The person who created the PDF can add security settings to them (such as not allow them to be printed, or even add a password to them)
OK, then, so what are the main Adobe PDF problems?
- Creating a PDF can be extremely difficult when you have a lot of information to deal with. On the one hand, you have to pull all this information and organize it in a way that is easy to read and understand by anyone who receives the PDF document. On the other hand, PDFs can become large in size when they are clogged with a lot of information (specifically tables, charts, and photos)
- Whenever you include a picture in a PDF, you have to make sure it’s high quality. Otherwise, it will look like the 80s called and they want their image resolutions back (i.e. they will look fuzzy).
- Editing PDFs is frequently not free, nor extremely easy, depending on what exactly you need to edit (unless you read all this guide, then it’s like super easy). This can be annoying for those who have to fill in PDFs, it can be time-consuming, and it can be costly (especially if they need to get a professional tool for this)
Why do we continue to use PDFs, then?
Well, their universality and their level of security is golden. So, for every disadvantage of PDFs, there’s an advantage strong enough to counteract it:
- It’s rather difficult to find photos of quality low enough to look bad in PDFs these days
- Most word processors such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs allow you to edit PDFs, but there might still be instances where you need a professional tool for this.
- You can easily organize information in PDF using online forms that automatically generate PDF files (more on this, though, in the “How to Create a Fillable Form” section).
How to Create a Fillable Form
Creating a PDF fillable form is one of the easiest ways to make sure the people who will receive the PDF can actually fill it in without too much hassle.
It might not necessarily be the best choice, though – and following, you will see why.
How to Create a Fillable Form in Adobe Acrobat
- Open Adobe Acrobat.
- Click on the “Tools” tab, and then click on “Prepare Form”.
- Select a file or upload a scanned document. Once you bring the file into Adobe Acrobat, it will automatically analyze it and create the necessary form fields.
- If you need to adjust the layout or add new fields, you can use the toolbar at the top of the screen.
- Save your new fillable PDF.
Problems with Fillable PDF Forms
For all intents and purposes, fillable PDF forms work. You create them, you share them, people fill them in, and that’s about it.
IF your purpose is to collect information from people, however, PDF fillable forms might not be the best choice because you will still have to manually enter the collected data in some sort of system. It could be your email marketing platform, your customer database, your employee satisfaction survey records, etc. Whatever it is, fillable PDF forms involve a good degree of manual work.
In fact, in this respect, they are no better than paper forms. They might travel from one person to another digitally (which lowers the time needed, as well as the impact you have on the environment). But they do not necessarily help you seamlessly connect data where you need it, when you need it.
Web forms, on the other hand, do just that. They are easy to make, they collect the data, and they centralize it in one place, from which you can easily transfer it to whatever software or web apps you might use.
How to Create a Fillable Form Online
If your main goal is to create a form and collect information from users, you can always opt for an online form builder – like, wink-wink, 123 Form Builder. As you will see next, 123 Form Builder is extremely easy to use and it will allow you to create complex forms (including conditional logic rules, electronic signatures, and so on).
Below are some of the things you can do with a good form builder:
How to Convert a fillable PDF Form to an Online Form
If you have a fillable PDF form Iyou want to turn into an online form (or even a simple scanned PDF), you can do this really easy in 123 Form Builder. More specifically:
- Go to your 123 Form Builder Dashboard.
- Click on New Form.
- Click on Scanned Form.
- Click on Import and choose the PDF form you want to turn into an online form.
- 123 Form Builder will automatically create an online form based on your PDF.
- If you want to edit your form, you can always do it using our form editor (just select it from My Forms and click on Edit Form. This will bring you to our editor, which will, in turn, allow you to add and remove fields (single-choice, multiple-choice, name, address, etc.), as well as add and remove conditional logic (e.g. to display a certain field only when certain conditions are met), and add notifications to your form (e.g. send the completed form to the user or back to you, as a PDF).
How to Create a Fillable Form from a Word Document
If you want to create a fillable form from a Word Document, all you need to do is open your Word Document, save it as a PDF, and then import and edit it in(to) 123 Form Builder using the steps above.
Form Examples You Can Easily Build Online
Not to brag about this, but 123 Form Builder has more than 1,900 form templates you can just grab and use. You can also edit them to suit your needs. And, if none of these templates suit your needs, you can also create a form from scratch.
Job Application Forms
Allowing candidates to easily apply to your job is one of the best ways to make sure you attract top talent. Here’s an example of how to use our job application form template:
Being HIPAA-compliant is not just an option. It’s a must – and our HIPAA medical record forms are 100% compliant to the legislation in this field. Here’s an example of how to use them:
You can create invoice forms in three steps (literally, just watch the video below), and then send them as PDF attachments to those who fill them out. Cool, right?
Collecting all those RSVPs for your next event can be a headache, but a form can make things easier. Here’s how you can use our Event RSVP template, for example:
How to Insert an Electronic Signature into an Online PDF Form
If you are looking to collect data and signatures from your users, you can always create an online form that does this (and send the completed form as a PDF attachment to those who have filled it out).
With 123 Form Builder, you can easily create such forms:
- Go to your 123 Form Builder Dashboard.
- Click on New Form.
- Click on Blank Form
- Add your desired fields (Name, Email, Address, Phone Number, Multiple-Choice questions, and so on).
- Add a Signature field. This will allow users to draw a signature right on the form.
- Click on Notifications.
- Click on New Email.
- In the Send to field, select Email using the + sign
- Edit the message you want the user to receive together with their signed PDF file. Remember you can always use the + sign at the top right corner of each section to add variables (like Name, Surname, and so on).
- Click on Add Attachment
- Select Submission PDF or Submission PDF using form layout from the drop-down. The first option will send a basic PDF with all the information in the form, whereas the second option will send a PDF file that mimics the layout of the actual form. For the purpose of this example, we picked the first option.
- Once you click on Submission PDF, a new window will be prompted. This is where you can edit the name of the PDF, as well as choose a template body and customize it.
It took us under two minutes to do all this:
How to Share Your PDF
The question of how to share a PDF is easy to answer, especially with today’s internet speed and the tools you have at your fingertips.
However, this might not always be the case (or at least it might not always be obvious). Below we have gathered the essential information you need to know about sharing PDFs across some of the most popular channels.
How to Share your PDF on Zoom
If you want to share a PDF file on Zoom during a meeting, follow these tips:
- Click on the Chat bubble button.
- Click on More
- Click on Share file in a meeting
- Once the file is sent, the meeting participants will be able to download it.
To be able to do this, you might need to first enable file transfers during meetings, as described here.
How to Share your PDF on Google Classroom
Teachers can attach documents during Google Classroom meetings by following these steps:
- Create an assignment in Google Classroom:
- Go to this link
- Sign in with your Google account.
- Select the Class.
- Click on Classwork.
- Click on Create Assignment (at the top of the screen)
- Attach the files from your Google Drive account
- Create an assignment in Google Classroom:
How to Share your PDF on Whatsapp
Sharing a PDF file on Whatsapp is extremely easy:
- Go to the conversation.
- Click on the paper clip icon (right next to the text box where you type your message)
- Select the PDF file you want to share
- Click on the > green arrow to share it with your desired conversation partner(s).
How to Share your PDF on Facebook
There are three main ways to share a PDF file on Facebook:
- In Facebook Messenger
- In Facebook Groups
- As a link
To share your PDF file in Facebook Messenger, click on the paper clip icon in your messenger box and attach the desired file.
To share your PDF file in Facebook Groups, you will need admin access to the group. Once that is done, click on More (right at the top of the group page) and attach your desired PDF file.
How to Share a PDF as a Link
To share your PDF as a link, you will first have to upload it to some sort of cloud storage service that allows you to pull the link (such as Dropbox or Google Drive, for example). Once you have the link, you can post it on Facebook, Twitter, Messenger, Whatsapp, even MySpace.
How to Share your PDF on Scribd
To upload a PDF on Scribd, you will first have to be logged in. Once you are, click on Upload a Document. Select your desired PDF document(s) or simply drag and drop them into the designated area.
How to Share your PDF on Google Slides
If you want to share a PDF version of your Google Slides presentation, all you have to do is:
- Open your presentation in Google Slides
- Click on File
- Click on Download as… and select PDF from the options.
This will download your slideshow as a PDF file you can share however you want (via email, in instant messaging tools, etc.)
How to Share an Online Form
Sharing an online form is the easiest thing in the world – and no, we’re not saying this just because online forms is what we do.
You have multiple options here. Once your form is done you can:
- Click Publish and then Copy Code. You can just share this with whomever you need to.
- By embedding the code into your website
- Via one of our tens of integrations with other tools, like Mailchimp and Salesforce, for example.
How to Lock a PDF by adding a password
To add a password to your PDF file using Adobe Acrobat, follow these steps:
- Open the file in Adobe Acrobat.
- Click on Protect, then on Protect Using Password.
- Select if you want the password to be applied for editing purposes or for viewing purposes.
- Enter your desired password.
- Click on Apply.
How to Remove the Password from Your PDF
There might be situations where you have to remove the password from PDF files. This is also called “PDF unlocking” and it can be done in many ways.
The cleanest and most straightforward way is by using Adobe Acrobat:
- Open the file.
- Click on Advanced Options, then on Remove Security.
- You will be given two options here
- Document Open password (on the end of the user). If this is the kind of file you are looking at, you can simply click on OK to remove the password.
- Permission password (on the end of the PDF creator/ admin/ owner). If this is the kind of file you are looking at, you will have to enter the password, and then click OK twice (the second time to confirm the action).
In addition to this, there is also a little trick you can use to remove passwords from PDF files. Namely, you can open the PDF (by entering the password, as per the encryption), and hit CTRL+P or the Print button to save the file without the encryption. Hehe, sneaky little hobbits.
Last, but definitely not least, there are a number of other tools you can use to unlock a PDF file.
Best PDF Password Remover Tools
There are a lot of PDF password remover tools out there, but here are some of the best online PDF password remover tools:
- SmallPDF – we have discussed it throughout the article (here, for example ), and one of the capabilities it shows is removing passwords from PDF files
- PDFCrack – a Linux tool similar to SmallPDF and similar to the “Printing” trick described above (it will allow you to save a PDF file in a password-free version)
- Guaranteed PDF Decrypter – similar to the above, this tool will allow you to save a password-free version of your PDF file.
- I Love PDF – likewise, this tool will allow you to edit PDF files, including by saving a password-free version.
Do keep in mind that you will have to know the passwords of the files you are unlocking. These are not methods meant to “help” you hack into documents that are not for your eyes.
The world of PDF editing can be baffling and confusing, to say the least. Hopefully, though, our pilgrimage through all these tools, features, and options has offered you value and helped you gain a better understanding of not only how to edit your PDF files, but also collect data the cleanest and easiest way.
Should you have any kind of questions, please do not hesitate to drop them in the comments section! We’re here to answer them! And remember, if you’re sick and tired of editing PDFs you can always…