Thursday, July 25, 2019

How to Edit PDF files

If you regularly send and receive PDF documents, this time-saving guide is for you.

What is PDF and why is it hard to modify?

PDF (Portable Document Format), is a type of digital document that looks like a printed document and can be viewed, printed, and electronically transmitted regardless of what software they use to view the file. Because it's designed to look and behave like a printed document, PDF can't easily be modified. But with right tools, it's doable.

Here are three ways to edit PDF document, on a Mac or Windows computer.

1. Using Adobe Acrobat Software (for both Mac and Windows)

Acrobat is the most popular tool in the market to work with PDF documents. However, not every version of Acrobat allows you to edit existing text once you open your document in the program.

Adobe categorizes its software under Acrobat Standard and Acrobat Pro. There are three editions in both product lines: Acrobat X, Acrobat XI, and Acrobat DC.

According to Adobe, the editions below allow for basic text and content editing, as well as the ability to export your document into Microsoft Word:
  • Acrobat XI Standard
  • Acrobat XI Pro
  • Acrobat Standard DC
  • Acrobat Pro DC
Acrobat Pro DC and Acrobat Standard DC offer a host of other editing capabilities that Acrobat XI does not offer, such as automatic spell-check, advanced photo editing, and editing from an iPad.

Once you install Acrobat, 
  1. Open the software.
  2. Go to File > Open … and select your PDF file.
  3. After your file opens, select "Edit PDF" in the right-hand toolbar.
  4. To edit text, first place your cursor on the text you'd like to edit.
  5. Edit your text using the "Format" options at the top of the right-hand toolbar.
For more information, visit the Official Acrobat's How-To page.

2. Using Acrobat-Alternative Software

PDFelement (for Mac and Windows)

PDFelement is a downloadable program to edit PDF documents, including text, images, pages, links, backgrounds, watermarks, headers and footers. It comes in two flavor, the standard and the Pro versions. The Pro version comes with optical character recognition (OCR) if you need to work with PDF that contains scanned pages. The ability to create complex PDF forms from paper forms or other documents is a huge plus. So is the ability to convert a PDF to Word or Excel format.

PDF Expert (for Mac)

PDF Expert is a downloadable program built for Macs that allows you to open and edit PDF content right from the original PDF. While PDF Expert is easy to use, it's a little less capable compared to Acrobat, and the app is not able to provide optical character recognition (OCR) on scanned documents. Adobe Acrobat Pro or PDFelement will better meet your needs.

3. Using Free Online Tools

The hassle of needing an expensive program like Adobe to edit such a common file type hasn't gone unnoticed, and there are numerous online tools you can now use for free to edit your PDF. Because they are online, they work on all computers - no matter if you use Mac or Windows.


Sejda is an online service that allows for a decent range of document management functions. It covers the standard tasks like merging and splitting documents, converting to a variety of formats, editing, page numbering, and some light security features. The PDF editing function allows you to rotate, compress, crop and extract text from your documents with ease. It also converts PDF to Word and Excel formats as well.


SmallPDF is a simple and comprehensive online PDF tools. Its offer up to 16 type of operations you can choose from, including adding text and image annotation and converting PDF back to Word for full document editing. The free version only allows for 2 tasks per hour and one PDF conversion to other formats per day.

Advanced PDF editors like Acrobat can be expensive and difficult to use. It includes so many features that you need to do a course to learn how to use them effectively. The alternatives share many of the same features, but not the complexity. And it makes editing PDFs simple.

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