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How To Edit A PDF In Illustrator

Most of us regularly handle PDF files for one reason or another. This useful document format is primarily designed for stability, regardless of what device or program you use to open it. This characteristic, along with the fact that it can be password protected, has made it extremely popular for important documents like contracts and reports.


Since one of a PDF’s key features is how stable it is, editing one isn’t always so straightforward. Depending on how you need to change your file, there are different programs, both online and offline, that you can resort to. Some will allow you to make all kinds of changes, including editing the text, while others will offer more limited options, like allowing you to merge two pages or add a text box or sticker.

If you’d like to know how to edit a PDF in a popular program such as Illustrator, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll look into how to edit a PDF, things you should know about editing this file format, and the best options available on the most popular devices.

Step By Step: How To Edit A PDF In Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is one of the most popular programs for working with graphic images. Since it’s mostly used for images, it may not be suitable for making advanced edits on PDFs. However, it has several tools that you may find useful. The good news is that they offer a free trial, so you can test it out before deciding whether it’s the right option for you.

Install the program on your device and follow the steps below:

  1. Open the file in Illustrator by going to File, then Open to browse your files.
  2. Next, select ‘Advanced Tools Palette’ from the toolbar.
  3. Then, you can select the Text or Touch up Object tool.
  4. With Illustrator, you can divide the page into blocks to make it easier to edit. To do this, double-click on the page to make the ‘Edit Page’ pop-up appear.
  5. Now you can go ahead and edit the text or images in each block. Here are some of the things you can do to your PDF on Illustrator:
    1. Delete text.
    2. Add new text.
    3. Change the color of the text.
    4. Change the font.
    5. Edit images.
    6. Add a new image or symbol.
    7. Change the size of an image.
  6. Once you’ve finished working on the file, don’t forget to save it.

What You Need To Know About Editing A PDF In Illustrator

To help you decide whether Illustrator is the best option for you, we’ve put together some key features and limitations we think you should know about. Have a read through the bullet points below to find out everything you need to know about editing a PDF with this popular program.

  • If the file is password protected, you won’t be able to open it in Adobe Illustrator. To work around this, you’ll have to open the file in a PDF reader, insert the password and then disable the password protection.
  • If the text is underlined, chances are you won’t be able to edit it. On the other hand, you’ll still be able to change the font and color.
  • Sometimes you may find that you can’t edit the text even after isolating it in blocks. In this case, you can try going to ‘Properties’, then click on ‘Quick Actions’. By selecting ‘Release Mask’, you should be able to edit the text.
  • Since Illustrator is made for graphic design, it’s a great option if you have images or graphic features you need to edit.
  • While there’s a free trial available, if you want to use Illustrator long-term you will need to sign up for a paid subscription. This makes it a significantly more expensive option compared to other options available, especially free online editing platforms.

Which Programs Allow You To Edit A PDF In Illustrator

As we mentioned, a PDF is designed to remain unchanged, so it’s not always easy to find a way to edit this format. On top of that, different programs offer different tools, so it also depends on the way in which you need to edit the file and which parts specifically (text, images, layout, etc.).

That being said, let’s take a look at some programs available for PCs and smartphones.

Editing A PDF From A PC

Firstly, it’s worth mentioning that using an online platform like FormatPDF to introduce changes to your PDFs is easy, safe, and free! You can access the platform from any device, at any time.

However, if you prefer to install a more complex program on your device, here are some options for Windows, Mac, and Linux.


As an Adobe program, Illustrator is available on most devices and operating systems, including Windows. If this is your preferred program, you can purchase a subscription from the Adobe website and download Illustrator to your Windows computer. If you haven’t used this program before, it’s best you take a tutorial to learn how to use it.


On Mac devices, you can also download and install Illustrator. On the other hand, you can perform some simple editing features such as adding text or annotations directly in Preview. To cover more advanced actions, including editing text, you can subscribe to Illustrator or use an online platform.


As Linux devices work a little differently, you will need to install a special open-source tool such as Qoppa PDF Studio. With this program, you’ll be able to edit existing text and add images, among other things.

Editing A PDF From A Smartphone Or Tablet

Learning how to edit this format from your phone or tablet is a game-changer. We use our phones for everything and anything nowadays, so why not use them to edit our files on the go? There are several apps available for both Apple and Android devices, so you’ll be spoiled for choice. For a quick and easy alternative, edit your file directly online.

iPhone or iPad

While there are some tools available in the default Files app, for more advanced options you’re better off installing a specialized app. PDF Expert is a fairly easy-to-use, comprehensive option that also allows you to edit pre-existing text.


Installing an app is one of the best options for Android users as well, especially if you need to do more than highlight the text or add a signature. PDF Text Editor is a viable option that comes with a fairly wide range of tools.

Jesse works as a freelance translator and copywriter. She has a degree in Media & Culture and is passionate about anything to do with language and writing. With a love for research and learning, she has written about all sorts of topics including Technology, Gastronomy, Travel, Nutrition and more. She currently collaborates with FormatPDF as a copywriter.
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