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How To Edit A PDF In Preview

How To Edit A PDF In Preview

Preview is the default PDF editor program for Mac users. Double-click on a PDF and it will usually open in Preview. Preview supports a number of different file types including JPEG, PNG, PSD, TIFF and, most importantly for us, PDF. It’s available with the MacOS operating system and across the Apple ecosystem.

Perhaps you’re looking for a fast, simple method to alter your document. Perhaps you’d rather complete your editing tasks without using complicated software. Whether you’re looking to add notes or annotations, or change an image, you can do it all using Preview.

With Preview, you can both view and edit PDFs, which is good news if you’re looking for a way to make modifications to your files. This article will explain in an easy-to-follow method how you can alter your PDFs in Preview. By following a few steps you’ll be editing your file in no time!

How To Edit A PDF With Preview Step-By-Step

Whether you’re looking to add notes, arrows or shapes to your document, or make changes to an image, you can adjust your file without installing any additional software or apps.

If you’re ready to get started, simply follow our step-by-step process below:

  1. Open the file you’d like to edit with Preview (located via the docking station or searching in Finder). By default, double-clicking on a PDF should open it in Preview. If this doesn’t work, you can right-click on a file and then navigate to Open With > Preview.
  2. You’ll see a Toolbar at the top of the window of the application. To begin making changes, click on the “Edit” button in the Toolbar. Doing so will enable the editing functions.
  3. Choose your editing tool according to what editing task you want to perform:
    1. Use the "Selection" tool to grab an image, add lines, shapes and text. You can also adjust the size and colors of the document.
    2. You can also add a signature or fill in forms. To fill in forms, double-click the specific form field, and then enter the required data.
    3. To add text and therefore create a text box, use the "T" button to move to the desired location on your file. Select the "A" button to allow the font options.
    4. If you’d like to rotate images on your document, you can do so by clicking "Rotate right or left" under the "Tools" menu.
  4. Once satisfied with your changes, don’t forget to save. Navigate to File > Save, File > Export File > Export to PDF.
    1. When saved automatically, your document will save with the editable annotations.
    2. To flatten the annotations (so that they can’t be edited) and save, select File > Print, then select “Save as PDF”.

How To Edit PDF In Preview 2

What Do You Need To Know About Editing A PDF With Preview

You may want to consider the following points before you get started with editing your file. Read on for a few tips to bear in mind:

  • You can’t edit the text of a PDF in Preview, though you can perform a number of editing functions using the markup tools. Use the markup tools to provide feedback or make notes and annotations. You can use the tools to fill out forms, annotate with highlighters and shapes, add a signature, combine multiple PDFs into one, and crop or rotate your document, among many other tasks.
  • The markup tools in the Toolbar are particularly useful for collaborating. Use the tools to add notes, suggest changes or respond to changes.
  • You can use the drag-and-drop function to rearrange the pages in your document. Simply head to the thumbnails bar to reorder and make changes to the order. You can add pages to the document by dragging a separate PDF into the thumbnail bar. You can also delete pages by selecting the page and hitting the delete button.
  • It’s useful to save a duplicate copy of your PDF before making changes to your document. All changes will be permanent, so it’s a good idea to have a second copy that you can revert to.
  • With Preview you can complete a spell check of your document, ensuring that the grammar and spelling are correct before sharing or sending the file.
  • In the “Manage PDFs” section, you can convert your document to a different file format if you wish. Additionally, you can lock and password-protect confidential PDFs and compress large files into smaller versions, which may come in useful when sharing the document.
  • When it comes to printing your document with Preview, you can print a special page, rotate before printing and print comments.

Alternatives To MacOS Preview To Edit A PDF

Although Preview provides a comprehensive and useful way to edit your PDF files, you may find that the program is incompatible with the device you’re using. It’s useful, therefore, to be aware of the additional options that you can use should this scenario occur.

Options To Edit A PDF On Your PC

Here we provide options for editing your file on a PC, including when using different operating systems such as Mac, Windows and Linux.


Microsoft Edge supports PDF viewing and editing, though it doesn’t enable comprehensive editing functions such as altering text. However, there’s an easy workaround to this problem. Simply open the PDF in Microsoft Word where you can make all the changes you require. When you’re finished, click “Save As”, and “Save as PDF”.


If you’re unable to use Preview to edit your files, there are other alternatives available. You can download Wondershare PDFelement for Mac to perform in-depth editing functions. Here, you can perform advanced editing tasks such as adding watermarks, comments, signatures and images in just a few clicks.


For Linux users, the PDF editor program GIMP provides an ideal way to edit files. You can perform a variety of editing tasks via the built-in Toolbar, though you can only edit documents one page at a time. Once finished, you can save your document in the GIMP format and revert to PDF after you have exited the program.

Options To Edit A PDF On Your Smartphone

Below you'll find some ways to alter PDFs on a smartphone, whether you use an Android device or an iPhone.


The iPhone comes with native tools which enable PDF editing. You can use the Files app to make changes to your document such as “rotate pages”, “insert documents”, “add or delete pages” and “add signatures or notes”.


Users of Android devices can download the Adobe Acrobat Reader: Edit PDF app from the Google Play Store. Once downloaded, launch the app and sign into your Adobe account. Next, open the PDF file you wish to edit and tap the blue pencil at the bottom of the screen to open the editing functions. You can comment, sign, and fill out forms for free. However, some functions such as editing text and organizing pages are paid features.

Becky is a freelance tech writer with over 8 years' experience writing for print and online. She is often found heavily caffeinated and accompanied by a laptop occupying local coffee shops, bars, co-working spaces and, frankly, anywhere she can get a strong cup of coffee. She enjoys collaborating on different projects ranging from tech to travel and everything in between!
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