How to Edit A PDF on Mac without Adobe?

Bianca Huang
April 10, 2024 Preview 28.6K Preview 6
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Get started on editing PDF files on your Mac. Learn the basics of how one can use free offline software, online sites and preview to edit and update a PDF file.

PDF is one of the most widely used file formats. Most often, you will have the need to edit a PDF file, you need to update text or images in a PDF file, or you need to filling the PDF forms, combine the PDF file, make annotations to it, etc. 

Many people have the thought that to edit a PDF file on Mac we need to buy expensive PDF editors like Adobe Acrobat to edit a PDF, but this is not true. 

In fact, we can annotate or add text to PDF files even with Mac’s build in Preview, and if you need something powerful than Preview - software that also support editing existing text or images directly, or you need solution that just can turn a PDF to an editable file, we have all the solutions you need. 


How to View, Edit and Annotate a PDF files on Mac - Support Editing Existing Text

If you don’t want Adobe Acrobat, and need an free offline PDF Editor that supports editing existing text in PDF file. Cisdem PDFMaster is what you need to have a try.

Who It's For

For both beginners and advanced PDF users, they won’t have any issue using Cisdem PDFMaster. It is designed to be simple and user-friendly, users can find and use the one-click editing tools by navigating through each module on the main interface. 

Why We Picked It

Cisdem PDFMaster comes with a full set of tools that can help you edit a PDF file. It have a PDF editor that can update existing text in PDF files. What impress us most is that it offer all functions for free in 7 days. You can use this tool to do basic and advanced PDF editing like: Update and edit text directly in a PDF file.

  • Combine multiple PDF files into one
  • Convert PDF files to editable format
  • Create PDF files from document and images
  • Turn scanned PDF files to editable one with OCR
  • Make annotations like highlight, cross-out, add rectangle, text box, comments, etc. 
  • Split or merge PDF files
  • Compress PDF files for email sending
  • Blackout or white out text in PDF file
  • Add password to PDF file.

Bottom Line

If you want to edit a PDF on Mac at an advanced level, such as, edit the original text in PDF, write on PDF files, add digital signature, redact or make PDF text searchable, you can use Cisdem PDFMaster, it makes PDF editing much easier and cheaper than any other programs. It has 7-day free trial of the premium features, helping you create, view and edit PDFs on Mac like a pro.

How to Edit A PDF on Mac Easily and Professionally?

Here we will give you several tutorials to edit a PDF on Mac with PDFMaster. Also, you can refer to its user guide and edit your PDFs to its full potential.

Edit and Updating Text or Images in PDF on Mac

  1. Free download and run PDFMaster on your Mac.
    Free Download macOS 10.11 or later Free Download Windows 11/10/8/7
  2. Choose a PDF from your PC by clicking "Open File".
  3. Choose the Edit PDF tool on the toolbar. 
  4. Your PDF will be editable after seconds. What you need to do is click anywhere to edit the texts or images in the PDF. If you want to change the font size, text color, etc. you can right click to ajust it. 
  5. After you finished editing the PDF texts, click the Save button.
  6. If you need to delete or change images in PDF file, you just need to click on the image to delete it or right click on the image to do editing like rotate, export, cut, copy, etc.   
  7. If you need to add images to PDF file, just click Add Image, navigate and upload an image to insert it to the PDF file.

Edit PDF Pages on Mac

  1. Open PDF in Cisdem PDFMaster. Choose Page Edit, select the pages that you want to rotate, extract, insert, split or replace.   
  2. Save the file.

Edit and filling PDF Forms on Mac

  1. Click Form, select a field type and add to your PDF. You can edit to make your PDF interactive by adding element like Text Filed, Check Box, Radio Button, List Box, Signature Filed, etc.  

Annotate PDF on Mac

  1. Go to Tools.
  2. Click the page to add a note, you can easily add annotations like highlight, underline, cross out, comment, rectangle, etc. 

Sign on PDF files

  1. Go to Digital Sign.
  2. Sign the PDF with a digital id.   

Redact PDF Sensitive Information

If you need to black out some sensitive information on your PDF files you can use redact function. 

  1. Go to Redact
  2. Use mouse to highlight sensitive informations like name, telephone, address, etc. then click "Apply".

PDFMaster is easy to use and has an intuitive interface, just choose the module and all the tools will be ready for you to use with ease.

Do more with PDFMaster


How to Annotate and Add Text to PDF With Mac Preview

Preview is the default app that opens PDF on Mac. Though you can’t edit existing text and images of a PDF in Preview, you can use it to add text, annotations and markups to PDF file. The PDF editing function of preview is ideal for sharing and collaborating in a PDF file.

What Kind of PDF Editing Can Preview Do?

  • Annotate PDF: you can highlight PDFs in different colors, also strikethrough, underline texts. 
  • Add Text to PDF: Though you can not edit text directly, you can add new text or comment to a PDF file.
  • Markup PDF: add text, shape, note to PDF.
  • Protect PDF: Add password or redact to black out sensitive information in PDF. 
  • Add notes and speech bubbles to PDF.
  • Sign PDF File: Add digital signature to PDF file.
  • Edit PDF Pages: Rotate, insert and delete pages in PDF
  • Read PDF Files: Read and add bookmark to PDF
  • Make scanned PDF editable: Copy text from scanned or image PDFs

Steps on how to edit a PDF in Mac Preview

Highlight PDF in Mac Preview

  1. Open PDF with Preview on Mac.
  2. Click Highlights and Notes (The pencil like icon in the tool bar).highlight pdf preview
  3. Choose highlight color or format then select the texts to highlight or underline, then go to File>Save.

Markup PDF in Mac Preview

  1. Open PDF in Mac Preview.
  2. Click Show Markup Toolbar, select a markup tool to add note, shape or text to the PDF.markup pdf preview
  3. Go to File and click Save.

Add/Edit Text in PDF with Mac Preview

  1. Click Show Markup Toolbar, choose T icon. edit pdf in preview01
  2. Then drag the text box to any blank area and edit PDF text in the box.edit pdf in preview02

Trick to Edit Text on Mac with Preview

In the case you want to edit PDF by replacing existing texts with newly added ones, you can white out the text first, then add a text box to edit a PDF on Mac with Preview.​ Choose the “Border Color” as none, and then click the “Sketch” icon, you will be able to white out the texts you want to replace. Once finish editing a PDF on Mac with Preview, click File>Save.

Add Notes and Speech bubbles to PDF in Preview

  1. Click show Makup Toolbar icon, it will show all the PDF editing tools. 
  2. Then click on Note button, it will show you a note box, you can type in the text, If you need to change the note color, you can Control-click on the note and then choose or color you need. You can drag to change the place of the note.

Sign PDF in Mac Preview

  1. Click Show Markup Toolbar.
  2. Click Sign, then add a signature from trackpad or from camera.sign pdf preview
  3. Click File>Save.

Insert or Delete Pages in PDF with Mac Preview

  1. Open PDF in Preview.
  2. Show thumbnails of the PDF pages.manage pdf pages preview 01
  3. Select the page thumbnails, go to Edit, choose Delete or Insert to manage the PDF pages.manage pdf pages preview 02
  4. Go to File>Save.

Select and Copy Text From PDFs With Mac Preview

If you PDF is scanned or you have text in images. you can use the Live Text feature to take copy text from PDF files. Please hover the pointer over the text, then drag it to select it. Control-click your selection. and Choose “Copy”. 

How to Edit A PDF on Mac for Free and The Problems

Except Preview and some paid offline software on Mac, there are still dozens of PDF programs that can solve your problems in editing and no cost to you. Perhaps in the past, we have not seen so many free and useful PDF online tools on the market. But now, many PDF software have begun providing free online services for everyone.

Method 1: How to Edit a PDF on Mac for Free Online?

If you feel safe to upload and edit PDF files, then you can use online PDF editor to edit and make changes to PDF file. 

There are many free online sites on the market, most of them have the same functions. Here we pick PDFfiller, this site supports doing PDF editing like add text to PDF, annotate, sign, comment, blackout, etc. It is the online site that supports the most input source, you can add files from PC or Google drive, dropbox, Onedrive, Box, Email, URL, etc. 

  1. Upload the PDF that you want to edit on Mac from PC, Google drive, dropbox, Onedrive, URL, etc. to the online site.
    edit pdf filler1
  2. Choose the mode you want to edit PDF on Mac. If you want to add text to the fields, click “Text” and input the text. If you want to replace some words or sentences with new ones, open the Replace text button. You can modify the original text, adjust the location and size of inputted fonts.edit pdf filler2
  3. Click “Done” to save the PDF after editing, you can export as PDF or Word as needed. 

Method 2: Use Google Drive to Make PDF Editable

There are software tools that help one edit PDF directly, but there are also free solutions that can make PDF into an editable Word or other formats first. 

One of the most recommend solution is to use Google Docs to turn PDF into editable Word. This method only require you to have a google account, and it’s more safe than online sites, you have no worry to handle and edit your PDF file with Google Drive.

How to Edit PDF on Mac with Google Drive?

  1. Log into your Google Drive and right-click the PDF you need to edit and click Open with > Google Docs.edit pdf mac docs1
  2. Wait a moment and your PDF will be turned into an editable Word.
  3. Then, you can start editing your PDF on Mac in Word for free.edit pdf mac docs2
  4. When you have finished editing, go to File > Download to complete the changes.

Problems of Editing PDF on Mac for Free

In addition to limited PDF editing features, there is a severe problem of editing PDF on Mac with these free solutions - the formatting of the document is changed and may be messed up in the end, especially in Google Docs. You will notice unaligned images, out-of-place table data, incorrect font style, broken lines, missing paragraphs, etc. These are inevitable issues we will run into when using online free PDF editor, they are not born perfect nor full-fledged. 

Why People Want to Edit PDF without Adobe?

You may notice “Adobe Hate” anywhere online, though Adobe is the tech giant, nothing can stop users from looking for Adobe alternatives. Why more and more people not choosing Adobe Acrobat to edit PDF on Mac? You can find the possible reasons as follows:

It requires training or experience to use the app and edit your files
Adobe Acrobat boasts itself in offering a lot of and advanced features to users, which also makes it more difficult to navigate and manipulate a document, you have to get familiar with its interface, workflow and try a lot of time to pick an appropriate tool or option for your PDF.

It requires a powerful computer to install and run it
Though much better than Photoshop, Acrobat is still a resource-heavy program to drag your computer slow, especially when you have downloaded Adobe Creative Cloud that integrate all Adobe apps in one place. If you don’t have a fast and powerful computer, you need to be patient to run and use this tool, or just go crazy when it doesn’t initiate at all.

It requires a high subscription fee
For Acrobat Pro that with all advanced features to edit a PDF file, its best value is $19.99/month, while $239.88/year, which is so expensive, no one is expecting such a high expense on a digital utility that can bring them to nowhere in the end.



We showed several solutions in this article to edit a PDF on Mac. If you have no need to edit existing text in a PDF file, then Preview is what you need, you dont have to install any apps and you can use it to add text, make annotations, markups, redactions, etc. If you need to edit a long PDF or have complex editing needs like updating existing text, links or images in a PDF file you will need a dedicated program such as Cisdem PDFMaster, It offers it’s all function for free in 7 days, Just download and see how it makes you edit a PDF just like the way you edit a word file.

Free Download macOS 10.11 or later Free Download Windows 11/10/8/7

Bianca Huang
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Bianca is a senior tech editor and strategist at Cisdem with Over 10 years of experience on PDF related solutions which covers all document editing, annotating, converting and managing etc.

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Comments (6) Leave a Reply

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  • Michael

    Adobe is so expensive for us common users that I don’t think it’s necessary. Several other methods mentioned in the article are acceptable, and there are many free methods that I like.

    1 years ago commonReply

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  • tamara

    I don't know why guys still use the GOD expensive Adobe, there are more.

    7 years ago commonReply

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  • antonia

    What PDFManagerUltimate convinced me of the purchase was its ability to save PDF as many other editable formats.

    7 years ago commonReply

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  • Kian

    I get used to adding interactive notes on the PDF for team members sharing their ideas, this just proves to be productive with such a tool.

    7 years ago commonReply

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  • weightloss rumor

    I very much enjoyed reading your informative article. I do agree with a lot of your original material and believe it to be quite interesting.

    8 years ago commonReply

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  • Insurancewhisper

    Thank you so much for this information. You have given my brain a real workout and I am grateful. I love intelligent content that is so well written. Good job.

    9 years ago commonReply

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