How to edit a PDF

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Edit PDF

Last updated on April 21st, 2018

PDF (portable document format) is an open-source format which is a great way to quickly compile and publish electronic information. It is not really designed for editing and you need a special software to edit. There are three options for how to edit a PDF when you really need to make important changes.

1) Using Adobe Acrobat

The PDF format was created by Adobe so it makes sense to turn to Adobe Acrobat apps when editing PDF files. However, access to Adobe Acrobat tools has been become more difficult over time and Adobe has moved toward subscription model and it locked most tool behind paywalls.


1) In Adobe Acrobat, Go to File and Open the PDF file that you want to edit. The content should appear in your Acrobat window.

2) Go to Edit PDF tool, which should be a selection in right-side selection in of tools. Select it to move to an interactive mode that allows you to select PDF content.

3) Start making your changes. You can edit text, look for spelling errors, resize most elements and much more. Background, Link, Header and other toolsets all apply here.

Note:  Adobe has a mobile app versions of this software.

2) Using a third-party app

Web apps provide a variety of fast PDF editing options. They are free and available to use or download with a quick trip to your browser.

PDF Unlock

This is a browser based solution where you can either type in the URL of the PDF or select it from your desktop, or upload it from Dropbox or Google Drive. Then select Unlock. When PDFUnlock is done, save the file and open it for editing in whatever PDF editor you have.

PDF sam

PDFsam is good to move around PDF pages to form more complex documents. PDFsam’s layout is simple and easy to understand for beginners. It deals solely in moving content around your PDFs, useful when publishing larger documents and creating outgoing PDF messages quickly.

PDF Xchange Suite

You can download for free and it comes with the PDF-Xchange Editor and Editor Plus, which together provide a long list of things you can do to PDF pages.

You can split, merge, edit, spellcheck, translate to other languages, add comments, and inset external links.


PDFescape is a web-only app and has more usability than PDFsam, but remains an extra-simple free tool for quick work.  It can includes editing text sections of the file, creating new PDF forms within the file, annotating the document, and applying password protection to the file.

3) Converting the PDF file

The last option involves converting the PDF to word and then editing in that program. Adobe allows you to convert PDFs to Word. You can use a dedicated PDF converter like Able2Extract Professional 11 which allows you to convert PDFs into CSV, Word, Powerpoint, AutoCAD, and even Excel formats, among other choices.