Best free PDF editors for Mac

PDFExpert for Mac from Readdle offers a seven-day full-featured free trial, which could make it ideal if you just need a solution now and don’t expect to be editing PDFs again for a while. If you do need it for longer than a week it costs $79.99/£72.99 a year on subscription, or $139.99/£119.99 if you choose the Lifetime plan.

We found PDFExpert did a good job of maintaining the fonts, style and formatting of the original PDF.

There are two options for editing that you can find in the menu at the top of the page: Annotate and Edit. Under Annotate you will find the tool to easily add text to the PDF. You can choose the font and colour of the text here.

However, you will find the better editing tools under Edit. Here you have the option to actually edit the text already on the page, add images, add hyperlinks, and redact sensitive information (you can choose to black out names, or you can search for a specific word and delete every occurrence of that.)

We were able to select text and move it around the page. But as we found with all the PDF editors here, it wasn’t possible to drag and drop text between pages (to get around this we were able to cut and paste though and still make a good-looking document).

Back to the Annotate tab. Here you will find options to highlight, underline, or strike-through text, as well as a pan tool that means you can draw freehand in any colour, as well as change the line width and opacity. There’s also a crop tool here. In Annotate you can also add sticky notes and stamps (e.g. an Approval). You’ll see a column of existing annotations on the left so its easy to see what edits have been made and when. These annotations can be exported as HTML, text or markdown.

Adding a signature is also done via the Annotate tab. You can add more than one signature and these are added via the keyboard, trackpad, or an image. To add the signature to your PDF just drag and drop from the signature pane. You an also add a watermark yourself, perhaps your company logo, rather than having one added for you as is the case with some of the other trials looked at here.

Resizing a large PDF was easy thanks to a High/Low slider that indicated the size of the resulting file. There was also the option to merge files, combine multiple documents into one PDF, or individual pages from multiple documents.

We had one PDF that was scanned on our iPhone via the Notes app (we explain how to scan a document with an iPhone here). Obviously such a document will only be recognised by the PDF editor if the editor has OCR abilities that are unlocked in the trial. PDFExpert couldn’t do this so we weren’t able to edit the text in the scanned document, although we were able to add hyperlinks to sections of that document. Obviously we couldn’t search the scanned document, or edit the text there.

We were able to search normal PDFs though, and we were able to search for a word and redact every occurrence of it either by blacking it out, or deleting it.

We were able to export the PDF into Word, PowerPoint and Excel, as well as to Text and Image.

It’s a free seven day trial, so if you need the software for longer than that and don’t want to pay up then you would have to look elsewhere. But if you don’t need something long term this trial offers everything you need.

Best free PDF editors 2023: Our top picks

PDF editors are an indispensable tool for those who frequently work with PDF files. Whether it’s part of your job, you manage PDF files for your own personal use, or you just need to complete a one-off editing task, a top editor program is an essential piece of software. Full-featured editors such as Adobe’s Acrobat Pro DC might provide all of the bells and whistles, but a free PDF editor can still offer most of the important tools of a paid service for no additional charge.

Plus, free PDF editors are typically browser based, meaning you won’t need to worry about platform- or device-compatibility issues.

Of course, free products won’t come with every feature of their paid counterparts. So, if you find that you need more advanced tools such as password protection, bates numbering, or e-signatures, then you’re probably better served by one of the best premium PDF editors.

PDF Candy – Best free PDF editor overall


  • Many advanced features
  • OCR capability
  • Very easy to use
  • Cons

  • Lacks a single interface, which some users may not like
  • Free version limits you to one task per hour
  • Price When Reviewed: Free

    PDF Candy is the rare free PDF editor that offers a lot of the features you’d typically have to pay for. We’re talking scanning, multiple file-conversion options, and OCR functionality. While the free version has access to the expansive toolset of the paid version, you’re limited to one PDF task per hour. For unfettered access, you need to shell out $6 month.

    Read our full PDF Candy review

    Apple Preview PDF editor – Best free PDF editor for Mac users


  • Full set of PDF markup tools
  • Supports form filling
  • PDFs can be protected with passwords, encryption, and permission controls
  • Cons

  • Limited native sharing options
  • Only available to Mac users
  • Price When Reviewed: Built into macOS

    Mac users have an excellent PDF editor built right into their operating system. Although its ostensibly a photo viewer, macOS’s Preview app is rife with PDF-editing capabilities including tools for adding text and shapes, redacting content, making freehand drawings, inserting sticky notes, and capturing your signature using your trackpad, camera, or iPhone.

    Read our full Apple Preview PDF editor review

    Sejda PDF editor – Most versatile free PDF editor


  • Online and desktop versions available
  • Performs dozens of PDF tasks
  • No frills interface is easy to use
  • Cons

  • There are daily usage limits without a subscription
  • Limited font options
  • Price When Reviewed: Free (Premium $7.50 p/m)

    Offered as both an online tool and a desktop editor, Sejda is capable of performing dozens of tasks including editing, form creation and filling, Bates stamping, file encryption, and more. If the daily usage limits are too restrictive for you, you can upgrade to the affordable paid version.

    Read our full Sejda PDF editor review What to look for in a free PDF editor
  • Content editing: As its name indicates, a PDF editor’s primary function is to enable you to edit a document. That includes the ability to add and modify text; insert, resize, and move images; and reorganize pages in the PDF. Most free PDF editors will let you perform these tasks, though they may impose daily limits on how many you can perform or how many documents you can edit.
  • Create, convert, and export PDFs: A common need for a PDF editor is to create PDF files from scanned hard copies or by converting digital documents. A good free PDF editor will be able to convert common file formats such as Word, JPG, and HTML to a PDF and preserve the original formatting. It should also be able to export PDFs into other editable formats such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, HTML, or plain text, maintaining the original files hyperlinks, images, and other elements.
  • Review and annotate: Most free PDF editors allow you to add comments and other annotations to PDF files during review. Typical annotation tools include sticky notes, shapes, and drawing markup options.
  • Signatures: Often all you need a PDF editor for is to sign a document. This used to be a premium feature only available on paid desktop editors, but more free PDF editors are allowing users to create and add electronic signatures to documents.
  • FAQ 1. Is there a difference between a PDF document and a PDF form?

    While there are a number of different types of PDF file formats, they all fall under the umbrella term of PDF documents. A PDF form is a type of PDF document that has editable form fields a user can fill out. Typically, parts of the document are static and can’t be changed in a PDF form. These usually include questions and instructions for those who end up filling out the form later on. In a PDF form, the content fields a user fills out are typically open to editing and can offer a list of possible answer options or can be written in freely.

    2. Are Word files and PDF documents different?

    Yes. They are two entirely different document formats. While you can export from one file format to another, they are not the same. Word file formats are usually used for word processing, editing, and making changes to text. PDF documents on the other hand, are most often utilized for viewing, sharing, and printing documents. Additionally, Word files can be read and/or written to and contain some version of the “.doc” file format. Whereas PDF files are typically read-only and contain the “.pdf” file format.

    3. Can you stop other people from editing your PDF documents?

    Yes. If you have a PDF document that you do not want anyone else to be able to edit, you can protect the file. You can do this by opening the file in Acrobat, clicking Tools > Protect. Then you have a few options as to whether you want to just restrict editing with a password, or if you want to encrypt the file for further safety. Once you choose how you want to protect the PDF document, you can set a password and save.

    4. Can I merge PDFs with a free PDF editor?

    Yes, many free PDF editors such as our top pick PDF Candy, allow you to merge two or more PDFs into one. As most free PDF editors are browser-based, you will just need to open up the PDF editor application or website in your browser and click the “Merge” option. It will then ask you to add the files of all PDFs you wish to merge. Once the files have been added, just make sure that they are in the correct position and alignment you want before proceeding with the merge. Afterwards, all of your previously PDF files will be merged together into one new PDF document.


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