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How to Edit a PDF on Mac for Free [2023]

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Avatar of author Fred Melanson

Fred Melanson

Published: Tue Aug 29 2023

Editing PDFs on Mac is a problem that many professionals and students face. PDFs are one of the most used file formats to share information with peers or clients.

You can edit PDFs on a Mac with Quick Looks or Mac Preview. The problem is that these 2 options lack editing features that third-party tools provide.

In this article, we walk you through the PDF editing process on Mac with Quick Look and Preview.

We then introduce a new tool to speed up your editing process!

How to Edit a PDF on Mac for Free?

For Apple users, there are two ways to edit PDFs without third-party software: Quick Look and Mac Preview.

Let us walk you through both of these methods.

Edit a PDF on Mac via Quick Look

Quick Look is a good tool for previewing PDFs on Mac, and we like it for two major reasons.

  • It doesn't require opening a secondary app
  • It has sufficient features to help you edit PDFs on Mac for free

Here's how to get started.

Step #1. Open PDF in Quick Look

Locate the PDF you want to edit on your Mac, click on it once, and press Spacebar to preview it on Quick Look.

Alternatively, right-click on the PDF you want to edit and select Quick Look .

Step #2. Open Quick Look Editor

Click the Pencil icon at the top-right corner to access PDF editing tools.

A toolbar with editing options opens at the top.

Here’s what Quick Looks editing options offer:

  • Draw: Starting from your left side, the first two icons you see let you draw anything anywhere on the PDF
  • Shape: Insert shapes and figures - line, arrow, circle, rectangle, square, start, etc.
  • [A]: Add a text box
  • Highlighter: Mark important texts or paragraphs
  • Sign: Create and e-sign forms or other PDF documents
  • Text Style: Change font style, color, size, alignment, and line thickness
  • Rotate: This lets you rotate selected pages of the PDF
  • Crop: Crop PDF page

Edit a PDF on Mac Via Preview

Another way to edit a PDF on Mac is by opening it in Preview mode. Like Quick Look, Preview is also an in-built PDF viewer.

Step #1. Opening PDF in Mac’s Preview Mode

To open a PDF in Mac Preview mode, just double-click the PDF.

Step 2: Editing PDF in Mac Preview’s Mode

Mac Preview provides every editing option that Quick Look offers, and more. Preview’s top menu bar includes all the editing options in Quick Look.

Apart from these editing options, the Tools section at the top of your Mac screen offers annotation tools like underlining, strike-through, drawing shapes, etc.

How to Edit Text in PDF for Mac?

A better way to edit PDF on Mac is via Macro – a dynamic PDF editor that allows you to add texts, create signatures, reorganize pages in PDF files, and much more.

How is this a better option? 🤔

Macro gives you advanced editing features that Mac's Quick Look and Preview modes don't.

You can:

  • Add page numbers to PDFs
  • Add images
  • Watermark your PDF so no one can copy your content
  • Add header & footer
  • Write comments and share them with your team
  • Bookmark pages and refer to them whenever you want
  • Leverage AI to review errors

Here's a step-by-step guide on editing text in PDFs with Macro.

Step #1. Download Macro for Mac

Visit Macro’s website and click on the ‘Download’ icon.

Note: Macro automatically downloads the most compatible app version on your PC. However, in some cases, you might be asked to select an app variant manually depending on your Mac's version (before or after 2020).

Step #2. Opening PDF in Macro

Once logged in to Macro, click ‘ Open a PDF or DOCX file.’

Select the PDF you want to edit and click on Open .

Step #3. Editing PDF Text in Macro

To get started, select the text you want to edit – it might be a word, sentence, or paragraph. As you select, a toolbox appears with several editing options.

Here's a breakdown of each icon you see:

Highlight text to stress over crucial points. Click on the drop-down button to change color.

Underline phrases or sentences you want.

Strikethrough unnecessary sentences and phrases.

Redact any sensitive or confidential information from your PDF.

At any point, you can delete edits you’ve made by clicking the bin icon.

Step #4. Adding Text in PDF

Click the paper-pencil icon you see on the top-left toolbar.

A list of tools appears on the left-hand sidebar. Click on the Text Box button to add some text to your PDF.

You can place this text box anywhere in your PDF. Furthermore, you can customize the text in all forms – change font style, size, color, and more.

Step #5. Saving PDF

Click on the Save icon (looks like this 💾) that you see in the top right corner of Macro.

👀 Note: Macro lets you save an encrypted copy of the PDF to avoid any information leaks.

How to Add a Signature to PDF on Mac?

E-signing PDF forms, contracts, or undertakings is something you don’t want to mess up. Macro can help you generate a digital signature and sign contacts in minutes.

Here’s how 👇

Step #1. Create Signature

Click on the Signature icon in the left-hand side toolbar.

Step #2. Add Signature

Select a place in your PDF to add a signature. After you finalize the place to sign, a pop-up will appear asking you to Draw or Type your signature.

❗Spoiler Alert: It was uncomfortable drawing with Mac's touchpad. So we chose to type.

For curious minds out there - here's what a drawn signature looks like 😉

Not so pretty, eh!

Meanwhile, you can see your signature appear on the PDF in real time. Once you're satisfied, click on Sign .

And there you have it, a signed PDF!

How to Rearrange PDF on Mac?

Step #1. Open Organizer in Macro

From the top left menu bar, click on the Pages icon to enter the Organize tab.

Here, click on Organize, Export, and Merge . If you haven't saved the PDF yet, you will be asked to save it before rearranging it. Go ahead and click Save .

Once saved, a dashboard will appear on your screen. Think of this dashboard as a command center to help you organize PDFs.

Step #2. Rearrange PDF

Here are the things you must know about Macro's rearrangement process:

You can:

  • Drag pages to reorder them
  • Press Cmd+Left click to select multiple pages
  • Press Shift+Left click to select a series of pages

Further, click the Add Files button (navigation bar in the center) to add pages from a different PDF!

Once you’ve rearranged your PDF successfully, click on Done at the top-right corner to save it.

How to Add a Watermark to Your PDF

You might want to add a watermark to your PDF for numerous reasons:

  • Copyright Protection: Prevent unauthorized distribution of the PDF or copying of its content
  • Branding: Incorporate your company's logo as a watermark to promote it
  • Tracking Versions: Use watermarks to track PDF versions

Adding a watermark on Mac isn’t possible with its default Quick Look or Preview method.

That’s where Macro can help.

Step 1: Open the PDF

Open the PDF you want to add a watermark to via Macro and click on the Edit option from the top left menu bar.

Step 2: Adding Watermark to the PDF

From the left-hand side menu, click on ‘Watermark.’

When you click it, Macro will ask you to select the area inside the PDF where you want to apply the watermark. Once you select the area, you will see a box like this 👇

Step 3: Selecting and Adjusting the Watermark’s Placement

The best part about Macro is that you can upload an image as a watermark, giving you much more design flexibility.

You can drag and drop the image in the box or browse through files to upload it.

Either way, watermarking your PDFs with Macro can be done in seconds.

👀 Note: When you do the abovementioned process for one PDF page, Macro will automatically put a watermark on all pages.

How to Add Headers & Footers to a PDF

Headers and footers play a vital role in PDFs. Depending on what the PDF consists of, the headers & footers may contain mandatory information.

For example, a course seller might use a header for the chapter name to help readers navigate content, and a footer to add page numbers.

Whereas in legal documents such as an employment contract or a subpoena, footers might contain disclaimers and terms & conditions.

These are just examples of using headers & footers in a PDF. Whatever the reason, Macro lets you add these elements easily.

Step #1. Open Edit Menu in Macro

After opening the PDF and clicking Edit in Macro, select the Header & Footer option from the left-hand menu.

Step 2: Applying Header & Footer to PDF

Select the top part of the PDF to write a header.

Select the bottom part of the page to write a footer.


To differentiate your header & footer from the rest of the PDF, customize them.

You can customize your header & footer by:

  • Changing font style
  • Increasing and decreasing font size
  • Making text Bold or Italics
  • Changing text color

Read and Edit PDFs Faster with Macro

Let’s face it; Mac’s default Preview mode can help you make great edits to PDFs.

But to add that extra spice, you need a third-party tool that lets you comprehensively edit them.

Macro is one such tool that, in tandem with Mac's default editing options, can make your PDFs go from good to great. So download the Macro app for Mac and try it out for free!


Avatar of author Fred Melanson

Fred Melanson

Fred leads Growth at Macro. He is a passionate generalist in the Product-Led GTM space, with experience in content creation, marketing strategy & sales. His LinkedIn has over 1M views yearly, and his Vlogs generate hundreds of thousands of views. His favorite thing in the world is walking with his dog, Lola 🐶
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