4 ways to edit a PDF without using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Discover simple and fast ways to make basic PDF editions such as adding text, signing documents, or completing forms.

Sending PDF files is quite simple, but editing them can be a hassle, especially on the relatively small screen of your phone. Fortunately, I found some simple and fast ways to edit a PDF file on iPhone and Android phones, as well as on Mac and PC computers. Next, I will teach you some basic functions, such as adding text, signing documents, and completing forms. And best of all, all applications and the software I use are free.

Edit a PDF on a Mac

Every Mac comes with a program called Preview, which you can use to view and edit photos and PDF files.

To start, simply double-click the PDF file, and it will open automatically in Preview. If for some reason this does not happen, open your Applications folder and then open Preview. It is the icon that shows a postcard of the ocean and a small magnifying glass in the lower right corner. Once there, you will receive a window that will ask you to select the file you want to open. Once you have selected it, click on the blue Open button and you will be ready to start.

To access the app’s toolbar, click on the Markup tool located in the upper right, next to the search field. Its icon is a pencil tip enclosed in a circle. Then click on the Text tool (its icon is a letter T within a square) and a text box will show in the middle of the document. You can move this box anywhere on the page.

To change the appearance of the text, click on the Text Style tool: it is the icon with the letter “A” in italics. If you need to change the size of the text box, click on any of the blue dots. You can enlarge or reduce the text box by dragging the points to the left or right.

There are also tools for drawing and sketching. The Draw tool allows you to draw everything you want with the cursor, while the Sketch tool converts the objects you draw into filled shapes and customizable borders. If you just want to draw a line or make a scribble, you can change the color and thickness with the Shape Style tool, whose icon is stacked parallel lines, or the Border tool, the icon with a square Small inside a large square. If you don’t feel particularly artistic, you can also add preset figures.

Preview gives you a couple of ways to add and save a copy of your signature.

Maybe my favorite tool is the one that allows you to add a signature. Click the arrow next to the Sign tool, the icon with the letter “J” written in freehand, and then click the Create Signature button. You have the option of using your trackpad to draw your signature with your finger or scan it using the integrated camera of your Mac.

To use the trackpad, first, click on the Trackpad tab, then press the Click Here to Begin button and then, once you have finished signing, press any key. If you like your signature, press Done. The other way to do this is by signing your name on a blank paper and scanning it. Instead of the Trackpad tab, choose the Camera tab. Place the piece of paper in front of the camera and align your signature with the line that appears on the screen. A moment later, your signature will appear in the camera preview. If you like how it looks, press Done.

To add one of your stored signatures to the PDF, simply click on the one you want in the Sign menu. Then, drag it, adjust its size, and place it to the position that corresponds to it in the document.

Finally, to record any edition, simply press Save. You can also export your changes and create a new PDF file.

Mark Up mode (iPhone)

As in the case of the Mac, you don’t need a special application to make basic editions on an iPhone. Instead of Preview, you have the Mark Up mode. If you want to edit a PDF within an email message or a file that you have saved in the Books application, touch the Mark Up mode icon, the circle with a pencil tip inside it, to start. Actually, these are the same tools that appear after making a screenshot.

At the bottom of the screen, different tools appear a pen, a marker, a pencil, and an eraser. You can also touch the plus (+) sign to the right to add text boxes, figures, a magnifying glass, and even signatures.

If you have a signature saved in Preview on your Mac, your iCloud account will automatically sync it with Mark Up mode on your iPhone. To add a new signature directly to your phone, touch Add or Remove Signature, then touch the plus sign (+) at the top left of your screen. Use your finger to sign on the line and press Done to save it.

As you edit your PDF file, you can use the left and right undo arrows, located at the top of the screen, to move forward or backward sequentially through your changes. But there is also an eraser tool that you can use to remove any unwanted drawings, sketches or highlights that you have made, regardless of what order you have added.

When you have finished editing the document, you can reply by email with your updated PDF or, if it is within the Books application, send it by AirDrop or by email, or print it through the Share menu ) from iOS.

Adobe Fill & Sign on Android

Unfortunately, there is no integrated PDF editing tool for the entire Android operating system, but fortunately, there is an endless list of applications for editing PDF files in the Google Play Store. For basic actions, especially filling forms, I like Adobe Fill and Sign, available for free in the Google Play Store.

To get started, open Adobe Fill and Sign and choose your PDF file. The first time you open the application, you will have the option to configure it to start by default every time you open a PDF file. When you have opened your file, tap anywhere on the screen to add a text box. Once you have entered the text, you can move the box by simply touching and dragging it. You can change its size using the large and small “A” letters found along the top bar of the text box.

Adobe Fill & Sign is a free application for Android phones that allows you to edit PDF files and is particularly useful for handling forms.

Adding signatures and initials is simple. Adobe Fill & Sign limits you to a single signature and a single set of initials. The first time you touch this tool, a signature line will appear on the screen. Use your finger to draw your signature or initials. If at any time you want to change your signature or your saved initials, simply touch the X located on the right side of this tool.

Your signature or initials will appear in the document in a box that allows you to adjust the size and that you can also drag and reposition. On the right side of the box, you will see a small blue circle with white arrows to the left and right. Touch and slide the circle to the left or right to make the box bigger or smaller.

Adobe Fill & Sign also has a profile where you can store information such as your address and email to complete forms. When you need to add this information to a PDF form, simply touch the field you wish to complete and then touch the information saved in the same field in your profile.

Throughout your editing process, Adobe Fill & Sign save the changes as you make them. When you’re done, you can send your PDF file via email or save it to Google Drive or other applications through the Android Share menu.

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC for PC

If you use a PC, I recommend you download Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. It is a free and reduced version of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, which costs US $ 15 per month or US $180 per year. Reader DC has several powerful tools to perform a basic edition. And if you are in an environment with a combination of PC and Mac computers, there is also a Mac version.

Open Reader and choose the file you want to edit. There is a Tools tab that allows you to select different sets of tools, depending on the modifications you want to make. For example, one of the toolsets is Adobe Fill & Sign.

From the toolbar, you can add text boxes, signatures, initials, figures, and checkboxes. It works very similar to Preview.

One of my favorite tools in Acrobat Reader is stamps. Click on the Tools tab and open the Stamp toolset. On the toolbar, you will now see a Stamp tool and a Stamps Palette that includes several different types of stamps from which you can choose, such as “Approved,” “Sign Here” (“Signature”) and “Confidential” (“Confidential”), among others.

When you have finished editing your PDF, you can save or export them to a new PDF file or in a different file format, for example, a Word document.