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How to Black Out Text in a PDF

by Hung Nguyen

You can also read this article in German, Spanish, French, Indonesian, Italian and Portuguese.

Learn how to quickly black out text in your PDF file with the free PDF Editor from Smallpdf.

In the current digital time, simple processing tasks of PDF files should be a common practice. However things like blacking out text in PDF files to conceal sensitive content can get tricky.

PDF software is usually expensive to purchase. Moreover, you’d often have to opt for a whole tool suite rather than a standalone redact tool - such as in Adobe Acrobat Pro. On the other hand, you can add black boxes over PDF text using common readers, i.e., Preview. However, this can be invalidated by anybody using the same reader. Thus, it’s not the most reliable option, either.

And that leads us to our guide today, on how to black out PDFs free of charge, using our PDF editor.

How To Black Out Text in PDF Files

  1. Click and drag a PDF into the toolbox.

  2. Click on the square symbol and select ‘Rectangle’.

  3. Ensure the color is set to black, and resize it to cover text.

  4. Hit ‘Finish’ and save the document.


How to black out text within your PDFs with Smallpdf.

Rather than using a shape, you can also use our markup pen. Just set the color to black, adjust the thickness and then directly on your PDF, black out text freehand.

What About Other File Formats?


The PDF converter can also be used in case you need to blackout text on documents of other file formats. As you’ve figured, this would entail converting different file types to PDF, carrying out the redacting, and then converting the file back to its original format, or simply leaving it as a PDF. Look out for the ‘connected tools’ function, where you can move directly from one tool to another, without the need to download and re-upload files between each step. On the result page, there should be an option for you to Edit your files once you’ve converted them to PDF format.

OCR is available for Pro users in case you’re dealing with scans - we’re here to help! :)

Another Workaround


If you’re interested in protecting your information by removing it altogether, rather than learning how to black out information on a PDF, we can also help you. You can do this with Smallpdf by converting the PDF to Word (or another Microsoft Office format) to edit the content from there. Then, save it back to the original format using the same tool again.


Example: Convert PDF to Word.

Can I Undo This?


You cannot do so directly from a regular PDF reader. Otherwise, anybody could undo the blacked-out text. So because of this, make sure to have a copy of the original document. Still, there may be workarounds to remove the image element using another tool. Thus, if this is not suitable, you might need to purchase software to redact text from a PDF properly.

If you’re dealing with contracts and signatures, do check out our eSign tool. With this option, you can freely create, sign, and electronic request signatures, all in one go.

Chrome Extension


We receive PDF files everywhere we go, daily. You may be opening a PDF from an online platform, form an email attachment, or exporting a PDF from a cloud service. Regardless, to gain direct access to our editor to redact or black out text in PDFs, check out our Chrome Extension. You can then get the file uploaded and ready for processing in a simple click, anytime, anywhere.

Questions About Security


As a GDPR compliant company, we ensure the safe handling of documents for our 40 million monthly users. For most tools, the materials that are uploaded are not stored on our server infrastructure for more than one hour. This period should give you more than enough time to upload, edit, and save your file. Check out our legal page for more info!

Hung Nguyen
Hung Nguyen
Senior Growth Marketing Manager @Smallpdf