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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.

Use Smallpdf’s free PDF editor to quickly black out text in your PDF file. Hide private information professionally and easily.

Processing things like PDF files should be an easy task, considering how far we’ve come with digitalizing most everything in the last few years. However, things like blacking out text in PDF files to conceal sensitive content can get tricky.

PDF software is usually expensive to purchase. Also, you’d often have to opt for a whole tool suite rather than a standalone redaction tool, such as in Adobe Acrobat Pro. On the other hand, you can use standard readers like Preview to add black boxes over PDF text. However, this can be invalidated by anybody using the same reader. As a result, 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. Drag and drop a PDF into the toolbox.

  2. Click on the square symbol and select ”Rectangle.”

  3. Set the color to black and resize it to cover text.

  4. Done!

2023-04-01 - How to Black Out Text in a PDF

How to black out text within your PDFs with Smallpdf

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

What About Other File Formats?


The PDF converter can also be used to black out text on documents of other file formats. Usually, this would require converting different file types to PDF, performing the redaction, and then either converting the file to its original format or simply leaving it as a PDF. With our editor, you can work directly with multiple formats. Just drop your Word, Excel, or PPT files into the tool and get to work right away.

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. Then, save it back to the original format using the same tool again. And here’s the cherry on top: Even if your files are scans, we can handle them. Smallpdf offers top-notch OCR for Pro users, turning photos of your files into readable documents.

If you’re a Pro user, you can edit PDF content directly in our editor and delete it immediately. You can check out the feature for free by signing up for a 7-day free trial. You can also try out all our Pro features and tools to get the full Smallpdf experience.

2023-04-01 - How to Black Out Text in a PDF - PDF to Word

Example: Convert PDF to Word

Can I Undo This?


A regular PDF reader can’t help you here, unfortunately. Otherwise, anybody could undo the blacked-out text, and that’s exactly what you’re trying to prevent. The easiest way to undo the process is to make sure you save a copy of the original document. Still, there may be workarounds to remove the black rectangle element you used to cover up the text using another tool. So, if you want to be 100 % sure, you can sign up for a free trial and delete the text on your PDF using the Edit tab in our editor.

Chrome Extension


We receive PDF files on the go daily. You may be opening a PDF from an online platform, from 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 upload the file and get it 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 millions of monthly users. For most tools, uploaded materials aren’t 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