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How to Make a PDF Editable

by Hung Nguyen

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

Add text, fill out PDF forms, edit PDFs for free and instantly convert PDF files to editable formats with Smallpdf.

You can’t just open and edit a PDF file right away. There’s a reason it wasn’t straightforward to edit a PDF on a Mac, on PC, or on mobile for a long time. They weren’t designed that way back in the 90s, when the intention was to realize the dream of a paperless office. Nowadays, you can edit PDFs and edit PDFs for free. 🤓

It’s easy to make a PDF form that is editable. If you need to do that, or to change the structure, format, or other big ticket items in a PDF, read our first how-to now. If you need to fill out a PDF, we have your answers in our second how-to.

Make a PDF Editable

  1. Choose the right Smallpdf PDF converter to Word, PPT, or Excel for your needs.

  2. Drop your PDF into the converter.

  3. Save your converted file on your computer and open in your chosen format (Word, PPT, or Excel).

  4. Make your edits.

  5. Use the relevant Smallpdf converter to change it back to PDF. All done!

Smallpdf Converter

Convert a PDF to an editable Word doc with Smallpdf.

How to Fill Out an Editable PDF

  1. Drag and drop the PDF you want to fill out into our free Smallpdf PDF Editor tool.
  2. Fill out the PDF by clicking where you want to type answers.
  3. You can also draw, annotate, type on, write on, or make highlights using the Edit Tool.
  4. Save and download your edited PDF!

How to Edit a PDF on a Mac


Using the second process above and our PDF converter, allows you to easily edit PDFs on a Mac. Mac does not have built-in software for converting PDF into alternative formats, which is why you might especially want to use our free online PDF converter tool to edit PDFs on a Mac. So far as I know, Windows and other operating systems do not have this built-in functionality either.

In order to convert PDFs to a different format for making larger changes, use our Smallpdf converter tool:

  1. Depending on whether you want to edit your file as a Word doc, PPT, or Excel workbook, for example, choose the relevant Smallpdf converter tool to change the file into that.
  2. Drag your PDF into the tool.
  3. Save your newly changed file to your computer and open it with the appropriate program or app.
  4. Edit and change as much or as little as you want in your file.
  5. Use the right Smallpdf converter to reverse the process and make your file a PDF again. Job done!

Why make a PDF editable?


So, then, why go through the trouble of making a PDF editable in the first place? There are plenty of reasons to make a PDF editable. For one thing, if a PDF online is not editable, then the text itself can’t be highlighted. You can still highlight free-hand, and our editor is amazing at that, but you may want to highlight the text itself for another reason. If your PDF is not editable and if you want to take notes from your highlights on a document—if you’re a student, an academic, a lawyer, a doctor, a person in the world— you can’t copy and paste text out of the document. So you can’t compile your notes. Once, you change your PDF into an editable PDF, grouping and organizing those notes becomes the easiest thing imaginable.

Fillable PDFs are Useful for Businesses


At the same time, if it’s editable, people can fill the PDF out with information and return it to you. Making a PDF editable automatically means it’s easy to make a PDF fillable. And having a fillable PDF means sharing a pdf form filler—like Smallpdf’s edit tool—is easy. Plus, our Edit Tool, the PDF filler, is free. If you’re running a business and you need people to turn around forms quickly, this is important. It could be as simple as their preferences for a fundraiser dinner you’re catering, it could be permission for a child to join a school trip, or it could be details about some work on a house that you, a contractor, are trying to win. In all of these cases, you want to make it easy for people to return filled-in PDFs to you. You want filling in PDFs to be easy and free for your customers. And we specialize in making all things PDF easy.

Annotate PDFs to Give Writers Feedback


A final example: say you offer to help a friend by reading and making notes on their novel. If the PDF of their magnum opus is editable, you can type on the PDF, write on it, draw on it (“move this paragraph here”)—whatever you want! It just makes life that much easier if you’ve turned your PDF into an editable PDF. Finally, don’t forget to check out all our other tools. You can do tons with Smallpdf, including signing, splitting, merging and compressing your PDFs.

Hung Nguyen
Hung Nguyen
Senior Growth Marketing Manager @Smallpdf