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How to Make a PDF Editable

by Hung Nguyen

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

It’s in the nature of the PDF format not to be editable. They were designed that way back in the 90s when the intention was to realize the dream of a paperless office. Not being editable is also a feature in many cases, as this protects the content from unauthorized changes. But times have changed, and there are many reasons to want to edit a PDF. Lucky for you, nowadays, you can edit PDFs for free.

It’s easy to make a PDF form that is editable. Read our first how-to right away if you need to update a PDF’s structure, format, or other significant components. If you need to fill out a PDF, we have your answers in our second how-to.

Make a PDF Editable

  1. Drop your PDF into the converter.

  2. Choose the format you need—Word, PPT, or Excel.

  3. Download and make your edits.

  4. Use the converter to change it back to PDF. Done!

2023-04-05 - How to Make a PDF Editable

Convert a PDF to an editable Word doc with Smallpdf

How to Fill Out an Editable PDF

  1. Drop the PDF you want to fill out into our free PDF editor.
  2. Fill out the PDF by clicking “Add text box.”
  3. Draw, annotate, type on, write on, or make highlights.
  4. Save and download your edited PDF!

Alternatively, you can get a Pro account to edit the content of your PDF directly. You can also sign up for a 7-day free trial to try it out for free!

How to Edit a PDF on a Mac


The second process described above lets you edit PDFs easily on a Mac. Mac doesn’t have built-in software for converting PDFs into alternative formats, which is why you might want to use our free online PDF converter tool to edit PDFs on a Mac. This isn’t a particular problem with Mac, though. Neither Windows nor Linux have built-in PDF editing capabilities, either. Even with Adobe, you need a paid subscription to edit or convert PDFs.

Why Make a PDF editable?


So, why go through the trouble of making a PDF editable in the first place? There are actually quite a few reasons to do so. Underlining and highlighting are nice, but they can only help so much. You may need to be able to copy and paste text out of the document to compile notes or add annotations, thoughts, and comments right next to the original text for clarification. Once you change your file into an editable PDF, grouping and organizing those notes becomes simple.

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 it fillable. And having a fillable PDF means sharing a PDF form filler—like Smallpdf’s edit tool—is easy. Plus, our Edit PDF tool is free. If you’re running a business and you need people to turn around forms quickly, this is important. There are many applications for PDFs that can be filled out: gathering food preferences from guests, sharing information about your child with school, project details for business you want to win, and so on. 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—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