When it comes to editing a PDF file on Mac, you have two choices — upload the PDF to an online conversion service, or use a Mac PDF editor app.
While online PDF conversion services have their own advantages and are usually free (though some may have certain restrictions), we assume you’ve already tried out. So, we are not going to talk much about them.
Instead, we want to show you the best PDF editor apps for macOS. After all, you are a business person who handles PDF documents on a regular basis. Desktop software is more convenient to use, and more likely to improve your business productivity.
Here we round up some of the most powerful Mac PDF editors currently in the market. The recommendations below are for Mac users only, if you are on a PC, see our review of the best PDF editor for Windows 10.
Online PDF Editor vs. Desktop PDF Editing App
There is no absolute answer as to which editor is better, but here’s our take:
If you are in a hurry, and you only have several non-confidential PDFs to edit, go for online PDF editing services like PDFescape. Simply open a web browser, upload your PDF file and start editing.
Note: we recommend you not to upload any private or confidential documents due to security concerns. Because your PDF files are going to be uploaded elsewhere in the cloud you can’t control or access.
If your documents are important, and you only have minor editing tasks such as: add a signature, comment, merge/split pages, etc.; We recommend Preview — a free built-in app in macOS that allows you to edit images and PDF files. We’ll cover this app more below.
How about Adobe Acrobat Pro? It’s great, but our main concern is its price — $300 direct purchase (or $15 per month if you go for subscription), it’s definitely on the pricer side. Plus, you can get almost all similar features from other Mac PDF editors we recommend below while paying much less.
Best PDF Editor for Mac in 2020: What to Consider?
The following factors are merely what we think you should consider in order to narrow down the list to come up with your favorite tools. They are, however, by no means the industry standards.
Security: all downloadable software must be free of viruses and malware. Though Macs are widely considered to be more secure than Windows PCs, recent news reveals that macOS isn’t safe anymore due to crapware and malware threats. We make sure the PDF editor app we recommend are clean and safe.
PDF Editing Features: the Mac PDF editor you choose should be able to do basic editing tasks like annotation, add/delete pages, form filling, highlighting, and so on. Advanced editing features include: add a password, create links, export PDFs to other document formats, etc. Bottom line: the best Mac PDF editing software should offer more features than what Preview does.
OCR Support: this is important because if a PDF editor doesn’t support OCR (Optical Character Recognition), you can’t use it to handle scanned PDF files which are essentially images. OCR is able to extract all the content in a scanned PDF file and export objects into editable texts or graphs. The software that integrates OCR technology will save you lots of headaches when it comes to editing scanned PDF documents.
Ease of Use: this is the main factor that makes desktop software superior to most online PDF conversion tools. If you’ve used some online PDF editors, you probably feel the navigation and operation are not that smooth. You need a lot of back and forth to make the change to a desirable level. A great PDF editor app should make it hassle-free and enjoyable during the editing process.
macOS Compatibility: The software you choose should also be able to run on the latest macOS Catalina and be compatible with some older macOS versions that are widely used by Mac users. If it can’t, it would be a waste of your time to download and install it on your Mac on to find it doesn’t work. Besides a PDF editor app that keeps updating tends to be more trustworthy and reliable.
Help/Support: We value those developers that provide helpful tutorials and guides to facilitate the customer experience. Also, it’s ideal that users can reach out to them via email, phone, live chat, etc. for any inquiries or technical questions.
Best PDF Editor for Mac: Our Picks for 2020
1. Preview (Built-in App on Mac)
The Preview app built in your Mac lets you add text to PDFs, highlight it, sign documents, leave comments, and more. You can choose where in the document you’d like to post a note and move it later if you change your mind. Some of the more interesting features include novel ways to sign documents. If you have a trackpad, you can even sign documents with your finger. If you have a camera on your device, you can sign a piece of paper. Hold it up and snap a photo, thereby adding the signature to the document. Editing images with Preview is simple and intuitive, as is the ability to share and export your completed files.
2. Adobe Acrobat Pro
Adobe Acrobat Pro helps you create professional, polished documents that are easy to send and view. With features to protect your files, you’ll never have to worry about other people making modifications or copying sensitive information. With a built-in e-signature feature, you can send, track, manage, and store signed documents. Adobe Acrobat Pro is also known for its ability to convert different kinds of documents into PDFs including Word, Excel, and Paper materials. Calculations, checkboxes, signature fields, can all be converted. This software also includes tools to help you prepare for high-end print production.
3. PDF Expert
PDF Expert makes editing simple by automatically detecting the opacity, font, and size of the original text. You can modify the text, images, or links without difficulty. Some of the other notable features of this software include the ability to collaborate with clients and team members by adding notes and protecting information through passwords. Compatible with any Apple device, iPhone, iPad, and Mac, you can use PDF Expert to transfer files between devices seamlessly. Similar to other editors, you can also use PDF Expert to create applications, tax forms, and sign them with an electronic signature in a few clicks.
PDFpen allows you to draw, scribble, and highlight PDF text with underscoring and strikethrough. You can use editable text blocks to correct texts, and move, copy, and resize images to your liking. The advanced version PDFpen Pro uses OCR technology to turn pictures of scanned text into words you can easily modify and proofread for errors. If your PDF requires more dramatic changes, you can use PDFpen to export to Word for easy sharing and editing. When it comes to signing your PDF with a secure and trusted signature, you have a few options. You can scribble your signature with a mouse or trackpad. You can also scan an image of your signed signature and drag and drop it into place. Lastly, this software gives you complete control over the way the pages of your PDF are formatted. You can delete pages, reorder them, or merge documents as you require.
Known for its intuitive interface, PDFelement offers simple navigation with professional-level results. Using bookmarks, you can quickly locate points of interest and link to them. The included OCR technology can turn paper documents into searchable, selectable, and editable PDFs in over 25 different languages. With paragraph and single-line editing tools, you can maintain the document style by reflowing text. PDFelement also supports form creation, password encryption, annotations, and permissions-based restrictions.
6. ABBYY FineReader
ABBYY FineReader can read pages from a PDF on your hard disk or from a scanner, and with its OCR engine, it can then extract text, arrange tables, and preserve layout so you can make the necessary edits. FineReader’s text recognition accuracy is one of the highest in the industry, according to their internal testing, at a rate of 99.8%. Text sizes, font sizes, headers, footers, footnotes, tables of contents, and footnotes, all can be recreated through this software’s adaptive document recognition technology. You can create searchable PDFs, modify images with the image editor, and create ebooks for reading while on the go.
PhantomPDF is ConnectedPDF Powered, meaning that it offers cloud-based services, such as the ability to grant and revoke document access, collaboration features, and tracking to see who has opened your document. With this editor, you can adjust text flow across multiple pages, columns, or paragraphs. Move text boxes, change their size, and toggle how the text is justified until it fits your requirements. You can create PDFs in virtually any file format, merge PDFs, or split them into different documents.
8. Able2Extract Pro
As a cross-platform tool on Windows and Mac, Able2Extract Professional is a creator, converter, and editor, with multiple uses. You can convert data to and from editable Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, Publisher, PowerPoint, Open Office, Autocad, and all image formats. You can create secure PDFs, sign and edit PDFs. It comes with a wide range of formatting options, with prefixes and suffixes, numbering sequences, date-time stamps. Able2Extract also comes with a number of collaboration features that allow annotations and notes. You might consider this software if you want an editor that handles many different tasks in a simple, intuitive fashion.
9. Power PDF Standard
Power PDF Standard touts itself as a more efficient choice for Mac users than other standard “freemium” PDF editors available. This app has been designed to help maximize productivity when converting, editing, creating, or sharing documents across any platform. You can collaborate with powerful markup and commenting tools. You can send documents securely with features such as password security and text redaction. You can also compile and create PDF files from almost any file type. Power PDF Standard helps you control every aspect of your workflow.
10. PDF Studio for Mac
PDF Studio for Mac was built to be a reliable alternative to Adobe Acrobat with all of the expected features offered at a lower price. As the application only occupies a small amount of space on your hard drive (300MB), you get all the features you need with no bloatware. Some of the features in the standard edition include precision measuring tools, secure documents, and the ability to fill in and save PDF forms. Create watermarks, headers, and footers, all supporting PDF 2.0 standards. The Professional Edition includes OCR text recognition, an interactive form designer, the ability to compare and optimize PDFs, and a way to split and merge documents.
Andreas is a freelance tech writer based in California. He works on a Mac in the office and lives with a PC and many old computer electronics at home. While he is not reading or writing, you’ll probably find him playing online games with friends.