Portable Document Files (PDF) are widely used in business and academia. An application with the ability to efficiently work with these files can be an important part of your software toolbox. 

Mac users who need to edit PDF files have many options available to them. There are free applications as well as paid solutions from which to choose. Some of them offer greater functionality than others and may be more suited to your needs.

We have put together this list of PDF editors to give you an idea about what is out there and help you find the one that works best for you.

5 Best FREE PDF Editors for Mac

First, let’s take a look at free solutions. They may not have all of the functionality of a paid solution but could be enough for your requirements. Since they are free, there is no risk to try them.

1. Acrobat Reader DC

Acrobat Reader DC pdf editor for Mac

Adobe is the creator of the PDF format and has consistently been a leader in applications that allow users to interact with PDF documents. The Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is a stripped-down version of its full Acrobat tool which we will talk about in the paid software section of this article. 

Features:

  • Allows users to view, print, and comment on PDF documents.
  • Enables interaction with all types of PDF content including forms and multimedia presentations.
  • Connection to the Adobe Document Cloud facilitating work across multiple computers and mobile devices. 
  • The ability to download a free trial of Acrobat Pro DC which enables users to create and edit PDF documents. 

Download Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (Free): get.adobe.com/reader/


2. LibreOffice

libreoffice draw pdf editor for Mac

Here is a free suite of office productivity tools that includes the ability to edit and export files in the PDF format. It is open-source software that provides users with a comprehensive set of applications including word-processing, spreadsheets, drawing, and presentation tools. 

Features:

  • PDF documents are opened by default in the Draw tool where they can be edited.
  • Files of any type can be exported to PDF format.
  • PDF files can be exported to other file formats for compatibility.

Download LibreOffice (Free): www.libreoffice.org/download


3. Skim Skim pdf editor for Mac

Skim is a free application that extends the capabilities of Mac’s Preview program. It was originally designed as a tool for viewing and notating scientific papers and serves that purpose very well. The program can be used to view any PDF file. Unfortunately, it does not have a very user-friendly interface which will impact its viability for some users.

Features:

  • View PDF files and read them in full-screen mode.
  • Add and edit notes on the files you are viewing.
  • Highlight important text within a PDF document.
  • Magnification and smart cropping tools.
  • Automatically download remote PDFs.  

Download Skim (Free): https://sourceforge.net/projects/skim-app


4. Inkscape 

Inkscape pdf editor for Mac

Inkscape is a free drawing tool that also can be used as a PDF editor. When you open a PDF file in Inkscape you need to ensure you select the “Import text as text” option. When you are finished editing it, just save it as a PDF file or another supported format.

Features:

  • Object creation with drawing, shape, and text tools.
  • Manipulate objects in PDF documents.
  • Multiple fill and stroke options.
  • Extensive support for text editing.

Download Inkscape (Free): inkscape.org/release/inkscape-1.0/mac-os-x/


5. macOS Preview application

macOS Preview pdf editor for Mac

Native support for viewing and editing PDF files is provided by the Mac Preview application. The editing capabilities are limited to filling out forms, annotating or signing a PDF file created with another program. Preview is the default macOS viewing platform for many types in addition to PDFs including BMP and JPEG files.

Features:

  • View and save PDF documents.
  • Annotate PDF documents including highlighting and underlying.
  • Add notes to PDFs.
  • Combine PDFs and add, delete or move pages within a document
  • Password-protect and compress PDFs.

5 Best Paid PDF Editors for Mac

If the functionality of the free PDF editors is not sufficient for your requirements, you might be better served with a paid solution. Here are some great applications from which to choose.

1. Adobe Acrobat for Mac

Adobe Acrobat pdf editor for Mac

Adobe Acrobat has long been the industry standard in PDF editors for the Mac. It has an impressive array of features that give you full control over PDF documents. Using the Adobe Document Cloud enhances the functionality of Acrobat and makes it easier to share and collaborate with colleagues. The software is sold on a subscription basis and also offers a one-time purchase option. Full Review

Features:

  • Create PDF documents from virtually any type of file.
  • Convert webpages and JPG files to PDFs.
  • Split and merge PDFs.
  • Edit PDFs and fill out forms.
  • Compare two PDF files.
  • Share and sign PDFs securely.
  • Password-protect sensitive documents.

Get Adobe Acrobat for Mac: acrobat.adobe.com/us/en/acrobat/pricing.html


2. Sejda PDF Desktop Pro 

Sejda PDF Desktop pdf editor for Mac

Sejda PDF Desktop PDF editing software that has free and Pro versions available. The Pro version removes any limitations on the number of tasks or file sizes that are enforced when using the free tool. It’s an alternative to Acrobat and has both subscription and perpetual license options.

Features:

  • Edit PDF files.
  • Merge and split PDFs.
  • Apply password restrictions on your documents.
  • Convert between PDF and other file formats.
  • Watermark PDF documents.
  • Convert PDF text and images to grayscale.

Get Sejda PDF Desktop for Mac: www.sejda.com/desktop#pricing

Get education discount https://www.sejda.com/teachers


3. FineReader Pro for Mac

FineReader Pro pdf editor for Mac

FineReader Pro is another paid PDF editing solution that has a free trial available for customer evaluation. The product is sold with a perpetual license and is available through the Apple Store. It has many features that make it an attractive tool for users working with PDF files.

Features:

  • Cutting-edge optical character recognition (OCR).
  • Supports over 180 languages.
  • Intuitive, Mac-like interface for enhanced productivity.
  • Edit PDFs and save documents in any format.
  • Create searchable PDFs for archiving.

Get FineReader Pro for Mac (Free Trial): pdf.abbyy.com/lp/finereader-mac-download-free-trial/

Get FineReader Pro for Mac with 10% OFF using the coupon code “ABBYY10OFF”


4. Foxit PhantomPDF

foxit phantompdf pdf editor for Mac

Phantom PDF is a comprehensive tool designed to streamline the process of creating and managing PDF documents. There are personal and professional versions of the tool which both offer free trials and are sold with a lifetime license or on a subscription basis. 

Features:

  • Create and edit PDFs and fillable forms.
  • Convert paper documents to editable and searchable paperless PDF files.
  • Share content with cloud storage.
  • Track and notify readers when new versions of a document are available. 

Get PhantomPDF for Mac (Free Trial): www.foxitsoftware.com/downloads/


5. PDFpen

pdfpen pdf editor for Mac

PDFpen is a powerful PDF editor for the Mac with many useful features. The free trial version of the tool is fully functional but places a watermark on output files. It has some interesting capabilities wrapped up in a basic interface. If you work with a lot of PDF files, this program might be just what you need.

Features:

  • Edit PDF documents and add note and cloud annotations
  • Scan and edit documents with OCR capabilities.
  • Redact personal information from PDF documents.
  • Sign and fill forms.
  • Auto-generate fillable form fields.

Get PDFpen for Mac (Free Trial): smilesoftware.com/pdfpen/download

Get PDFpen Pro with 30% OFF using the coupon code “EDUDISC2”


Worth Trying –  Online PDF Editors

You might be able to get by with an online PDF editor and they are certainly worth trying. If you just have a file that needs some quick work, an online editor may do the trick. Here are two options for you to check out.

1. Smallpdf 

smallpdf pdf editor for Mac

Smallpdf is a web-based PDF editor that allows you to select a file from your system or drag-and-drop it into the tool’s interface. It offers a free trial and the Pro version requires a monthly subscription. The application has extensions for some web browsers like Chrome. You can try Smallpdf at this website https://smallpdf.com/edit-pdf.

Features:

  • A simplified interface that makes it easy to edit PDF files.
  • Functional on all operating systems and mobile browsers.
  • Secure editing with SSL encryption.
  • Quickly add text and fill out PDF forms.

2. PDFescape

pdfescape pdf editor for Mac

PDFescape is a free online PDF editor that limits file size to 10MB or 100 pages. You can access the application at https://www.pdfescape.com/

Features:

  • Create, view, and edit PDF files.
  • Annotate PDF documents.
  • Fill out PDF forms.
  • Password-protect PDF files.

Choosing the Best PDF Editor in 2020: What to Consider?

When you are selecting the right PDF editing solution for your needs you should consider the features set that addresses your requirements. If you need basic functionality and are not interested in creating PDF documents, the free tools will be sufficient for your needs. You might find that the built-in Mac capabilities of the Preview app give you all the functionality that you need.

More extensive work with PDF files probably warrant the use of a full-featured, paid application. All of the tools mentioned above can get the job done and offer free trial versions. See which ones look good to you and give them a try. Once you find the one you want, it is usually more cost-effective to purchase the tool outright than use it on a subscription basis.

Jeff Cochin

Jeff Cochin is a data management and recovery expert. He also serves as a technical writer, testing and reviewing tech solutions in various fields.Jeff Cochin is a professional data management, warehousing and recove...

Read full bio
Avatar
Approved by
Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.