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PDFs are one of the most common digital document formats around but they can also be extremely frustrating to work with.

If you need to quickly edit an official form in PDF format, some people think they have to pay for PDF editing software such as Adobe Acrobat Pro DC or Kofax Power PDF in order to fill in their details.

However, the good news is you can edit a form and sign it for free on any Mac using either macOS Preview or Google Docs.

It’s really easy and it takes just a few minutes compared to having to print it out, fill it in by hand, sign it and then upload it again.

Note that this tip works for adding text to any PDF document but if you need to edit the existing text, images and formatting in a PDF, you need to scan it with OCR software or use a PDF editing software.

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Here are 2 easy ways to open, edit and sign a PDF document on your Mac for free.

Method 1: Using macOS Preview

Preview is a really useful free tool in macOS that allows you to edit both images and documents easily. Using Preview has the advantage that all of your data stays on your Mac.

You don’t have to upload the document to the Cloud as you do with Google Docs which may not be suitable for sensitive information.

Here’s how to Mark up a PDF in Preview in just a few seconds.

  1. Open Preview on your Mac and make sure that the Show Markup Toolbar option is selected from the View menu.edit PDF free mac preview
  2. In some PDFs, you can start editing instantly but if you can’t, click the Text button in the markup toolbar or choose Tools > Annotate > Text.edit pdf annotate text preview mac
  3. To choose the right font size and colour, click the Text style button in the markup toolbar.edit pdf free preview mac - change text settings
  4. To sign the document, go to Tools > Annotate > Signature. You can then use your Trackpad or mouse to create a signature that you can resize and drag anywhere on the PDF document. edit pdf preview mac signature

Method 2: Using Google Docs

Google Docs is Google’s free document editing service that allows you to easily edit all kinds of documents, including PDFs.

Note that this requires you to upload the document to Google’s servers so if you’re dealing with confidential data, it may be better to use Preview instead.

Here’s how to mark-up and sign a PDF document using Google Docs on your Mac.

  1. If you haven’t got one, sign-up for a Google Account.
  2. Go to Google Docs and click on Blank.edit pdf on mac free - new document
  3. Go to File > Openedit pdf free on mac - upload file
  4. Go to Upload and drag the PDF form you want to open and edit.sign pdf on mac free - upload
  5. When the form opens, click on Open with Google Docs which appears at the top of the screen. open edit pdf mac free - open with google docsIf you click on the small drop down arrow, you’ll also notice other options to open and edit PDFs but these services require signing-up for in order to use them and in many cases, require docs - pdf edit options
  6. You can then edit the form easily and Google Docs will automatically save any edits that you make.
  7. To sign the form for free, there’s a little trick you can do using the Drawing tool. Go to Insert > Drawing > New. sign pdf on mac for free - google docs drawing tool
  8. On the drawing canvas, select the Line tool and then click on Scribble.pdf mac sign - google docs drawing scribble
  9. You can then draw a signature freehand with your mouse. It’s not easy to sign anything with a mouse but it does the job.
  10. Once you’re done, click Save and Close and you’ll be able to move the signature anywhere you want on the page and resize it as you like. google docs drawing tool scribble sign
  11. Finally you can download the edited document as a PDF file from Google Docs by going to File > Download > PDF docs download pdf

Note that this tip only works on PDF forms that allow editing. It won’t work on any PDF document.

It’s a much quicker and easier way of editing a PDF, if you don’t have any PDF editing software on your Mac or you’re not able to print out a document and fill it by pen.

If you’re dealing with a form that has several pages, you can download each PDF separately and then merge them on your Mac using Preview.

You can also convert PDFs to other formats on a Mac easily too.

If you have any problems editing or signing a PDF for free on your Mac this way, let us know in the comments below.

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3 Responses

  1. MacHow2

    Tip: ANY PDF that cannot be edited CAN be… simply PRINT it to another PDF file. This will create a new PDF file, which you can now edit using annotation and drawing tools, etc.

    BTW, would it not simply be easiest to just use macOS Preview? Modern versions too has the ability sign a PDF.

    • MacHow2

      That’s true although it only allows you to add text and annotate the document with arrows etc. To actually edit the existing text or images in a PDF, you need proper PDF editing software or OCR scanning software to make the document editable.

      And yes, macOS Preview is certainly a better option if you want to fill in a PDF form offline for privacy or security purposes.

  2. MacHow2

    True on all counts.

    Another tip is you sort of can edit existing content… I use a technique that just covers up the existing area (typically using a rectangle with matching fill colour, usually white) then add a text area over top and match the font choice and format…not always perfect but can still be quite effective.

    One caveat to this technique is that if you share this modified document with Windows users, sometimes the edits do not show up at all. The work-around for that is once the edits are complete, print the finished product to a new PDF file. Then the changes are properly embedded into the PDF file.


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