PDFs are widely recognised and used files which contain documents and the related texts, fonts, vector graphics, annotations and pictures. PDF stands for Portable Document Format. It is very useful to store documents as they are presented in a digestible manner. PDF was developed by Adobe but has become open source format which allows editing through various applications and softwares. The editing techniques may vary depends on platform. Here are the best ways to edit PDFs on Windows and Mac for free.

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Windows comes with the Microsoft Office, which consists of widely recognised word processor called Microsoft Word which most people are aware of and use on a regular basis. They may not be aware that it can be used to edit PDFs which easy to do.

You need to import a PDF to Microsoft Word before you can edit. Here is how you can import and export PDFs to and from Microsoft Word and edit the files and it is relatively easy.

  1. Open Microsoft Word and select File > Open and browse your PDFs. Select a file and click on the Open button. Files can be viewed on the window on the right.
  2. A dialog box appears which says that Microsoft Word might take time to convert PDF to an editable file and that the file will not look like the original PDF document if it had some graphics as it will be converted to text format.

The margins, columns, tables, page breaks, footnotes, frames, and fonts differ between the PDF file and Microsoft Word. Text documents may transfer better than documents having several raster images such as charts, tags and footnotes. These limitations of converting PDF to a DOC file should be considered and those with lots of pictures are better suited to another way to edit their files.

  1. The documents can be normally edited on Microsoft Word. Sentences and paragraphs can be added and pictures can be inserted by using Insert > Picture and tables can be inserted, font and font size changed as well.
  2. When the document is changed as desired, select File > Save As and choose PDF from the save as dropdown list.
  3. Choose Optimize for Standard and click Save.

Macbook Preview

MacOS has features which make filling and signing a PDF easy. Features used to edit a PDF depends on version of macOS. Mojave is a recent update to the operating systems which consists of Quick Look which has editing tools. The older versions can open PDF in Preview app where there are options to add text, highlight, underline and strikethrough text, add and remove pages, rotate pages as well as to add comments.

Here are some editing tips:

  1. Open the document in Preview and Quick Look and click on the space where data can be added. It will be possible to type there.
  2. A PDF might have boxes where a tick and a cross input is required. Users can put a cross by pressing X. To put a tick click on the Text box, drag it to the box where a tick is required and type Option/Alt and V which is a tick on Macs.
  3. Copy text by pressing Command and C on the keyboard. Copying can also be done by right clicking on the required text.

PDFelement 6

Free editing software on Macbook and Windows are good for basic editing of PDFs but they fall flat when it comes to advanced editing. Its an additional feature of Microsoft Word and MacOS Preview. There are other purpose made applications specifically to alter PDF files. PDFelement is a reputed software used by a wide variety of industry leading experts and the latest version PDFelement 6 is really cheap with good variety of features which make it stand above free software.

  1. Edit raster images: Raster images can be edited on PDFelement 6. They are read by the software and there are a full host of editing tools for this specific purpose.
  2. Scan documents: Paper documents can be scanned and the software will convert them into an editable PDF file.
  3. Create PDFs from other files: PDFelement allows conversion of file formats other than PDFs to PDF such as image, text formats and it generates PDFs from OCR scans.
  4. Make Interactive Forms: PDFs can allow creation of interactive forms from other non-interactive file formats such as Microsoft Word and Excel.
  5. Encryption: Files can be encrypted to secure documents.

PDFelement is the best alternative to Adobe Acrobat which is the current leader in PDF editing apps. It offers the same features for free. The OCR scan and other advanced scan features are the only features which are not available for free as they require Pro subscription which is still a lot cheaper than Acrobat. Acrobat costs $450 for the desktop Pro version. Pro version is $99.95 with full-featured PDF editor. But you can start with $59.95 to require a standard version. Comparison with the two version here>>

Pro vs Std: Pro version have following extra features over Std version.

  • Automatic Form Recognition
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
  • Bates Numbering
  • Form Data Extraction
  • Redaction
  • Extended Compatibility Support for File Formats
  • Batch Process PDF Files
  • File Size Optimization
  • Scanner to PDFs
  • Support PDF/A

Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10 and several versions of macOS are supported. It is free to download and can upgraded to the payed version if the user feels satisfied and due to its $60 price its a more digestible upgrade. Users are recommended to use it to edit scan and create documents.