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How to edit a PDF

Quick and easy document editing

Image credit: Shutterstock/TechRadar

Welcome to our guide on how to edit a PDF. PDFs files are useful thanks to their flexibility, and you can send a PDF to pretty much anyone, no matter whether they’re on a computer, phone or tablet, and know that they should be able to open it. There’s no need to worry about incompatible file formats – it just works.

With the right free PDF editor at your disposal, editing a PDF is just as simple, whether you need to make a few quick changes or extensive alterations. Join us as we show you how it’s done, so you can start editing your PDFs in just a few clicks.

1. TechRadar’s choice: ApowerPDF

ApowerPDF (opens in new tab) is TechRadar’s Editor’s Choice when it comes to PDF editors, and it’s easy to see why. It’s feature-packed and easy to use without being overwhelming, and the online version is totally free.

First, install the launcher that lets you run ApowerPDF. Once that’s done, click 'Launch Online' to open the free version of the app. 

This has almost all the same features as the premium version (minus the watermark-removal tool); clicking 'Download Now' launches the premium trial, which will watermark your finished PDF files unless you buy a license.

2. Start editing with ApowerPDF

Open the online version of ApowerPDF, click 'Edit PDF', then choose a PDF file. Text boxes and images are automatically outlined; click to edit text or click and drag to move an image.

On the right-hand side there is a toolbar giving you options for editing text. You can change its color, size, positioning and spacing, and can format it to add strikethroughs, superscript and subscript. 

It’s lightweight, very simple to use and remarkably powerful for a free program.

3. Create new PDFs

One of the more impressive features of ApowerPDF is its PDF creator. This type of functionality is usually reserved for paid-for programs, but here you get it for free. 

To get started, click 'Launch Online' on the ApowerPDF home page, then click 'Create PDFs'. This lets you open any file and output it as a finished PDF, with all the editing tools from the last step available should you need them.

You can also create a PDF document from scratch. Once ApowerPDF has opened a file, click 'Create' in the top-left corner, then click 'Blank Document'. 

Specify the file dimensions you need – either from a number of templates or your own custom size – then click 'OK'. You can then add images and text by clicking 'Edit', then 'Add Text' or 'Add Image', and manipulate them in the usual way.

4. How to use LibreOffice Draw to edit a PDF

The open source office suite, Libre Office, comes with the Draw (opens in new tab) program, which is a capable PDF editor with an impressive array of features for a totally free app. There’s no fee to pay, no watermarks on your output and nothing locked behind a free trial.

Once you’ve opened a PDF, click anywhere on the page and it’ll automatically select the image or text box, which can then be moved or manipulated. 

You can add new elements, including charts, media or layers as well as text, shapes and images. There are plenty of drawing, transformation and export options – there really is a lot on offer.

5. How to edit a PDF with PDF-XChange Editor

PDF-XChange Editor (opens in new tab) is one of our favorite PDF editors, mainly because it’s so easy to use. Once you’ve installed it, open a PDF and click 'Edit' in the toolbar. 

If you want to edit text, click 'Text' in the menu that appears. Now, click the text box you wish to edit and it’ll highlight; click and drag the handles to resize it, and type to change the text itself.

While the free version of PDF-XChange Editor lets you edit pictures by clicking Edit > Images, it’ll place a watermark on the finished file unless you pay for it.

6. How to edit a PDF with Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Adobe Acrobat (opens in new tab) is one of the most well-known programs for viewing PDF files. It also makes it easy to edit PDF files using a variety of tools.

To get started, open your PDF in Acrobat and click Edit PDF on the right-hand side of the top toolbar. If you need to edit the text, just place your cursor over the text you want to change; you can change its appearance with the Format options in the toolbar.

If you need to adjust an image, hover your pointer over a picture to highlight it, then edit it using the Objects options in the same toolbar as when you edited text.

7. How to edit a PDF with Foxit PhantomPDF

The same people behind the excellent Foxit Reader have made PhantomPDF (opens in new tab), a lightweight PDF-editing program for Windows. You get a 14-day trial of PhantomPDF before having to pay for it, which lets you try out all the premium features to see if they’re right for you.

Click 'Open File' and choose a PDF. Click 'Edit Object' and choose Image to edit images – PhantomPDF helpfully shows you an outline of the image as you drag it. 

Alternatively, click 'Edit Text' then click a text box to edit words on the page. Alongside the usual tools, you can add bookmarks, links and even insert videos.

 8. How to edit a PDF with Sejda

Sejda (opens in new tab) is another excellent pick when it comes to online PDF editors. Not only is this free, but it has a host of other tools, letting you convert, compress and split PDFs; there’s even an OCR reader.

When you're on the website, click 'PDF Editor', then ‘Upload PDF file’. Once done, you’ll see a toolbar of options at the top of the screen, letting you add or edit text, add forms and images, sign pages and more. There’s also a paid-for desktop client if you’d rather not edit in your browser.