How to edit PDF on Mac

To edit PDF on Mac, the quickest and easiest option is to use the built-in Quick Look tool that was added to macOS with the release of Mojave in 2018. Quick Look lets you edit PDF files on Mac for free, without needing dedicated software.

The PDF format is one of the most commonly used text document formats in the cyber world, and it has the well-known property of being somewhat tricky to edit. While you can simply open a .doc or .docx file (two other very popular text file formats) and start editing them right away with pretty much any text editing software, editing a PDF file may not be as straightforward and oftentimes requires specialized software. However, since macOS Mojave’s release back in 2018, the Quick Look tool that comes preinstalled on Mac computers received the function to perform some simple, yet important edits in PDF files.

In the next lines, we will show you how you can use Quick Look to make changes to PDF files for free and without the need for installing third-party software. However, if you want to perform more advanced edits, getting a dedicated PDF-editing third-party app may be necessary (there are plenty of such apps, both free and paid, on the Internet).

Editing PDF files on Mac with Quick Look

Quick Look allows you to preview the contents of a wide variety of file formats without needing a dedicated app to open them. After the release of macOS Mojave, Quick Look also became able to perform different edits to PDF files.

It must be said that you cannot expect any super-advanced editing features from Quick Look, yet some of its PDF-editing tools may still surprise you. Below, we will go over the main edit options you get with this tool, and we will show you how to use them. For starters, here’s how to open the PDF-editing tools of Quick Look:

  1. Go to the PDF file you want to edit and select it.
  2. Press the Spacebar button from your keyboard – a preview of the PDF file should appear on your screen.
  3. Click the pencil-shaped icon (labelled Show Markup Toolbar) at the top of the Preview window – this will put the Preview (Quick Look) tool into editing mode.
  4. To make changes to the PDF file, choose one of the tools at the top of the preview window and use them to make the desired edit.

Now we will give you a quick rundown of the different tools available in the Quick Look/Preview PDF-editing mode.


These two tools do nearly the same thing – they allow you to use your trackpad or Bluetooth mouse to draw anything you want on the PDF file. The Sketch tool lets you draw with lines that have the same thickness, whereas the Draw tool changes the thickness of its lines depending on how long you hold your click on your Trackpad/Mouse.


Text is likely one of the most useful PDF-editing tools of Quick Look – it lets you type text within the document and change its formatting (though the text formatting options are limited). Here is how to use it.

  1. Open the PDF file with Preview/Quick Look and go to the editing mode (the pencil icon).
  2. Click the icon with a “T” ()placed in a rectangle.
  3. A text box should appear in the document – you can change its size and shape by clicking on one of the dots on its sides and dragging them in a chosen direction.
  4. You can also change the position of the textbox – simply click, and hold the click, anywhere on the textbox except the dots on its sides used to change its size, and then drag it to where you want it to be.
  5. To type in the textbox, simply click in it and begin typing.
  6. To change the formatting of the text, highlight the text in the box, then click the “Aa” icon () from the top, and make the desired format changes.
  7. If you want to change the thickness of borders/frame of the textbox, click the icon with three horizontal lines () and choose the border thickness and type you prefer.
  8. You can also change the color of the borders/frame of the textbox – click the rectangle icon with thick white borders from the top () and make any changes to the color of the textbox’s borders that you want to make. If you want there to be no borders, choose the first (no-color square ) from the color options.
  9. Lastly, to change the fill color of the textbox, click the colored rectangle icon () and choose the color you want.

Copying text from PDF

The Quick Look tool also enables you to easily copy any text from a PDF file – all you’d need to do is open the file, select with your mouse the text you want to copy, right-click it, and select Copy (or press Command + C) – it’s simple as that!

Adding signature

Another very cool function that Quick Look offers is the option to add your signature to a PDF file using your trackpad or camera. Here’s how:

  1. Open the file you want to sign with Preview/Quick Look and click the pencil icon to enter editing mode.
  2. Select the Sign icon () and choose whether to use your trackpad or camera for the signature.
  3. If you selected the trackpad option, simply draw/write your signature on your trackpad using your finger or a stylus. After you are done, press any key from your keyboard to save the signature.
  4. If you selected the camera option, as per the on-screen instructions, grab a piece of white, clean paper, write your signature on it, show it to your Mac’s camera (it’s preferable for the room you are in to be well-lit) and hold the piece of paper like this until your Mac detects it and forms a signature. Then click Done, and the signature will be created.
  5. To use the signature you’ve created, click the Sign icon again, and simply click on your signature. It will appear in the document, and then you can drag it to where you want it to be.

  6. To create a new one, click the Sign icon, and click on Create Signature.
  7. If you want to delete a signature, click the Sign icon, hover your mouse over the signature you want to erase, and click the X button that appears next to it.

Other tools

There are several other interesting, though not as commonly used tools that are available in Quick Look Preview, so we will briefly mention them here:

Redact: This tool allows you to select text in the PDF file and redact it out of the document. Once redacted, the text appears as blacked-out and cannot be recovered.

Shapes: This feature lets you draw some simple shapes (squares, arrows, triangles, circles) in the document. It also has a cool magnifying glass function that lets you enlarge certain parts of the text.

Notes: The Notes function lets you place sticky notes on the document itself – they will be saved in the document and can serve as reminders, comments, etc.

Highlighter: The Highlighter tool is actually not in the Edit (Markup) Toolbar – it is always shown at the top. When you click it, it gets activated and from then on, you can highlight any text in the document by simply selecting it. To remove the highlight from it, select it again or right-click it and select Remove Highlight.