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6 Ways To Edit PDF Without Acrobat [2023]

Productivity Boost
Avatar of author Fred Melanson

Fred Melanson

Published: Wed Aug 30 2023

If we lived in the 2010s, and asked anyone the question - How to edit PDF without Acrobat?

People would think you’re crazy! 😵‍💫

In the past decade, when it comes to PDF editing, Adobe Acrobat would be the go-to solution for every business and individual. It used to be the only tool to edit PDFs quickly and accurately.

Not anymore. Companies have come up with better and enhanced PDF editor software.

In this article, we will show you the best methods to edit PDF without Acrobat and list the factors you must consider before crafting your new PDF editing process.

How to Edit a PDF without Adobe?

Editing PDFs without Adobe Acrobat has now become easier than ever. Modern features, faster loading speeds, and sleek UI have made PDF editing interesting and efficient.

Let’s now see how to edit a PDF without Acrobat, flawlessly. The first method of editing PDFs is with Macro ( disclaimer: this is our tool ).

Macro is a one-stop shop for all your PDF editing needs. In the latter part of the article, we will walk you through methods that leverage MS Word, Google Docs, and other tools to edit PDFs.

Method #1: Editing PDFs with Macro

Step 1: Download the Macro Application

Visit Macro’s website and click on download. Select the app variant you want to download depending on your computer’s version, and wait for the file to download.

Step 2: Opening PDF in Macro

After downloading, open the Macro app and click ‘Open a PDF or DOCX file.’

Select the PDF you want to open and click on ‘Open.’

Step 3: Editing the PDF

Once the PDF opens in Macro, click the small edit icon on the top left menu bar.

As soon as you click on it, you will get several editing options for free.

The best way to see these features in action is by downloading the Macro app and trying them out yourself.


  • Macro doesn't have an online PDF editor just yet. If you want to use Macro, you must download the application (just like Acrobat).
  • Some features like Comparing and offline mode editor are only available on the paid plan. But our free version is more than enough to make comprehensive edits to your PDFs.

Method #2: Editing PDF in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is the default document editor software for all Windows devices. To edit PDF in Microsoft Word, you must first convert the PDF into a Word document.

Here’s how to do it 👇

Step 1: Opening PDF in MS Word

Open MS Word and select the PDF you’d like to open.

You will see a pop-up similar to the image below 👇

This is where opening PDF in Word is beneficial. It automatically converts the PDF into a Word document for you to edit. Click ‘OK’ and proceed to the next step.

👀 Note: It might take some time for MS Word to convert the PDF into a Word doc, depending on the size of the PDF.

Step 2: Editing the PDF in MS Word

Click on the ‘Enable Editing’ option that appears at the top of the document.

Now you can use each and every feature of MS Word to edit your PDF. You can change color, font, and size. Update line spacings, indexing, and much more.

Step 3: Saving the Word Doc back to PDF

Once you've made all the changes to the Word Doc, it's time to save this document as PDF. To do so, click on File :

In the left-side menu bar, click on ‘Save as.’

Select the folder you want to save the file in. Rename the file (if you wish to) and choose 'PDF' from the Save as type drop-down.

And just like that, you have successfully edited a PDF file in Word and saved it on your device.


  • To access Microsoft Word's editing feature, you need a subscription to Microsoft 365. Without it, you can only view files on the base version of the software.
  • When you open a PDF file in MS Word, the format might get disturbed. Some images might change their positions, and the text style in your PDF might not load. You may also face some issues when converting Word files back to PDF (generally happens with older versions of MS Word).
  • A PDF with background images or solid colors sometimes fails to register text, meaning you can't edit the content.

Despite the limitations, Microsoft Word is still one of the most widely used ways to edit a PDF without Acrobat, especially if your organization uses Microsoft Office.

But what if you’re not a Microsoft user? 🤔

Method #3: Editing PDF in Google Docs

Editing PDF documents in Google Docs is a direct alternative to editing them in Microsoft Word or Adobe. There are only a few extra steps involved.

Step 1: Uploading the PDF on Google Drive

Begin the process by uploading the PDF on Google Drive. To do so, log in to your account and click the "+ New" button in the top-left corner to upload the PDF.

Step 2: Editing PDF in Google Docs

After uploading the PDF on Google Drive, double-click to open the PDF’s preview. Inside the preview, click ‘Open with Google Docs.’

Step 3: Editing in Action

After clicking on Open with Google Docs, you can use every feature of Docs to edit your PDF. You can edit the textual content, add or remove images, change the fonts, and much more.

Step 4: Saving the Google Doc as PDF

After editing, download the file in ‘.pdf’ format and you have an edited version of your PDF at hand in no time.


  • Like Microsoft Word, your PDF's format might distort in Google Docs as well, but the chances are comparatively lower.
  • Compatibility issues in the page layout, hyperlinks and interactive elements, or special characters and symbols. Thus increasing editing time.
  • If you used MS Word to make your PDF and then upload it to Google Docs to edit it later, some features like comments, track changes, or macros might not work.

Using Google Docs is easy and highly accessible. Anyone can quickly create a Google account if they don't have one yet (which is extremely unusual) and start editing the PDF in Google Docs.

If you want an even easier but slightly limited method, the next one is for you.

Method #4: Editing PDF through Preview on Mac

If you own a Mac, you don’t need any software to perform basic edits on PDFs. All you need is Mac’s default PDF viewer.

Step 1: Opening PDF on Mac

To start, open the PDF file on your Mac.

Step 2: Editing PDF on Mac

From the toolbar, go to Tools > Annotate and select the desired edit option.

Step 3: Mac Preview Editing Capabilities

Here are the edit options Mac offers for your PDF:

  • Highlight, underline, and strike-through text
  • Add different shapes like rectangles, ovals, polygons, stars, etc.
  • You can add text boxes and redact text
  • Add a signature to the PDF

And much more…

Step 4: Saving Process In Mac

After editing the PDF, the Mac automatically saves and overwrites the file. In case your Mac isn't able to auto-save. Click on File > Save.


  • The Mac preview option has limited editing features to work with. For instance, you can only redact or add text; You can not edit the current text.
  • To adjust the layout and fine-tune the PDF post editing, you need a tool like Google Docs or MS Word.

For those who don’t own a Mac, there’s still one more method to try.

Method #5: Editing on Source Software

For this method to work, you must have access to the software used to create the original PDF you plan to edit.

The method of editing a PDF on source software is commonly used by teams working in the corporate world.

That's because many of these software let you collaborate with your team and edit PDFs simultaneously, making the process quick and efficient.

You can change font style and size, add/remove images, modify fonts, add background elements, and the list goes on…

Furthermore, you can suggest changes by adding comments, just like in Microsoft Word. Some source tools also offer design capabilities equivalent to Adobe.


In this method, the process can vary depending on the software you’re working with.

But the general process remains the same.

You request access to the source file and the software itself.

Followed by making all sorts of changes.

You can then export or forward the edited PDF to your team, users, or anyone else.


  • The process is only quick and efficient if you work in teams and need bulk edits in a short time span.
  • The tools might need upgrades or premium subscriptions to access collaboration features.

What Factors Should You Consider When Choosing an Alternative to Acrobat PDF Editor?

People often shy away from using the Adobe suite because of the hefty subscription fee.

That doesn't mean that any free or cheap alternative for Acrobat is your go-to solution.

Here are some factors that you should consider when choosing a PDF editor.

#1. Service Quality

The most powerful way to judge if a tool is the right one for your business is by using its features and observing how comprehensive it is.

Most options focus on basic features. But, if you're looking for something specific, you need to work with a tool that allows you to take PDF editing to the next level.

For example, the default editor on Mac allows you to remove backgrounds, whereas some tools like Google Docs don't. Conversely, Google Docs can help you align your PDF, and Mac preview can't.

Trying out free editors is the only way to know what works best for you.

#2. Ease of Use

Sometimes, it's all about getting the task at hand done. If you only need to get basic edits done, you don't need complicated software.

An easy-to-use tool like Macro can help you edit  PDFs quickly and get on to the next one.

Pawning this task off to an intern? Might as well tell them to use software they know or is delightful to use.

#3. Cost

Many tools allow you to edit PDFs for free. But if you need a more comprehensive tool, you will have to put some money on the table.

If you’re on a tight budget, finding the right balance between the money you spend and the set of features you want is crucial.

Macro brings the best of both worlds by having a free version for major PDF edit options. And if you want to kick things up a notch, you can subscribe to the paid version for advanced productivity capabilities.

Read and Edit Documents Faster with Macro

Gone are the days when Acrobat was the best tool in the market to preview, read, and edit PDFs.

The methods and PDF editing tools mentioned above are all simple to follow and require equal, if not less time than editing a PDF on Adobe Acrobat Pro.

If you want features like Acrobat but don’t want to use Adobe for whatever reason; download Macro and get started for free.

Avatar of author Fred Melanson

Fred Melanson

Fred leads Growth at Macro. He is a passionate generalist in the Product-Led GTM space, with experience in content creation, marketing strategy & sales. His LinkedIn has over 1M views yearly, and his Vlogs generate hundreds of thousands of views. His favorite thing in the world is walking with his dog, Lola 🐶
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