Read-Only? Here’s How to Create an Editable PDF

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The portable document format (PDF) was created by Adobe co-founder John Warnock. Its purpose: to help people send documents without the need for printing. Unfortunately, he fell a little short of his dream because pdf documents are not very user-friendly.

PDF documents tend to start as Word documents or Google docs. This makes pdf documents difficult to edit if you don’t have the source file. We feel your pain.

Lucky for you, we’ve done the dirty work, and we’ll teach you how to create an editable pdf, even if you don’t own the source file.

How to Create an Editable PDF

Finding a great PDF editor that converts all formatting seamlessly are hard to find, but here are a few tools you can use to create and edit pdf documents.

Adobe Acrobat

I know what you’re thinking: Adobe is the one that got me into this problem in the first place. We understand. That’s why we are going to show you a few different ways to go for pdf to editable pdf.

You have two options with Adobe Acrobat:

  • Purchase the standard or pro version of the editor
  • Sign-up for the 7-day free trial

Here is a step-by-step process to edit your pdf with Adobe Acrobat.

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat.
  2. Go to File and locate Open.
  3. Select Edit PDF in the right pane.
  4. Click on the text or image you would like to edit.

If you want to change the text, but that text isn’t loaded on your computer, you won’t be able to edit the text, only the color and font size.

One positive to using Adobe Acrobat is that it’s available for both PC and Mac users.


Good news Mac users, if you’re looking for a program that can help you create an editable pdf document, or to edit and existing pdf document, Setapp is a great resource!

It is a suite of apps exclusively for Mac users that is offered for $9.99 per month and comes with a 7-day free trial. Setapp comes with 170+ apps, including PDFpen and Prizmo. Both are excellent apps that can help you edit pdfs.

With Setapp, you can even combine or merge two pdfs seamlessly.

One important thing to mention is that unlike other PDF editors, Setapp converts formatting seamlessly.

The editor tools allow for the editing of text, images, and more. If you work with macs exclusively and work with pdfs regularly, Setapp is a must-have!

Microsoft Word

A great option for PC users who have Microsoft Word 2013 or later, you can use Word to edit an existing pdf.
It is worth noting here that some of the formatting may not convert to Word. For instance, tables with cell spacing, font effects, and form fill-in features will not carry over to Word.

This adds new hassles of reworking the document, but if you don’t mind, Word may be your option of choice.

You can follow these steps to edit an existing pdf document:

  1. Open Word and click File.
  2. Click Open and Select the PDF file you want to edit from the document window.
  3. A message will appear saying that Word will convert your PDF into an editable document. Click OK.t
  4. Make the changes you want to the document and then click File>Save to save as a PDF.

Again, any formatting like tables, special font effects, and form fill-in features will not carry over to Word. You will have to reformat it.

Google Docs

Google Docs is available to both PC and Mac users who use Google Chrome. Google Docs works similarly to Word when creating editable PDF documents.

Also like Word, Google Docs cannot convert formatting like tables, fonts, and background images. Your edited PDF may lose some quality from the original unless you can reformat it.

To edit a PDF in Google Docs follow these steps:

  1. Log into Google Drive. Click New in the upper left-hand side.
  2. Select File upload.
  3. Select the PDF you want to edit from the document window and click Open.
  4. Click Recent to find the PDF file you uploaded.
  5. Right-click on the PDF file and select Open With>Google Docs.
  6. A new, editable Docs file will be created.

While this is an easy option, formatting will not convert from the PDF to Google Docs unless it is strictly text-based. However, if formatting doesn’t matter, this may be a good option since it can be shared with link sharing.

PDF Editors

Finding PDF editors where you can edit, add or modify images, sign your name, or fill in forms are hard to find. There are some online PDF editors you can use with your web browser to edit your PDF and save it back as a file to your computer.

Unfortunately, not all PDF editors are created equal. Not all editors will offer the same features, and some may lose formatting options from the original PDF. Nonetheless, some online PDF editors will work for most users.

One PDF editor you may want to consider is Sejda PDF. It allows you to edit text and images online.

To edit a PDF in Sedja PDF follow these steps:

  1. Click PDF Editor.
  2. Click Upload File and select the PDF you want to edit from the document window.
  3. Edit the color, size, and text with Sedja PDF editor.
  4. Click Apply to save changes.

One drawback of Sedja PDF editor is that because it is free, it has a cap on the file size you can upload for free. Also, the premium option is rather expensive, but for small documents, this is a handy tool.

The Choice Is Yours

Now that you know a few of the PDF editing tools out there, and you know how to create an editable PDF, you are ready to choose which tool is best for you.

Depending on your needs, one may be better than another. If you are a mac user, we highly recommend Setapp for its ease of use, low subscription cost, and total value from all of its apps.

For more information on this topic and more, keep checking back on our blog.

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