Use preview to easily edit a scanned document, PDF or form with Mac

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Following on from this recent article for Windows, I know there’s been a buzz of excitement from the Mac fans in the room who to hear more tips 😉

Well, I hear you guys, and am more than happy to oblige. So here goes, the easiest ways to edit scanned documents, images or PDFs on Mac – and you’ll be amazed at how easy this is!

It often surprises me how many of the features of a Mac are hidden in plain sight. Especially for those of us who made the transition after years of working in a Windows only environment. We just assume that things can’t be done, without really looking into it. When I first discovered the built in PDF editing and document signing features of my Mac, it literally changed my life! How many times have we wasted minutes, even hours, fiddling around trying to tweak documents for clients, drop their signatures into a PDF file or fill in details on an application form. Eventually having to resort to printing the thing out, manually completing it, signing, scanning and sending it back – what a faff!

Well, those days are so over now with the built in PDF editing features of Preview.

Here’s what you do…

Browse to your PDF file or scanned image and open it. By default it should open in Preview, but if not, open it by right clicking on the file and selecting Open With > Preview


Once open, you can edit the file in a number of ways, you can select text and copy it to the clipboard, you can add text to the document or annotate it with text, shapes or colour highlights. You can also add a signature to the document and even reorder the pages. Click the toolbox to show the editing toolbar.

To add text – either for annotating the document or for completing a form

  • Simply click the ‘Text’ icon  to add a text box to your page and start typing. This is perfect for filling in PDF forms or adding text to a page.

To change the size, style, colour or alignment of your text, simply click the ‘Text Style’ icon  and change the settings however you wish.

Bonus Tip! Editing Forms – Did you know that if you are sent an actual PDF form, you can usually fill in form blanks simply by clicking or double-clicking each form field. This also works with most checkboxes in PDF forms.

To add a shape – This can be really useful for highlighting areas of a document, much the way I do for the screenshots in this article.

  • Click the ‘Shapes’ icon  to view a dropdown of the shapes you can inserts, click any shape and it will appear on your page.
  • Click the shape and use the Shape Style icon or Border Colour and Shape Colour icons   to edit the type of line, colour, thickness and highlighting. As an example: you can add an orange arrow by Inserting a line, setting the Shape Style to ‘Arrow’ and colour to Orange.
  • Click any shape and use the blue grab handles to change the size or click and drag the green grab handles to rotate it
  • To move a shape, click on it and hover until a small hand appears then left click and drag the shape to where you want it on the page

To add a note – useful for annotating a document with feedback

  • Click on the notes icon  This will add the note to your page
  • Click on the note and drag it to where you want to add it
  • Click the note again to expand it and you’ll see a flashing cursor, start typing to add your note
  • Right click on the note to change the colour, edit or remove it

 

 

To add a signature – the best bit of all!
You can add a signature any PDF document in just a few clicks with the built in Signature tool.

  • Click Signature icon 
  • If you have already added a signature, click the one you want to add
  • If you want to add a new signature click ‘Create Signature’
  • Sign your name (or the name you want to add) on a piece of white paper then hold it up to the camera on your Mac. Wait a few seconds and the image will appear on the screen.
  • If you are happy click accept and the signature will then be saved in the gallery. Simply click on the name you’ve created to add to your page.
  • Click and drag the signature in position and use the blue grab handles to adjust the size as required

Note: If you have permission from your client to sign on their behalf and they’ve provided you with a digital copy of their signature, you’ll need to add their signature to the gallery the first time by printing it on white paper and holding to the camera. In future, you’ll be able to add their signature just by following the steps above and clicking on the signature you’ve previously created.

So there you have it, edit and annotate PDFs and images and quickly fill in PDF forms, using Preview for Mac – a free and built in feature for all iOS users!

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