The Best PDF Editor for Mac in 2017: Options + Reviews

Last updated: Jan. 22, 2017

When it comes to editing a PDF file on Mac, you have two choices — upload the PDF to an online tool like PDFEscape, or use a Mac application.

While online services have their own advantages and are usually free (though some may have certain restrictions), we assume you've already known or have tried out. Thus, we are not going to talk much about them.

Instead, we want to show you the best PDF editor software for Macs. After all, you are a business person who needs to handle PDF documents on a regular basis. Desktop software is more convenient to use, and more likely to improve your productivity.

Here are some powerful yet affordable Mac PDF editor apps for macOS.


Software Name

Support macOS Sierra?

App Pricing

Our Rating







**Below, you'll find our expert reviews, but you can also click the links above to get each software and start trying out. Note: the programs are for Mac users only, if you use a PC, see our review of best PDF editors for Windows.

How to Edit PDFs on Mac: Online Tools vs Desktop Software?

There is no absolute answer, but here's our take.

If you are in a hurry, and you only have several non-confidential PDFs to alter, go for online PDF editing tools. Simply open a web browser, Google "free online PDF editor" and click one to enter its website, upload your PDF file and start editing. Warning: we highly recommend you not to upload any private or confidential documents due to security concerns. Because your PDF files are going to uploaded elsewhere in the cloud you can't control or access.

If your documents are important, and you only have minor editing tasks such as: add signature, comment, merge/split pages, etc.; We recommend you to try Preview — a free built-in app in macOS that allows you to edit images and PDF files. Learn more from this Apple support guide.

How about Adobe Acrobat for Mac? It's great, but our main concern is its price — $300 direct purchase (or $15 per month if you go with subscription), we feel it's still too expensive. Plus, you can get almost all similar features from other PDF editors we recommend below, while paying much less.

Best PDF Editor App for Mac: What to Look for?

The following factors are what we consider to narrow down the list to come up with our favorite tools. They are, however, by no means the industry standards.

  • Security: all downloadable software must be 100% virus-free and malware-free. Though Macs are more secure than Windows PCs, recent news reveals that Mac OS X isn't safe any longer due to crapware and malware threats. Therefore, we make sure the PDF editor programs we recommend are clean and safe. We test them by running a scan with MalwareBytes Antivirus for Mac.
  • Basic/Advanced Editing Features: by basic, we mean the software can do editing tasks like annotation, add/delete pages, form filling, highlighting, and so forth. Advanced editing features include: add a password, create links, export PDFs to other document formats, etc. Bottom line: a good PDF editor software should allow you to achieve additional tasks beyond what Preview or online tools offer.
  • OCR Support: This is important because if a PDF editor doesn't support OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology, it can't deal with scanned PDF files because they are essentially images. OCR is able to extract all the content in a scanned PDF file and export objects into editable texts or graphs. The software that integrates OCR technology will save you lots of headaches when it comes to editing scanned PDF documents.
  • User Interface: Another factor that makes desktop software superior to online tools. If you've used some online PDF editors, you probably feel the navigation and operation are not smooth. You need a lot of back and forth to make the change to a desirable level. A great PDF editor software should make it hassle-free and enjoyable during the editing process.
  • OS X Compatibility: The software should also be able to run on latest macOS Sierra and be compatible with some previously used OS X versions. If it can't, it would be a waste of your time to download and install it on your Mac. Besides, a PDF editor app that keeps updating tends to be trustworthy and reliable.
  • Help/Support: We value these PDF app developers that provide helpful tutorials and guides to facilitate customer using experience. Also, it's ideal that users can reach out to them via email, phone, live chat, etc. for any concerns or questions.

The Best PDF Editors for Mac (2017)

The software we recommend below have passed our testings based on the criteria listed above, and we are happy to recommend them because we see the values in the products.


It's more than a PDF editor, but also a PDF converter and creator. In short, PDFelement is probably the ultimate solution you'll need to deal with PDF files. The app exhibits a lot more than most other alternatives including Acrobat. Also, the app interface design is incredibly sleek. PDFelement also handles scanned PDF files perfectly with its add-on OCR technology which supports recognizing up to 9 languages, according to its developer Wondershare.


PDFpen is another powerful and easy-to-use PDF editor for Mac users. It provides a lot useful features to meet almost any standard editing tasks. The Pro version is even more powerful with extra features like form-building tools, more flexible export options, permission controls and more. Both basic and pro versions include OCR and they allow you to accurately convert scanned PDFs and directly edit on them. The program also has an iOS version. So if you are looking for a constant companion in your daily workflow, PDFpen is the one to go.

Disclaimer: our Mac PDF editor reviews are based mostly on 1) our experience using and testing the trial and full versions of the software and 2) the basic information provided by each provider often as available on its own official website and 3) the expertise of PDF software experts with whom we consult. As such, please remember that the above recommendations are our own opinions. We highly encourage you to do your own research and testing before making a decision. Also, do not over spend on tools that you don't need.

Andreas is an Apple and Microsoft fanboy who works with his Mac and lives with a PC at home. While he is not reading technology journals, you’ll probably find him playing online games with friends or hiking in the wild.

2 thoughts on “The Best PDF Editor for Mac in 2017: Options + Reviews

  1. HI Andreas,

    My husband and I have recently started a business as licensed commercial financial brokers. We will be handling secure documents on a MAC. Do you know if the PDFpenPro will be a secure option for this?

    Any advice you can give us will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

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