Need to edit PDFs? You may well already have the necessary software installed!

PDF icon on laptop

This is not so much news, more of an FYI. Some of you will no doubt roll your eyes and mutter "d'oh, yeah" at the screen, but for anyone who has been looking for a quick and easy way to edit PDF files we have a tip. You may not know that the software you need to edit PDFs could already be sitting on your hard drive.

The humble PDF has become so ubiquitous that there are endless ways to create them from just about any app, and an increasing number of programs support the option to save document in the PDF format. You're probably aware that Microsoft Word can be used to create PDFs, but did you know it can also function as a PDF editor?

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Yes, you did read that correctly. Microsoft Word can be used to edit existing PDFs as well as creating new ones from scratch. It's not a solution that is perfect, and certainly not one that is advanced as the likes of Adobe Acrobat, but it's a decent option that will serve day-to-day PDF editing needs -- and it's certainly more convenient that using an online editor that requires you to upload and download files.

PDF editing in Word requires no add-ons, and you don't need to enable any special settings. Just hit File > Open, click Browse, make sure that either All Files or All Word Documents is selected, and then load up the PDF you want to work with. You'll see a message that reads:

Word will now convert your PDF to an editable Word document. This may take a while. The resulting Word document will be optimized to allow you to edit the text, so it might not look exactly like the original PDF, especially if the original file contained lots of graphics.

Click OK to continue, and the PDF will load in Word. Depending on where the original PDF came from, you may need to click the Enable Editing button in the info bar that appears at the top of the document, but then you're free to edit to your heart's content.

When the time comes to save, you will need to save the document as a new PDF -- it is not possible to directly edit the original file.

Note: this has been tested in Word 365. It may also work in older versions.

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