Edit and Merge PDFs

Learn how to edit PDF files and merge PDF files with this one-page lesson.

Edit and merge PDFs with these free online tools

Adobe PDF documents are one of the most commonly used file types today. If you've ever downloaded a printable form or document from the Web, such as an IRS tax form, there's a good chance it was a PDF file. You may already have Adobe Reader on your computer for viewing PDFs. One reason they're so popular is that they can help to preserve document formatting, which means PDFs look exactly the same on any device. And unlike other file types, such as Microsoft Word documents, most PDFs are intended for viewing, not editing.

However, there may be times when you need to make small edits to PDF files, such as adding a comment or highlighting text. Or perhaps you need to combine separate PDFs into a single file. For example, you might want to combine your cover letter and resume into a single PDF to make sure they stay together. Adobe Reader doesn't have any editing capabilities, and although Adobe does offer PDF editing software—Adobe Acrobat—it's very expensive ($299 for a single license, or $14.99 per month via a subscription plan).

If you can't afford to purchase Adobe Acrobat, or if you just don't need all of the features it offers, there are many free online tools you can use for simple PDF editing. However, many of these tools also display misleading advertisements or ask you to sign up or pay for services you don't really need. We've done our best to weed though these sites to bring you a list of the most reliable and trustworthy tools.

SmallPDF

SmallPDF is really powerful tool that allows you to do just about everything with PDFs except direct editing. For example, you can upload multiple PDF files and then download a combined version as a single PDF file. You can also break up a larger PDF file into multiple documents, compress to make your PDF files smaller, and even convert a PDF to a Microsoft Word document (or vice versa).

Screenshot of SmallPDF

DocHub

If you want to make simple annotations to a PDF, such as highlighting text or adding comments, DocHub is one of our favorite tools. It also allows you add text to documents, which means you can use it to fill out PDF forms. However, you cannot edit or remove any existing text from the file. Do note that you will have to create an account to use these features, unlike Small PDF.

Office Online

If you need to edit the actual text of a PDF file, we recommend Microsoft's Office Online suite (previously known as Office Web Apps). Office Online is a free, simplified version of Microsoft Office that you can access from any web browser. One of its best features is the option to convert a PDF to a Word document.

Screenshot of Word Online

You can then make changes to the actual text of the PDF, add and delete entire pages, and more. When you're done, you can download the file—Office Online can convert it back to a PDF if you prefer. Note that the formatting of the PDF may not always be preserved if you're converting a long or complex document. In our experience, however, we've found this tool to be the most reliable way to actually edit the text of a PDF file online.