How to Open a Mac PDF File in Preview

PDF files are one of the most popular formats to save a document. They are often laid out like a book with pages you can scroll through. They can contain graphics, images and even clickable URLs (website addresses).

You have no doubt come across a PDF files many times, probably without realising it. For example, if you are anything like me and never have a clue where on earth you stashed your all important instruction manuals, then during a time of crisis or confusion you have probably turned to the trusty world wide web to download a fresh copy for the problem appliance. The online PDF instruction manual will look identical to original paper format, with multiple pages, images and graphics.

You can easily read PDF files on any brand of computer. Even if the PDF file was originally created and saved on a Windows machine, an Apple Mac could still download and read it with no problems. As PDF are so mainstream your computer should come with a pre-installed program that can read them.


Read PDF on Mac with ‘Preview’

Apple Mac computes come with a nifty pre-installed app called ‘Preview’. Alongside many handy functions such as taking a quick look at images, Macs Preview can open and read PDF files.

How to Open a Mac PDF File in Preview


How to Open a Mac PDF File in Preview

Bellow is a list of simple pimple instructions on how to use Apple’s default PDF Reader Preview.

1.) Choose the PDF you would like to open up and read.

2.) Double click the PDF files icon, wait a few seconds and the document should automatically open up in your Macs Preview app.

Crazy simple I know!


My Mac Can’t Read PDF files?!

Apples Preview app is pre-installed and should always be on hand to help you read a PDF, if however there is an error in the app or you have accidentally deleted it, then follow any of these tips…

1.) Download the ‘Preview’ app again from the Apple App Store.

2.) Install another PDF reader from online. There are loads of PDF readers swarming around the web, some good basic free ones (like Preview) and other high tech professional ones that enable youth easily edit the PDF files, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader and Acrobat Pro. Just make sure it is compatible to work on a Mac. Click here for more information on Macs Preview and the poshest PDF reader Adobe Acrobat Reader and Acrobat Pro.

3.)  Perhaps there isn’t a problem with your Preview app but one with the PDF file itself. Before you gallivant off and give yourself a headache over which new Mac PDF reader to download, check to see if Preview is still working by opening a trusted PDF file.

For loads more articles on the wonders of PDF files, what they are exactly, what are the best Mac PDF readers on the web, how to edit them and more… please check out are Mac Nerdy Mac PDF tutorial category.

How to Edit a PDF Document on Mac

While PDF documents are a brilliant type of file as they allow you to save a file as like-for-like (including images, graphics and even hyperlink web site addresses) they can be a bit of a paint to edit. For more information on PDF files, please see our article ‘What is a PDF Document?’

Opening up and reading a PDF file is one thing, editing is quite another as unfortunately most pre-installed PDF readers will only allow you to carry out basic alterations. However if you need to edit PDF files often you could consider investing in a more professional PDF reader such as Adobe Adobe Acrobat Read and Acrobat Pro, which allows you to get very creative with your PDF files.


Why Would you Want to Edit a PDF Document on Mac?

There are endless reasons why you may wish to edit a PDF document on your Mac. PDF files maybe contracts and therefore you may wish to admen some of the clauses and even upload your virtual signature. PDF files are a great way to save and send eBooks, perhaps someone has started typing the a new glob trotting trilogy and would like your opinion. You could edit the PDF and add suggestions in bubbles and highlight mistakes with arrows.


Using Preview to Edit PDF Documents on Mac

how to read a pdf on mac

If you are lucky enough to own a luxurious Apple Mac computer then the handy Preview app can hopefully satisfy your PDF editing needs. With Mac Preview you can annotate a file by adding an array of symbols such as arrows, thought and speech bubbles and even the all important text boxes. It also allows you to add bookmarks, strike through dodgy text and underline key phrases.

Mac preview is ideal if ever a friend or college sends over a PDF document they are in the middle of creating, hoping for some of your wisdom and constructive guidance to be showered on it. Perhaps they are writing an Word document. They could simply save their draft as an PDF and send it over to you via email. Then you could proceed to open up the PDF in Preview, annotate it with helpful comments and opinions and then attach the amended copy to an email and send it back over at the touch of a button.

Who knew PDF’s could be so versatile and useful?!

Tip: While there are some really great ways to edit an PDF document, if Mac Previews editing options are enough for your needs, then resist the urge to splash the cash buying an expensive pro PDF editor.


How to Add text to PDF on Mac


1.) Open your Preview app. Usually you can do this instantly by simply clicking open the PDF document you wish to edit.

how to edit a pdf on mac

If however that does not work, then open up your Mac Preview app by clicking on the related icon from either your Mac dock (if it is in there) or your Launchpad. You will then need to open up the PDF file you wish to edit by sleeting File>Open>’file name’ from the Preview toolbar.

2.) At the centre top of the Preview window you will notice three buttons. To bring up the PDF editing options please select the third button, which looks a little pen and paper.

3.) You will then be presented with several editing options. Click through them to get an idea of the tool and features available.

4.)  If you wish to put text on a PDF then click on the icon displaying ‘Aa’. Then click on your PDF document in the spot you wish to write. A text box will appear allowing you to type away.

Tip: You can change the size, position and style of your font if you fancy getting a little creative.

Best Programs to Read and Edit PDF Files on Mac

Why are PDF Files so Great…

PDF documents (also known as ‘Portable Document Format’ if you want to be really fancy) are one of the most popular ways to save files on both Microsoft Window and Apple Mac computers. One of the main reasons PDF files are the preferred choice is because they can save documents in a like for like way. For example if your document contains images, trendy graphics, swish typography and even hyperlinks (clickable web addresses), a PDF file will save it and keep the same format.


How to Read a PDF

Originally created by Adobe back in 1991, PDF files are now widely used on all types and brands of computers. So no matter if you created a PDF file on a Mac machine, a Windows user will still have no problem downloading and reading. You do however need a special program or application to read a PDF file on your machine. Your computer should come with an application already pre-installed, but if for some reasons it doesn’t, the app is not working or you have accidently deleted it during a vigorous hard drive clean, then you can download a new one from the web…

The web is inundated with so many different types of PDF readers and editors. But which one comes out on top and most importantly which good programs are free? Depending on your needs, such as editing (editing a PDF can sometimes be tricky), you might decide on a paid application.


Firstly lets look at the ‘FREE’ options and their pros and cons:


I’m an avid fan of Mac’s default application ‘Preview’. It is a fantastic free and easy way to read PDF’s, although the option for in-depth editing is unfortunately currently not available with this free App.

how to read a pdf on mac


  • Great for viewing/reading PDF’s for free!
  • Automatically installed on your Mac so no download needed. (If you have accidently deleted it then you can get a copy from Apples App store).
  • Also View images – edit size, rotate annotate etc
  • It’s Free!


  • Limited editing features like the paid programs
  • Mostly used as read and view
  • Lets have a little more in-depth look into Mac’s default PDF viewer Preview.

Preview opens PDF’s, Images and many other types of documents. It will allow for minimal editing which can be quite effective depending on your needs.

Were you aware that you can easily transfer (or drop) a PDF file into Microsoft word or a pages document? You basically drag the PDF into your open word document or even PowerPoint and it will then be imbedded. There are countless applications and programs where you can do this, if you are uncertain just give the drag and drop method a go and you might be surprised it worked 🙂


Adobe Acrobat Reader and Acrobat Pro

The cream of the crop at creating and editing PDF’s is ‘Adobe Acrobat Read and Acrobat Pro’. Despite is rather long mouthful of a title anyone who is a creator will want this application on their computer! The best part is that it doesn’t cost a penny for the basic version, if however you like the advanced options on apps you’ll have to splash the cash to have the Pro version however many users will agree it is worth it for the advanced editing features it offers.

read a pdf file

Pro’s for the Pro

  • Advanced Editing for your PDF’s
  • Create professional PDF’s


  • The Pro version is a paid App.

How to Create a Signature in Preview

Creating signatures on PDF Files using Preview

To open up a PDF file on your mac double click the file you want to open. Or another way would be too drag the pdf file onto the preview image on the Dock.

Most Mac folks know how to open up a PDF file in preview but it’s another thing adding and creating a signature. Complicated? Nah not really, But once you know how it’s a very handy skill to have and comes in extremely useful when needed.

 How to Create a Signature in Preview

So, How to create a Signature in Preview?

Easy peasy…

Use these easy step by step options:

 1) Click preview > then preferences and choose ‘Signatures’ from the menu and then it should say create signature. You can opt to create a signature from the pop up menu in the edit tool bar at the top of your screen.

2) Now just follow the given instructions on your screen. Remember to make sure that your signature fills the whole box and it sits on the blue line.

3) When you’re happy with how you signature in preview looks like, just click the accept button and off you go!


Wondering How you sign a PDF file?

1) In the Preview toolbar click ‘Edit’.

2) From the menu shown find where it says signature and then choose your signature.

3) Choose the locations option for where you’d like your snazzy new signature to appear on your PDF document. If you decide you want to place your sig on a line, cleverly Preview will resize your signature to fit necessary.

So there you have if a basic tutorial on creating and adding a signature on a PDF document in Preview 🙂

Interested on how to add and create images in Preview? or perhaps scanning in images, adding text and editing tools, please see our other useful articles published on our website.