How to Edit a PDF in Google Docs and Other Alternatives

Make your PDF files more engaging and collaborative with our tool!

  • Download AcePDF and hit the "Open" button to import the PDF docoument you need.
  • Afterward, head to the upper menu to access the editing tools, like page, comments, protect, and more.
  • Lastly, modify the PDF and take advantage of the tool. Then, hit "File" to save the finished file.
feature edit pdf in google docs

Editing PDF files has traditionally been challenging due to their inherent non-editable nature. Luckily, a famous cloud-based productivity suite called Google Docs now provides a practical and straightforward method for altering PDF files directly from within its interface. Google Docs allows you to transform PDFs into editable text documents using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology, making it simpler to update and amend the information. You can change text, photos, and other document components by uploading a PDF file to Google Docs. This covers text editing, formatting, adding or removing pictures, and even adding hyperlinks. With the ability for multiple users to edit the same PDF file at once, Google Docs' collaborative features further improve the editing process and promote effective document management. If you want to edit PDF in Google Docs, this article will give you the best answer. We presented a detailed guide on using Google Docs and other advanced tools you can use as an alternative. Moreover, follow along as we dive into the depth of PDF editing!

Navigation of Contents

PDF Software Comparison

1. Google Docs

Google Docs is a powerful online tool that allows users to create, edit, and organize documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. It is a cloud-based platform that enables easy collaboration between multiple users and the ability to access documents, including PDFs, from any device. With real-time editing, commenting, and suggestion mode features, Google Docs is popular for personal and professional use. It also offers a range of templates and add-ons to enhance productivity and streamline workflow. Also, multiple users can simultaneously view and edit the same PDF, which is ideal for collaborative projects. Overall, you can easily manage PDF files in Google Docs. It is a versatile and convenient tool for creating and sharing documents.

google docs interface


  • It automatically saves versions of the PDF, allowing you to monitor changes and revert to previous versions if needed.
  • It provides various sharing options for PDFs, including link sharing, specific user permissions, or embedding in websites.

  • The tool lacks advanced PDF editing features, like complex layout adjustments and graphic editing.

2. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

You can effortlessly generate, edit, and distribute PDF files with the robust PDF editor Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. Thanks to its comprehensive range of features, it's the ideal solution for anyone who frequently works with PDFs. Furthermore, the app provides the tools to complete the task quickly and effectively, whether altering text, adding images or graphics, arranging pages, or building forms. Additionally, because of its seamless connection with other Adobe Creative Cloud products, sharing PDFs between various platforms and devices is a breeze. Besides, compared to when you convert PDF to Google Docs, it only supports Word format. Meanwhile, this tool can convert PDF files to other formats like JPG, HTML, PPT, and more with this tool.

adobe acrobat pro dc main interface


  • The tool has an OCR feature to transform scanned documents into editable text for easy editing.
  • It maintains the layout and formatting of PDF documents while editing to preserve the original structure.

  • The app has a learning curve, especially for users who need to become more familiar with Adobe products or only need basic PDF editing.

3. Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a versatile and powerful program widely used for creating and editing documents, just like how you edit and save PDF in Google Docs. While it is best known for its Word-processing capabilities, it also includes various features for working with PDF files. With Microsoft Word, you can easily open and edit PDFs, add comments and annotations, and even convert PDFs to Word documents for further editing. Also, you can navigate through the pages, zoom in and out, and search for specific text within the PDF. Whether you need to make minor changes to a PDF or create a new document from scratch, Microsoft Word is a trusted and reliable tool.

microsoft word interface


  • It is convenient to convert a PDF file into a Word format (.docx) using Word for more thorough editing.
  • You can rearrange, insert, or delete pages within a PDF document with Word to modify the page order or structure of the PDF.

  • While Word allows for basic text editing, its support for non-text content, such as images, graphics, or multimedia elements in PDFs, is limited.

4. AcePDF

If you want to use something other than the Google Docs PDF editing tool, use another professional software like AcePDF. This feature-rich software offers the best tools to edit and beautify PDF documents. From basic to advanced features, the software caters them all. Its "Editing" tab lets you modify the text of the PDF. You can insert or remove text, change its alignment, font, size, and color, add a header and footer, and more. Besides, the "Comment" tab allows you to highlight text and add sticky notes, text boxes, callouts, and comments for easy collaboration. Meanwhile, AcePDF supports the OCR function to convert the file into other modifiable formats, including PPT, Excel, TXT, and more.

acepdf main interface


  • The software can process multiple PDF files in different tabs for easy access for each of them, making it more convenient than opening them individually.
  • It allows you to do a batch conversion for many PDF documents in one click to save time for the process.
  • You can add images within the file and modify them by rotating, cropping, or placing them on any page you like.

  • The app’s mobile version is only applicable for viewing PDFs.

How to Edit a PDF in Google Docs

Now that you have learned the comparison of the most recommended PDF software in the market, you also need to know how to use them. Here is a detailed guide on using Google Docs as a PDF editor, one of the best free online tools in the market.

Step 1 Upload and Convert PDFs

First, open Google Drive on your web browser and log in with your verified Google account. After that, drag and drop the file into the Drive to upload it. You can see the upload process in the bottom-right corner to see if it is completed. If so, click the “Recent” menu on the left side to locate the PDF quickly. Once done, right-click the file and select “Google Docs” from the menu.

upload file, right-click it and select open with and google docs

Step 2 Edit Text and Images

Once you select “Google Docs,” the file will be automatically converted to Word format and opened on Google Docs. You can now edit the text by changing the font, font styles, colors, and more. In addition, you can hit the “Insert” tab on the top menu and pick “Image” if you want to add images. Then, you can upload from a computer, search the web, and more.

hit insert and image button, select image source

Step 3 Insert Links and Bookmarks

You can see other options to insert into your PDF on the same tab. For instance, you can click the “Link” option and enter the link you want to add. Also, you can hit the “Bookmark” button to add a bookmark on a specific page or text so you can instantly navigate into them.

hit link and bookmark button

Step 4 Collaborative Editing Features

Next, head to the “Tools” tab to see other collaborative features for the file. You can use the word counter, review suggested edits, compare documents from the original, add citations, and more. Once done editing, you can hit the “File” button on the upper menu and the “Download” button. Then select your preferred format and the file will be saved on your device. That’s how to edit PDF in Google Docs easily.

google docs tools tab

Advanced Way to Edit PDF Files

There are only limited editing features that you can get by using Google Docs to modify your files. For instance, its annotation features are less robust than those of dedicated PDF editors like AcePDF. Also, it lacks native OCR support, making it complicated to edit scanned PDFs directly. So if you need a more comprehensive PDF editor without watermark for your PDFs, we recommend using AcePDF. Furthermore, you can rely on the walkthrough below to learn how to use its different features.

Try it for Free

Step 1 Install the Advanced PDF Editor

Tick the “Download” button to get the software’s installer before this step. Afterward, go along with the installation instructions to save the app on your computer ultimately. Finally, launch the PDF editor and begin analyzing its main interface.

acepdf main interface

Step 2 Import File and Start to Use OCR

Next, drop your PDF file directly into the software to import it quickly. Once done, hit the “Tools” button on the upper main menu and hit the “OCR” button. The OCR feature allows you to convert the scanned PDF to editable text. You can select the “Standard” mode for quick conversion. Also, you can use the “Enhanced” mode for a higher-quality conversion. Meanwhile, you can modify other settings like pages and languages. Then, tick the “OK” button to start.

acepdf ocr settings

Step 3 Redacting Sensitve Information

In this feature, move to the “Protect” tab on the upper menu and hit the “Mark ciphertext” button from the options. After hitting that button, select sensitive information or text from the PDF and hit the “Apply ciphertext” button beside “Mark ciphertext.” Then, hit “OK” from the prompt that will arise to redact or remove sensitive and private information.

hit protect and mark ciphertext, select text. click apply ciphertext and ok button

Step 4 Add Signatures and Annotations

On the same “Protect” tab, you can hit the “Handwritten” or “Digital” signature button if you want to add your signature to the file. Besides, you can move to the “Comment” tab to see all the annotation tools. Here, you can use the highlight, underline, text box, shapes, sticky notes, and other annotations to make your PDF more interactive.

hit comment tab and insert annotations

Step 5 Convert PDFs to Other Formats

To convert the PDF to other formats, tick the “Tools” tab and select the “PDF to Office” dropdown icon to see other options. For instance, depending on your preference, you can pick Word, Excel, PPT, TXT, HTML, and Image. After that, tick the “Convert” button from the new window that will appear to start the process.

hit the tools button, select format

Step 6 Keep the PDF Document

Once done, the converted file will be directly saved on your device. On the other hand, the original file will remain on the tool, where you can continue editing it. Then if you have completed the editing process, you can tick the “File” menu on the top-left section and pick your chosen saving option to save the modified PDF.

hit file and select saving option

Other PDF Editors You Should Try

1. pdfFiller

Various functions and tools for altering PDF files are available on the internet platform known as pdfFiller. It enables you to quickly edit and alter PDF files to suit your needs. A PDF file also allows for adding, removing, or rearranging pages. Additionally, the tool is reliable for text editing, formatting changes, font size adjustments, and font change options. Annotation tools for PDFs are available from PDFfiller. Text can be underlined, highlighted, strikethrough, or added with sticky notes to particular portions. This function is helpful for document evaluation and collaboration. On the other hand, you can check the steps of pdfFiller below if you don’t want to use the Google Docs PDF editing tools.

User Guide:

  • Access the official website of pdfFiller from the above details and familiarize its landing page. Then, the tool will ask you to log in to your email to access all its features.
  • After logging in, the PDF editor tab will appear. You can tick the “+Add new” button in the middle to add the PDF file you want to edit. Once added, you can navigate to the top menu to see the editing tools.
  • Then, you can edit the text, add images, highlight parts, watermarks, annotations, and more. Finally, click the “Done” button on the upper-right section and select the “Save as” button to store the modified PDF.

pdffiller interface

2. PDFelement

PDFelement is a desktop software you can use on Windows and Mac computers. This tool boasts many helpful features, including annotation, creating, editing, and converting PDF files. For example, you can add, remove, and extract text and images from PDF. Also, you can customize the file by adding a watermark, background, callouts, bookmarks, arranged pages, and other essential elements. Moreover, PDFelement supports advanced OCR features to easily convert scanned and image-based PDFs to editable and searchable formats. That includes TXT, PPT, Excel, HTML, and more. Besides, it supports the document cloud service, allowing you to access your documents anytime. Since PDF editing in Google Docs is limited, you can use PDFelement with the guide beneath.

User Guide:

  • Get the app’s installer by clicking the anchor text above. Then follow the on-screen guide to download the tool successfully. Afterward, open it and tick the “File” button on the top-left part to select a PDF you want to import.
  • Next, let the PDF load and appear on the tool’s editing interface. Once done, you may modify your file using the menu from the upper tab. You can click the “Edit” button to alter the text elements.
  • Also, you can hit the “Page” button if you need to arrange or delete pages. Meanwhile, click the “Form” button to add interactive forms, like check box, radio button, list box, and more. If you are done with the editing, hit the “File” button again and choose the “Save” or “Save as” button to store the file.

pdfelement ocr interface

FAQs About Editing PDFs on Google Docs

1. Can I edit scanned PDFs in Google Docs

Unfortunately, Google Docs doesn’t support scanned PDFs. So if you want to edit and save PDF in Google Docs, you must first convert the file into editable PDF or Word format. Then, you can add the converted document to Google Drive and launch it with Google Docs. Although it is a bit of extra effort, that is the only process to make the scanned PDF work on Google Docs. However, remember that editing PDFs on Google Docs has limited features. But if you want basic editing, it is indeed a good choice.

edit pdf in google docs faqs

2. Is Google Docs a secure platform for editing sensitive PDFs?

Google Docs offers a certain level of security for editing documents, including PDFs. However, your individual requirements and threat model will determine whether it is secure enough to edit critical PDFs. Nevertheless, you may choose who can see, modify, and comment on a document by adjusting the sharing options for your Google Docs files. This aids in limiting access to those with permission. Additionally, Google Docs maintains a version history of your documents so you can trace changes and go back to earlier versions as necessary.

edit pdf in google docs faqs

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