How to Erase in Preview: A Guide to Deleting Text in PDF Documents

If you’re a Mac user, you’re probably familiar with Preview, a simple and free program that comes built into your operating system. Preview can do a lot of things, including signing documents, annotating documents, and highlighting documents. However, one thing that Preview can’t do easily is delete text in your PDF.

This is why many PDF software options on the market charge such high prices for their services. But, there is a crafty little workaround that you can use in Preview to delete text, which might actually solve your problem. Here’s how:

Step one is to go over to the “draw” command in Preview. Click on that and then start drawing white over anything that you want to delete. Or, if your PDF’s background text is a different color, use that color. When you’re done deleting your text, which really feels kind of like you’re just redacting it, you want to export your PDF in a way that makes sure no one can delete this drawing that you made.

To do this, go to “file,” “export as PDF.” This will make sure that your white drawing that you put over the text gets locked in completely. Voila! You’ve deleted your text.

But, if what you’re really looking for is a way to just backspace through your text like you would in a Word document, or since we’re talking about Mac, a Pages document, you’ll need a paid PDF app to do that.

Apps that we recommend include PDF Pen Pro, PDF Expert, and even Adobe Acrobat, for which you can sign up for a 30-day trial every time you need it. Sorry, Adobe. And if you need it for multiple PDFs, just keep on using dummy email accounts.

So there’s our little hack in case you don’t want to spend $60 or more for a real PDF program that can delete text any way you want it. But if you know of any other fancy ways to do this, or you have a tech emergency of your own, jump in the comments and tell us about it. We will happily answer your questions in a new edition of Tech 911.