OS X Preview does most of what I need for PDF files, but would also like to be able to edit PDF forms (not just fill them in).

I have found a huge number of so-called PDF alternatives, apparently all of which are better than the rest. Very few actually indicate that they can edit forms. Oh, and many of them are expensive (though probably cheaper than Acrobat).

Can anyone recommend a PDF editor which edits forms, but doesn’t charge too much for features I don’t need.

I am trying to avoid Adobe products in general, mostly for their subscription pricing.


  • What exactly do you mean by "edit" the forms? Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 15:11

3 Answers 3


First and foremost: DO NOT use Preview.app to fill forms; it does an excellent job damaging the form beyond repair when saving it.

That said, I am not aware of any software allowing to edit PDF forms on Mac besides Acrobat Pro (I may be wrong on that, wouldn't be the first time). (there may be a version of Foxit, but I don't know how well they support editing forms, and Foxit (pre-sale) support has not answered some specific questions, which makes me doubt about their seriousness).

It is possible to create (but not to edit the PDF, after you have created it) PDF forms with OpenOffice/LibreOffice. There are limitations (some field types are apparently missing, no or very limited logic and actions available), but for a first step, the results are pretty good.

FWIW, Acrobat DC Pro is available as an eternal license.

  • Just tried Foxit for OS X and it doesn't support filling in forms. Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 18:18
  • Note that you can use LibreOffice create a form, save it as a document for later editing if needed and export it to pdf - so basically you have the editable form template and send out the pdf. Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 7:28
  • Good grief! Acrobat DC is one expensive product!
    – Manngo
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 11:40
  • Acrobat DC is dirt cheap… It all depends on how it is used, and what you would have to pay for a comparable alternative (which may include custom development).
    – Max Wyss
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 12:28

The pdftk server is available for OS-X, and other platforms, and it can:

  • Merge PDF Documents or Collate PDF Page Scans
  • Split PDF Pages into a New Document
  • Rotate PDF Documents or Pages
  • Decrypt Input as Necessary (Password Required)
  • Encrypt Output as Desired
  • Fill PDF Forms with X/FDF Data and/or Flatten Forms
  • Generate FDF Data Stencils from PDF Forms
  • Apply a Background Watermark or a Foreground Stamp
  • Report PDF Metrics, Bookmarks and Metadata
  • Add/Update PDF Bookmarks or Metadata
  • Attach Files to PDF Pages or the PDF Document
  • Unpack PDF Attachments
  • Burst a PDF Document into Single Pages
  • Uncompress and Re-Compress Page Streams
  • Repair Corrupted PDF (Where Possible)
  • PDFtk Server does not require Adobe Acrobat or Reader, and it runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

The price - free but commercial support is also available for $79/pa if required. It is a command line utility that should be in anybody who deals with pdfs toolbox. For Windows users only there is a pdftk pro which adds a gui.

There is an on-line man page and several examples and at the price it has to be worth checking out - it has always done what I wanted it to do - quickly and without fuss.

  • so, does it what the OP asks for?
    – Max Wyss
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 13:46
  • @MaxWyss - It is not 100% clear what the OP wishes to change about the forms - if it is splitting, appending, filling, watermarking, extracting the data & possibly reinserting it after editing then yes it does. Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 15:10
  • To me it is quite clear that we are talking editing forms, and not just filling. Editing means adding or modifying fields and their properties, as well as adding or modifying logic.
    – Max Wyss
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 21:29
  • @MaxWyss - Editing can mean changing an existing form, changing the data in an existing filled form or creating new forms. Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 6:31
  • Read the first sentence in the OP… that should be quite clear, shouldn't it be?
    – Max Wyss
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 7:55

PDF Expert for Mac has a free trial and a paid version that isn't too expensive. It seems to handle AcroForms and XFA (for the limited testing I did). It even has some support for the format, calculation, and validation scripts that can be embedded in PDF forms.

  • If PDF Expert for Mac has equal features as PDF Expert for iOS, it is a choice for using forms. For creating and editing, it would not be sufficient. Note: PDF Expert for iOS is the leading app for working with PDF forms on iOS, and it allows for relatively useful forms.
    – Max Wyss
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 21:35

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