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How to Edit PDF in Google Docs and Good Google Docs Alternatives to Better Edit PDF Files

"Hi, I heard Google Docs is able to edit PDF documents. Is it true? If it is, then how to edit a PDF file on Google Doc? In my impression, it’s a tool to create and save documents on the Cloud, not edit documents." - Sarah

Like Sarah, have the same question? Your landing on the page means you wish to learn more about how to edit PDF files with Google Docs. But it’s not possible to edit PDF files in Google Docs now and it’s exclusively designed for file sharing. However, you can turn to Google Drive for help and edit PDF files in Google Drive with the help of Google Docs. Let’s see how you can edit common and scanned PDF right now. And also there are shortcomings for Google Docs to edit PDF, we will collect better alternatives for your reference.

Part 1: How to edit common PDF in Google Docs

In fact, it’s very easy to edit common PDF in Google Drive with Google Docs. Here is the step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Upload PDF files to Google Drive

Go to Google Drive and log in with your account. Upload your files by clicking on the Upload icon.

edit pdf in google docs

Step 2: Open with Google Docs

Then right-click on the file you upload and select Open with->Google Docs.

google docs edit pdf

Step 3: Edit PDF files in Google Docs

Now, you can edit the words in the PDF file. Only that you are actually editing the words that are extracted from the PDF file.

edit pdf online google

Part 2: How to edit scanned PDF with Google Docs

We are talking about how to edit common PDF with Google Docs in the last part. But what if your PDF files are scanned ones? That cannot be done by Google Docs and you can only turn to Google Drive for help. In that situation, you will need to first set up Google Drive to OCR your PDF files and then open the file to edit directly. Here are the details.

Step 1: Set up Google Drive

First open your Google Drive and go to Settings->Upload settings. Select the options of Convert text from uploaded PDF and image files and Confirm settings before each upload.

google docs pdf editor

Step 2: Upload your files

First open your Google Drive and go to Settings->Upload settings. Select the options of Convert text from uploaded PDF and image files and Confirm settings before each upload.

edit pdf google docs

Step 3: Edit Scanned PDF files

Open the uploaded file and you can edit the file directly. You are also editing the extracted words from PDF files.

Part 3: Three Better Google Docs Alternatives for Editing PDF files

Found it very easy to edit PDF files with Google Docs? But there are also shortcomings. For example:

  1. Sometimes, you are not able to open the PDF files with Google Docs so that you cannot edit it.
  2. You are not actually editing the PDF files in Google Docs. Just Google Docs recognizes the texts in your PDF files and copy them to its Google Docs so that you can edit the words.
  3. The format or images of the PDF files are not retained.
  4. There are more editing functions that are missing in Google Docs, like adding pages, deleting pages and more

Since Google Docs are not actually editing PDF files but only the words, if you are looking a tool that does exactly the job of editing PDF files, you should turn to the following three tools.

3. All-in-1 PDF Solution – Wondershare PDFelement

Wondershare PDFelement is a comprehensive solution to PDF creation, editing, conversion, PDF form editing & filling. It is a desktop PDF editing tool. It has separated version for Windows PC and Mac respectively. Learn more about Wondershare PDFelement (Windows).

Wondershare PDFelement free trial version is available to download!

Download Win Version Download Mac Version

A watermark will be added to files saved with the trial version!

Main Features for Wondershare PDFelement

  • To insert text or modify text, click the Home menu, and then click “Edit Text”. Move mouse to the PDF file where you’re going to insert text, double-click the text block to enter the newly text.
  • To add blank pages, images, bookmark, link, or watermark to a PDF file, click the Insert menu to select the corresponding tools to carry out the editing.
  • To manage PDF pages, Wondershare PDFelement offers you several options: Delete Page, Extract Page, Crop Page, Merge Document, Split Documents, etc.


The above mentioned 3 Google Docs alternatives, I prefer PDFescape and Wondershare PDFelement. PDFescape offers more features than a usual online PDF editing tool. And to edit personal PDF documents, Wondershare PDFelement is better. After all, it's a desktop app which keeps PDF documents safer.

2. The Free Cloud-based PDF Editor – CutePDF Editor

CutePDF Editor is a free online PDF editing tool. Like Google Docs, it’s also a Cloud-based tool. Now it allows you to extract, rotate, resize, delete, crop PDF pages, and insert blank pages. From its features, you can find that it is a tool focuses on editing PDF pages. Until now it has not provided any text and objects editing features yet. Learn more >>

google docs alternative to edit pdf

3. Free Online PDF Reader – PDFescape

PDFescape is a free online PDF Editor. With it, you can add text, images to PDF files, crop, move, delete, insert PDF pages, and protect PDF contents using a password. Learn More >>

google docs alternative to edit pdf



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