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How to Edit PDF in Google Drive (3 Easy Ways)

Mar 1 2024

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Seamlessly edit PDFs without leaving the comfort of your Google Drive.

If you and your team work with a lot of PDF files, you may be looking for a solution for your document workflow that’s unrestricted by server, hardware or software.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Google Suite was on your list. But is PDF editing holding you back? Connect your PDFs to Google Drive for the ultimate productivity hack, and we'll guide you through the process of:

  • Editing PDFs in Google Drive using Google Docs
  • Editing PDFs in Google Drive with a PDF Editor
  • Editing PDFs in Google Drive on your Mobile

Follow along as we show you how to integrate PDFs into your Google Drive workflow.

How to edit a PDF in Google Drive using Google Docs (Basic)

The most common way to edit PDF in Google Drive is by using Google Docs, which is a basic workaround for general edits.

To edit your PDF in Google Docs, follow these steps:

1. Upload the PDF file to your Google Drive.

2. Once the file is uploaded, right-click on it.

3. Select Open with > Google Docs.

Note: this method is a workaround that automatically converts your PDF to an editable Google Doc.

4. Use the editing features from the toolbar to modify, add, or remove any content needed.

5. When done, download the newly edited PDF by going to File > Download > PDF Document (.pdf).

Editing PDF with Google Docs

You’ll notice that if your PDF had complex formatting, images, or unique fonts, they may not have transferred over accurately.

If your focus is on getting the formatting right while making complex edits, we’ve got a more advanced and direct way to edit PDF on Google Drive.

How to edit PDF in Google Drive using a PDF Editor (Advanced)

You can use Xodo – an advanced PDF editor to perform all sorts of PDF editing directly in Google Drive.

Simply install the Xodo Google Workspace App while logged into your Google account. Then follow the steps below:

1. Upload your PDF to your Google Drive.

2. In Google Drive, locate your file and right click on it.

3. Click on Open with > Xodo – Edit, Convert & Merge.

4. Use any of the advanced editing features from the drop-down menu. You can annotate, redact, insert images and links, crop out margins, edit and update text, fill in forms, and even sign your PDF.

Editing a PDF on Google Drive with Xodo

When you’re done editing your PDF, you can download and save the file to your Google Drive again, directly to your device, or even Xodo Drive.

If you like using Xodo in your Google Drive, know that you can also access Xodo tools on the web. Ideal for times when you can’t access or log into your Google account.

How to edit a PDF in Google Drive on mobile

Another option you have is to edit your PDFs on your phone. The editing options offered with this method will be limited, however, but here’s a look at the process depending on the operating system.

How to Edit a PDF in Google Drive on Android

1. Tap on the Google Drive icon on your phone to open the app.

2. Browse for and locate your PDF document.

3. Tap on the three vertical dots beside the file name and tap on Open with > Drive PDF Viewer.

4. Tap on the edit icon in the bottom right-hand corner.

Editing PDF in Google Drive on Android

You can then access the annotation toolbar with an annotation pen tool for freehand writing and a highlighter tool, both of which can be customized.

5. Once done, tap on the Save copy button and select where on your Google Drive you wish to save your PDF.

How to Edit a PDF in Google Drive on iPhone and iPad

1. Tap the Google Drive app on your iOS device to open it.

2. Find the PDF file you want to edit and tap the three dots on the right of the file.

3. From the options displayed, tap on Open in > Save to files. Select a location and save your PDF.

4. Then go into the Files app on your device and locate the PDF. Long press on the file’s icon and select Markup from the context menu.

You can then use the markup tools available from the toolbar to annotate your PDF.

5. Tap on Done when you’re finished. The original PDF in Google Drive remains untouched, though, so if you’d like to keep only the annotated version, upload the PDF back to Google Drive and replace the original.

As you can see, these methods are only ideal if you’re looking to make small edits and notes. When it comes to fully editing your PDF as needed, you’ll need more advanced apps.

And this is where Xodo steps in. It’s cross compatible with an Android app and an iOS app available. You’ll get a full PDF editor to add text, annotate content, fill in PDF forms, and more on your phone!

Benefits of Editing PDF in Google Drive

Using Google Drive to edit your PDFs comes with a lot of perks that complement any digital document workflow you’re currently working with. Check out a few:

Online access: As a document editing app, Google Drive is easily accessible with an account and the internet.

This means you can still meet document review deadlines and urgent approvals on PDF contracts, even if you aren’t at work.

Affordable: A Google account is free – an ideal price for a quick and easy-to-use online app to finish off a draft or collaborate around a professional PDF document. And you can scale up if you need more storage or an account for your entire company.

Collaboration: When working on drafts or reviewing content as a team, collaboration is everything. Luckily, Google Drive files are shareable as PDFs and can be sent to different colleagues.

Online Storage: With a free account, you get 15 GB of cloud storage – plenty of space for large PDFs. And being able to access your files from anywhere, your PDF editing workflow becomes smoother, faster, and more efficient.

Commonly Asked Questions

What else do you need to know about editing PDFs in Google Drive?

We’ve got some answers to the most common questions you may have.

Will I lose formatting when I edit a PDF in Google Docs?

Yes, it is possible. When you open your PDF from Google Drive with Google Docs, the file gets converted to the Google Docs format.

When it does, the formatting, fonts, and spacing don’t convert over properly, leaving you with content that may not be identical to the original.

Does Google Drive have a free PDF editor?

No, Google Drive doesn’t have a native free PDF editor app. However, you can use quick workarounds to edit PDF like using Google Docs to open and then edit your PDF.

In addition, there are Workspace apps, such as Xodo, that can be installed to provide you with more advanced PDF editing capabilities.

Can I fill out PDF forms in Google Drive?

Yes, you can fill out PDF forms in Google Drive using its built-in PDF viewer. Simply open the PDF form in Google Drive, and you should be able to type directly into the form fields and checkboxes.

If the form is not fillable, you can use a PDF editing tool like Xodo to make the PDF editable and create a fillable form before filling it out in Google Drive.

Is it possible to highlight and draw on PDF in Google Drive?

Yes, Google Drive does offer basic annotation features that allow you to highlight and draw on PDFs. You can use the "Markup" tool in Google Drive.

It will let you annotate PDFs by highlighting text, adding comments, and drawing shapes. However, the options for annotation may be limited compared to a dedicated PDF annotation tool.

What else can Google Drive do with PDFs?

Google Drive is versatile enough to let you perform a few other PDF tasks. You can convert PDF to Google Docs format and save a Google Doc as PDF.

No matter what you need to do with your PDF, you can use Google Drive to help you connect your PDF workflow online.

Streamline your Google Drive workflow with Xodo

Being able to edit PDF with Google Drive is a simple yet powerful skill to have – and you can now take your pick from using either Google Docs, Xodo, or your mobile device. 

Not only that, but you’ve got Xodo to take care of the advanced PDF tasks, letting you annotate, edit text, and collaborate easily on PDFs.

If you're a student polishing an assignment or a professional fine-tuning a report, add Xodo to your Google Drive workflow and streamline your PDF tasks instantly.

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Reena Cruz

PDF Productivity Expert

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