April 2, 2021

iPad Pro: Working with PDFs.

A how-to with no pricey apps involved.

PDFs have always been a pain to work with. That’s because Adobe created them as a final format and that makes them pretty much uneditable. Unlike a word processor document, you can’t go back and make complex changes to a PDF on any device or in any app. What your iPad (and iPhone as well) can reasonably do is create, mark up, remove pages and send PDFs.

Yearly subscription rates for PDF editor apps can run in the range of $60 annually, but I’ve limited the how-tos to below free and built-in Apple apps, like Books and Files.


Here’s how to:

Create a PDF

Save an email as a PDF

Rename a PDF

Combine PDFs

Delete a page from a PDF

Markup a PDF

Fill in a PDF form and email it

Add a PDF to an email

Add a PDF to a message

Move a PDF from Books to Files

Determine if a file is a PDF


How to create a PDF.

Many built in and free Apple-created apps can create a PDF, as can many third-party note and word processor apps.

In Notes:

  1. With the note open, tap the More icon (three dots).
  2. Tap Send a Copy.
  3. Tap Print at the bottom of the list. (If you want to save specific pages, set the page range).
  4. Pinch open on the preview and a larger preview appears.
  5. Tap the Share icon (square with up arrow).
  6. Choose Copy.
  7. Choose the Share icon.
  8. Choose Save to Files
  9. Choose where you want the PDF to go.

In Pages:

  1. With the document open in Pages, tap the More icon (three dots).
  2. Tap Export.
  3. Tap PDF
  4. Tap Share
  5. Choose where you want the PDF to go.

### In Photos:

  1. With photo open in the Photos app, tap the Share icon (square with up arrow).
  2. Choose Print.
  3. Pinch open on the preview and a larger preview appears.
  4. Tap the Share icon.
  5. Choose Copy.
  6. Choose the Share icon.
  7. Choose Save to Files.
  8. Choose where you want the PDF to go.

This creates a PDF with the photo inside.


How to save an email as a PDF.

  1. In the Mail app, tap the email in the list.
  2. Tap the Reply icon (arrow up and to the left)
  3. Tap Print at the bottom of the list. (If you want to save specific pages, set the page range.)
  4. Pinch open on the preview and a larger preview appears.
  5. Tap the Share icon (square with up arrow).
  6. Choose Copy.
  7. Choose the Share icon.
  8. Choose Save to Files.

How to rename a PDF.

You can do this in both Books and Files.

In Files:

  1. Tap on the title of the file you want to rename.
  2. Type the new name.
  3. Tap Return.

In Books:

  1. Tap Edit in the list where you have the file.
  2. Tap the three dots to the left of the PDF you want to rename.
  3. Tap the Share icon.
  4. Choose Rename from the list.
  5. Add the new name.
  6. Tap Rename.

How to combine PDFs.

This combines multiple PDFs into one.

In the Files app:

  1. Create a folder and put in all the PDFs you want to merge.
  2. Tap Select.
  3. Tap Select All.
  4. Tap More.
  5. Tap Create PDF.

To control the order, rename each document alphanumerically and set the four squares icon to Name.


How to delete a page from a PDF.

This is a cumbersome process, but can be done without having to pay for a pricey third-party app. The process is:

  • Save a copy of the PDF and keep only the pages that occur before the page you want to delete.
  • Save a copy of the PDF and keep only of the pages that occur after the page you want to delete.
  • Combine the two PDFs.

Save the first half of the PDF:

  1. Move the document to a folder in the Files app.
  2. Tap on the document’s icon to open it.
  3. Tap the Share icon (square with up arrow).
  4. Tap Print.
  5. Tap All Pages.
  6. Choose 1 to the page before the page you want to delete.
  7. Tap Printer Options.
  8. Pinch open on the preview and a larger preview appears.
  9. Tap the Share icon (square with up arrow).
  10. Choose Save to Files.
  11. Choose Keep Both.

Save the second half of the PDF through the same process except Step 6:

  1. Choose all pages after the page you want to delete.

Combine the PDFs in the document’s Files folder:

  1. Tap Select
  2. Tap the two files labeled …2 and …3 to select them.
  3. Choose More.
  4. Choose Create PDF.

How to markup a PDF.

Your iPad has a great set of tools to markup your pdfs.

In Files:

  1. Open the PDF.
  2. Tap the Markup icon (pen) on the top right.
  3. Set the tool by tapping the Tool icon on the bottom left.
  4. Do your markup.
  5. Tap Done.

In Books:

  1. Open the PDF.
  2. Tap the Markup icon (pen) on the top right.
  3. Set the tool on the Markup toolbar on the bottom.
  4. Do your markup.
  5. Tap Done.

How to fill in a PDF form and return it with email.

Using Apple Pencil you can open, edit and markup without leaving the Mail app:

  1. Hold your finger on the form in the email.
  2. Choose Markup and Reply.
  3. Choose the pencil and desired color from the toolbar. You can also pinch out to explained text fields to make it easier to write with Pencil.
  4. Tap Done.
  5. Tap Reply or Reply All.
  6. Send the email as normal.

Using the Keyboard requires Adobe Fill and Sign. It’s free.

  1. Hold on the form in the email
  2. Choose Save to Files and pick your location.
  3. Open Adobe Fill and Sign.
  4. Tap Select a form to fill out.
  5. Tap File Browser and choose the form you saved.
  6. Create a typing field on the form by tapping to the right of field’s name.
  7. Type and repeat with each field needed.
  8. Tap Share.
  9. Tap Mail.
  10. Address and send.

How to add a PDF to an email.

When composing an email in the Mail app:

  1. Move the cursor to the spot in the email where you want the PDF.
  2. Tap again and choose Add Document from the contextual menu.
  3. Choose the documents from the Files app.
  4. Send as you normally would.

Some email browsers may display attachments at the end of the email rather than shown inline.


How to add a PDF to a message.

  1. From the Files app, open the document.
  2. Tap the Share icon (square with up arrow).
  3. Tap the Messages icon.
  4. Address and send as normal.

How to move a PDF from Books to Files.

From the Library in the *Books" app:

  1. In the list, tap the three dots to the right of the PDF.
  2. Choose Save to Files.
  3. Choose the folder and tap Save.

How to determine if a file is a PDF.

PDF attachments in Mail are well marked, but not so in the Files or Notes app. You have to dig.

In the Files app:

  1. Open the folder of the document.
  2. Hold in the document’s icon.
  3. Choose Info.

In the Notes app:

  1. Choose the folder where the PDF lives.
  2. Tap the More icon (circle with three dots inside) on the top left.
  3. Tap View Attachments.
  4. You’ll find your document at the bottom of the list under Documents. If it’s a PDF, it’ll be shown.


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