iOS 15: How to Edit a PDF on iPhone Using the Files App

When it releases to the public in the fall, iOS 15 is going to bring a ton of new features to Apple’s mobile operating system that should help you use your iPhone better. We’ve seen visible improvements for NotificationsWeather, Spotlight, PhotosFaceTime, Apple Maps, Safari, and Find My but that’s not just it. To enhance your productivity, the next version of iOS 15 will also make editing PDFs as easy as ever.

We have already explained how iOS 15’s Drag and Drop functionality helps getting work done efficiently and how you can now print any document to PDF instantly. In this post, we’ll help you understand how to edit PDFs using the Files app on your iPhone. 

What do you need?

The new editing features are exclusive to devices running on iOS 15. Since iOS 15 can only be installed on iPhones as a developer/public beta for select iPhones, you may be unable to use these new features until its stable build rolls out in the fall of 2021. If you’re really curious about the new iOS 15 features, you can go ahead and install iOS 15 on your iPhone but we’d advise against doing it since you may encounter bugs and issues that might affect your daily productivity.

To know which version of iOS your iPhone runs on, open the Settings app and go to Settings > General > About > Software Version.

How to enable the Edit mode on PDF files

The Files app inside iOS has been a nifty feature on iPhones but if you’re dealing with PDF files, you wouldn’t find it helpful as its feature set only included the ability to view, share, and mark up PDFs. There was no real way of editing pages in a PDF on an iPhone unless you used a third-party app for it. This changes in iOS 15, as Apple has added a new editing mode for PDFs inside the Files app. 

Before you get to the editing mode, open the Files app on your iPhone and select a PDF file you want to edit.

When the PDF file opens in fullscreen, swipe away from the left edge of your phone (left to right) quickly. 

This should bring up the editing mode for the PDF file, showing you all the pages available in a document in a thumbnail view in a sidebar on the left. 

Note: The gesture to swipe from the left edge can tend to be problematic at times. If not done quickly, it will open the previous document/file inside the Files app. 

Once inside the editing mode, you can start making changes to the PDF however you want by following the instructions below. 

How to Edit PDF Pages using Files app

Once you’re inside the editing mode, you can start making changes to the file. 

Rearrange pages within a PDF file

The new editing mode lets you move pages from one location to the other inside the same file so that you can rearrange them according to your liking. To do this, tap and hold on a page you wish to move and then start dragging it until the overflow menu disappears. 

Once the page is draggable, move the page to a location where you want it to appear inside the PDF file. Once you’ve dragged the page to the preferred location, lift your finger to rearrange it. 

Repeat the above steps to rearrange other pages in a PDF. 

Rotate Pages in a PDF document

You can rotate individual pages in a PDF to make it seamless when it comes to reading or viewing it in the future. This will be important for those scanned documents you saved on your Files app without formatting.

To rotate a page inside a PDF, enter the editing mode and locate the page from the thumbnails on the left sidebar.

You can bring up the option to rotate by:

  • Tapping and holding on a page
  • Or, selecting a page and then tapping on the 3-dots icon inside it

This will bring up an overflow menu with options to edit the PDF. Depending on how you want to rotate the page, select either ‘Rotate Left’ or ‘Rotate Right’ from this overflow menu.

You can rotate it 180 degrees by tapping either ‘Rotate Left’ or ‘Rotate Right’ twice. 

If you have no further changes to make to the PDF file, you can save your edit by tapping on ‘Done’ at the top left corner. 

Add a Blank Page to PDF

When working with PDFs that have several pages, you may sometimes feel the need to add a blank page, either to be used as a separator or to add more details to the document. If you wish to add a blank sheet to a PDF file, you need to enter the editing mode and from the left sidebar, locate the page after which you want to add a blank page. 

To add a blank page after it, tap and hold on the selected page to get additional options. You can also select this page and tap on the 3-dots icon inside it to get them. 

In the overflow menu that appears, select the ‘Insert Blank Page’ option. 

When you select the option, you should now see a blank page get added right after the selected page inside the PDF file. 

When you create a blank page, the Markup tool inside the Files app loads up automatically to add more details to the document, if you wish to. If you want the blank page to be as it is, you can save the changes by tapping on ‘Done’ at the top left corner. 

Add an Image to the PDF

Besides creating a blank page, you can add a picture from your library as a page inside a PDF document. Before you do this, you need to make sure that you have the image that you want to add available on your iPhone. Now, open the file and enter the editing mode. From the sidebar that appears on the left, locate which page you wish to add the image after. 

To add an image to a PDF, tap and hold on the selected page to get additional options or tap on the 3-dots icon inside a thumbnail after selecting the page. When the overflow menu appears, tap on the ‘Insert from File’ option. 

On the next screen, browse through your library and open the image you want to add by tapping on it. 

The image will now be added as a page inside the PDF file.

If you have no further changes to make to the PDF file, you can save your edit by tapping on ‘Done’ at the top left corner.

Scan a page to add it

If you don’t have an image in your library but instead have the physical copy of the page or document to add to the PDF, you can also add it to the file. First, enter the edit mode and select the page after you which you want to add the scanned copy of a document. 

To add a scanned document to the PDF, tap and hold on the selected page and select the ‘Scan Pages’ option. 

This will load up the inbuilt camera inside the Files app. You can now physically scan the document you can in hand by pointing the camera at it and tapping the Shutter button. 

If you’re satisfied with the scanned result, tap on the ‘Keep Scan’ button at the bottom right corner. You can repeat the step to add more scanned pages to the PDF.

Once you’ve scanned and saved all the pages, tap on the ‘Save’ button at the bottom right corner. 

The scanned pages will now appear inside your PDF file. 

To save the PDF file, you can tap on ‘Done’ at the top left corner.  

Delete a Page

If a document you’re working on has an unwanted page, you can delete it immediately by first entering the editing mode inside the PDF file. 

When editing mode is active, tap and hold on the page you want to remove.

This will bring up an overflow menu on the screen. From this menu, tap on the ‘Delete’ option colored in red. 

The page will now be deleted from the document and you can save your changes by tapping on ‘Done’ at the top left corner.

Undo/Redo changes made

We’re all humans. Sometimes you may make a mistake when making changes to a PDF file. The editing mode allows you to undo and redo changes that are made by you one-by-one as long as these changes weren’t finalized by tapping the ‘Done’ button. 

When editing a PDF file, you can undo or redo changes by tapping on the Markup icon at the top right corner of the screen. 

This will give you options to Undo and Redo as you can do that by tapping the leftward-facing and rightward-facing arrows respectively to make the necessary changes. 

Once you’ve done that, you can quit the Markup mode by tapping on the Markup icon again. 

Use Markup tool to draw, add text, signature, shapes, and magnifying glass

The Markup tool has been present on iOS for a long time and it can do much more than letting you undo/redo changes to a document. You can use Markup to add a text or signature to a PDF, draw and doodle over pages, annotate stuff using shapes and arrows, and also add a magnifying glass to highlight things. 

You can use the Markup tool inside a PDF file without needing to get into editing mode. To bring up Markup, simply open the PDF inside the Files app and tap on the Markup icon again at the top right corner. 

When Markup mode is active, you can make the following changes to your document:

Draw with a pen, highlighter, or pencil: Select from one of the six tools at the bottom to doodle over a page to give it a personal touch. You can also use the erase tool to undo specific changes and the ruler to draw straight lines at a required angle. 

Add a signature or text to a page: You can do this by tapping on the ‘+’ button at the bottom right corner and selecting either Text or Signature. 

What it may look like:

Add a magnifying glass: If you wish to highlight or zoom in to a specific portion of the text, you can add a magnifying glass by tapping on the ‘+’ button and selecting ‘Magnifier’ from the menu. 

Here’s what that may look like:

Annotate using shapes and arrows: You can use the Markup tool to annotate items in your PDF file using boxes and arrows that can be used after you tap on the ‘+’ icon at the bottom right corner. 

Here’s an example:

(Bonus) How to Lock a PDF file

Besides letting you edit PDFs using the Files app, iOS 15 also lets you password protect a PDF file with ease. 

To do that, you need to open the PDF you want to lock from the Files app.

When the PDF file opens, tap on the Share button at the bottom left corner. 

This will bring up the Share Sheet on the screen. Expand this sheet by swiping up on it and then select the ‘Lock PDF’ option. 

On the next screen, you will be asked to set a password for the file. Type your desired password inside the ‘Password’ and ‘Verify’ boxes and then tap on ‘Done’ at the top right corner. 

Your file will now be locked and password protected. When a file is locked, you should see a lock icon inside the file preview.

You can unlock this file by opening it and entering the password that you set for it on the next screen. 

That’s all you need to know about editing PDFs on iOS 15.


Posted by

Ambivalent, unprecedented, and on the run from everyone's idea of reality. A consonance of love for filter coffee, cold weather, Arsenal, AC/DC, and Sinatra.