How to Edit PDFs using Snagit: A Step-by-Step Guide

The Portable Document Format has been around since 1992. Back in the early 90s, it was not so easy or convenient to share files between different operating systems and devices. Adobe developed the PDF as a means of being able to share and view documents regardless of what platform or device the file was being viewed on. Because of its interoperability, the PDF is still widely used today.

Can Snagit edit PDFs? Snagit does not natively support PDF files; therefore, you cannot open a PDF using Snagit. However, there are several ways to convert a PDF for editing in Snagit. Once you have finished making your changes in Snagit, it can be saved back to PDF.

In this article, we’ll go through step-by-step, the different ways to view and edit a PDF in Snagit. But first a quick note about the PDF format...

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Searchable and Non-Searchable PDFs

Not all PDFs are created equal. In simple terms, there are two types of PDF document - searchable and non-searchable.

A searchable PDF is one where the text and images are selectable. If you hover your mouse cursor over part of the text or an image, you’ll be able to highlight the part of the document you are interested in and copy/paste it to another document. As the name suggests, it is also possible to find search this type of PDF for a word or phrase. As a general rule of thumb, if the PDF was created by either exporting or saving from another file type or application, such as Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or Apple Pages, it will be searchable.

Example of a Searchable PDF

Example of a Searchable PDF

Non-searchable PDFs are the opposite. This type of PDF is a flat image. Regardless of the contents of the file, whether it contains text, images, or tables, none of the elements can be individually selected. Trying to highlight a part of the document results in the whole document being highlighted, as one single image. For the same reason, it is not possible to perform a search for a word or phrase within a non-searchable PDF. These PDFs are usually created as a result of scanning a hard-copy of a document, either using a multi-functional device or your mobile phone.

Example of a Non-Searchable PDF

Example of a non searchable PDF

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Working With PDFs in Snagit

Having explained the different types of PDF, it is worth identifying what you hope to achieve by using Snagit. Snagit is primarily a screen capture tool which creates an image of whatever it captures. The same is true if you are using Snagit to edit a PDF. The PDF must be converted to an image before it can be edited. You can do this using Snagit itself, or using a separate application. However, if your sole purpose is to extract the text from a PDF, then Snagit has a useful feature called ‘Grab Text’.

The ‘Grab-Text’ Feature

You can use the Grab Text feature directly from the Snagit Capture tool or from the Edit menu in the Snagit Editor.

To use Grab Text from Snagit’s Capture tool, have your PDF open on the screen and open the Snagit Capture window. Select Grab Text from the capture options menu and use the cross-hairs to select either the whole PDF document or the area of text you wish to copy. 

Grab Text feature in Snagit

Snagit will then attempt to read the text and display it in a separate text editor window, from where it can be copied.

The Grab Text option in Snagit Editor app

The Grab Text tool is also available in the Snagit Editor if you want to use it with an image already in your Snagit Library. You’ll find it under Edit in the main menu.

Converting PDFs to Snagit an Image File

If you would prefer to edit a whole PDF document, rather than just extract the text, you have two or three options, depending on whether you are on a Mac or PC.

Options for MAC and PC

You can either use Snagit’s Capture feature to convert the PDF to an image or use a separate conversion program. There are several free ones available on the Internet, such as this one. Save the image to your computer as a PNG or JPEG file and open it in Snagit.

To use Snagit Capture application to convert the PDF to an image, have your PDF open on the screen and use either the Full Screen or Region option from the Capture menu.

Options for PC Only

If you are using Snagit on a PC, you have the option of printing the PDF directly to Snagit. Simply click CTRL+P or select Print from the File menu and you should see Snagit as one of the print options.

Print-To-Snagit printer device

Print-To-Snagit printer device

Editing Multi-page PDFs

An issue arises when converting multiple page PDFs. In the two methods I mentioned above for PC and Mac, each page of the PDF document is converted as an individual image. 

Using the ‘Print to Snagit’ available on Windows PC, maintains the multi-page PDF as a multi-page image in Snagit. This is the only method I know of to convert a multi-page PDF to a multi-page image.

To my knowledge, there isn’t a similar option for Mac. Therefore, my hack is to combine the individual PDFs once I have finished working on them in Snagit. More on that at the end of this article.

If you know of a simpler or quicker solution, please be sure to leave a comment!


Smart Move

Having converted your PDF to an image and opened it in Snagit’s Editor, you can now work with it in two ways.

If the aim is to simply overlay Snagit’s tools on top of the image to provide guidance, for instance, then nothing more needs to be done.

However, if you want to edit separate elements within the image, you need to turn on Smart Move. The PDF is a flat image, similar to the aforementioned non-searchable PDF type. By turning on Smart Move, Snagit will attempt to identify the different elements within the image and make them editable. Smart Move can be accessed from the Properties window of the Move tool.

After enabling the Smart Move tool Snagit analyses the image. Once finished, you should be able to hover over different elements and select them for editing. The details slider below the Smart Move switch determines how precise Snagit groups different parts of the document. For example, if you want Snagit to identify individual words as single objects, rather than a complete paragraph, increase the level of detail. If Snagit is too precise for your liking reduce the level of detail.

Once you are satisfied with the level of detail, you can move and edit elements on the page as you wish. Snagit automatically fills the background colour of any vacant spaces caused by moving or deleting objects.

If the image appears blurry or distorted, ensure you are viewing the document at 100%. Distortion is often a consequence of seeing an image zoomed in or out. At 100%, the image will display as it will look once finalised. Having finished editing the document, you can save it back into PDF format using the Save As menu option.

Combining Your PDF Files

We can use the same online tool from earlier to combine individual PDFs into a single document. This is useful if, having finished edited a multi-page PDF, you now want merge it back into a single document. 

This concludes our look at editing PDFs with Snagit. If you have an alternative, more efficient method, leave a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions. 

If you are thinking about purchasing Snagit, you can do so here.