Edit and enhance your PDFs easily with PDFpen 12!

Take Control of

Second Edition
Michael E. Cohen

Polish your PDFs with Smile’s PDFpen, for a fraction of what Adobe Acrobat costs! Michael E. Cohen explains how you can create, combine, edit, annotate, and protect PDFs. Also learn how to perform and edit OCR, fill out forms, sign forms digitally, make interactive forms, and much more. Covers Mac and iOS versions!

All Take Control books are delivered in three ebook formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—and can be read on nearly any device.


These days, an ever-increasing amount of “paper”—contracts, tax forms, bills, reports, and more—comes into our lives as PDF files. We generate this virtual paper too, since it’s so much easier to save a document as a PDF and send it to a colleague via email than it is to print and send via fax or email. To read, edit, and manipulate all these PDFs, you need the appropriate tools and skills.

Given the high price of Adobe Acrobat DC Pro, many Mac users have turned to Smile’s affordable PDFpen apps to help them sign PDF forms, handle scanned documents, make changes in existing PDFs, create new PDFs from a variety of sources, and to export PDFs to other file formats (including Word and Excel). With Take Control of PDFpen, you’ll learn how to do all these tasks and more on your Mac with PDFpen or PDFpenPro or on the go with PDFpen for iPad & iPhone.

If you haven’t used PDFpen before, this free book is an excellent way to find out what it has to offer.

TidBITS members can save 20% on all Smile products purchased through the Smile cart, including PDFpen 12 and PDFpenPro 12. To learn more, visit the Membership Benefits page. To access the coupon code, make sure you’ve logged in and click through from the Your Member Benefits page.

Take Control of PDFpen begins with a guide to purchasing options: PDFpen versus PDFpenPro, from Smile versus the Mac App Store, and the advantages of the iOS version. Next, you’ll meet PDFpen with an overview of the PDF format and a tour of the interface.

With the basics out of the way, highlights of what you’ll learn to do include:

  • Add and remove pages, and combine pages from multiple files into one PDF.
  • Mark up a PDF with highlights, comments, editing marks, and more.
  • Compare two different parts of a PDF with the Split View.
  • Edit a PDF by fixing typos, adding text, formatting text, and redacting confidential text.
  • Scan a document into a PDF, and make the text editable with OCR—with single or multiple documents.
  • Add photos or scans to a PDF quickly with Continuity Camera and an iOS/iPadOS device.
  • View and work with OCRed text in the OCR layer (PDFpenPro only)
  • Add clickable links, headers, footers, page numbers, and images.
  • Annotate a document with lines, shapes, text, and callouts.
  • Make a clickable table of contents (PDFpenPro only).
  • Add a watermark to each page of a PDF.
  • Password-protect a PDF. And (PDFpenPro only), prevent others from printing or editing a PDF.
  • Turn a PDF into a formatted Microsoft Word document, or (PDFpenPro only) export it in Excel or PowerPoint format.
  • Reduce the size of your PDFs.
  • Create blank PDFs with stationery.
  • Add a digital signature with DocuSign (PDFpenPro only).

And, you’ll find directions for working with PDF forms:

  • Fill out forms with ease.
  • Add a handwritten signature.
  • Apply a digital signing certificate.
  • Print just form entries on a pre-printed form.
  • Create an interactive PDF form (PDFpenPro only) that can collect data and send it to you via email or the web. You can add an interactive signature field, which makes it easy for the form to be signed online.

An appendix describes the useful AppleScripts that ship with PDFpen.

This ebook was created in collaboration with Smile, with PDFpen’s developers tech editing the book.

Michael Cohen

About Michael E. Cohen

Michael E. Cohen has taught English composition, worked as a programmer for NASA’s Deep Space Network, helped develop the first commercial ebooks at the Voyager Company, and co-founded a major university’s Humanities computing center. He has authored several books, including Apple Interface Mysteries, Take Control of PDFpen, Take Control of Pages, Take Control of iBooks Author, and Take Control of TextExpander.

This book covers version 12 of Smile’s PDFpen and PDFpenPro and version 5 of PDFpen for iPad & iPhone. The changes in this book from the first edition of Take Control of PDFpen cover the new and revised features in those apps, and include the following changes:

  • PDFpen 12 incorporates several new compression technologies to produce smaller PDFs. You can use a new command, File > Create Optimized PDF, to create and save more compact copies of your PDFs; see “Save Optimized PDFs.” Also see “Compression and Image Adjustments” to find out how you can apply the benefits of these technologies to existing PDFs without saving new optimized versions.
  • You can now get a closer look at details in a PDF without zooming the entire document window when you use the Magnifier Window.
  • PDFpen 12 offers stationery you can use when creating new blank PDFs. See “Create a Blank PDF.”
  • A new Callout tool joins the other drawing tools in PDFpen; it’s described in “Draw Callouts.”
  • PDFpenPro 12 offers the capability of logging in to the DocuSign e-signature service so you can securely upload and send documents to clients, business associates, and others for signatures. See “Use the DocuSign Service (Pro Feature)” for more details.
  • Changes to the descriptions of how to use PDFpen in iOS and iPadOS cover the new file handling features available in the latest versions of iOS and iPadOS, along with other changes.

What are the system requirements for PDFpen 12?

PDFpen 12 runs in macOS 10.13 High Sierra or later.

Does this book talk about PDFpen/PDFpen Pro 11?

Sort of. PDFpen 12 is a superset of PDFpen 11. So, while the book covers new features that don't appear in the older version of the app, most of the book is still applicable to PDFpen 11.

MacVoices Interviews Michael Cohen about PDFpen

Posted by Joe Kissell on May 2, 2020

Michael Cohen joined Chuck Joiner on MacVoices to discuss the second edition of Take Control of PDFpen, which covers version 12 of the app. Michael explains what’s new in both the app and the book.


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