So, I got this PDF magazine layout (page by page - not all pages in one document). When I place it in InDesign, I can't edit it. Can't change font or anything. I just have one object (text and pictures combined) and I can't separate it to edit one by one. I searched for solutions but it's like that is not possible at all.

When I open some of these PDF pages in Illustrator it's possible to get it separately, text and pictures, but text is separated in rows so for one short paragraph I have about 14 different rows and they are not same text body. Also, if I edit text layer - the shadow stays the same (from before my changes) so I think I can't do it with Illustrator..

My question is: is it possible to edit placed PDF file in InDesign if it was exported to PDF from InDesign. By edit I mean edit text and pictures - not only scaling PDF.

  • In case you want your indd file to be partially editable and some parts to be hard to edit, then remember to convert all text to outline curves when making the PDF which will be placed into your design.
    – user82991
    Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 11:26

5 Answers 5


No PDFs placed into InDesign are merely linked files and like all linked files in InDesign there's no direct editing capabilities. The extent of editing is restricted to the import options when you place the file.

  • Thank you. Is there any other possible option for these PDF files that I got (like is there any other way I can import or something in InDesign) so I can edit text and pictures separately?
    – erikaerika
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 19:28
  • 1
    No. You need to use some other application to edit PDF files. Which application that is depends upon the edits you need to make.
    – Scott
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 19:49

If you have Adobe Acrobat, you can use File > Save As... to export the PDF into other formats that will let you edit the text and separate out the images (however the chances that the images will have resolution issues is nonzero).

You can't export it into an .indd file, however.


Maybe you want to try PDF2ID. This piece of software claims to do perfect conversion from a PDF to InDesign CS4 and later formats. I have not tried it myself, but I'm going to do it. PDF2ID is also available as a free trial.

  • That's a bold statement. The PDF file format defines several features that are not present in InDesign.
    – Jongware
    Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 12:40
  • 1
    "perfect" is my (not so clever) shortcut for all the praisings on their advertising page. Something good to know: They are not especially randy to give out a trial. Only the qualified ones will get it. I have still not received it. This is understandable because this is a high priced product and it's not the most profitable practice to let one time users to get the service for free.
    – user82991
    Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 15:57
  • I'm experimenting with Serif PagePlus X9. It opens PDFs - at least quite short ones . Object positions and text editability is hitherto been acceptable in my tests.
    – user82991
    Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 16:05

Unfortunately (or fortunately), the best bet is to edit, if possible, the PDFs in Illustrator, then Save As editable .ai files. Then you'll have to import the .ai files into InDesign for pagination. In my experience that's the best way to edit PDFs. Not ideal, but the best way I know of.


If you just want to edit a PDF or use it to create a new document it can be done easily in Quark XPress 2020 (maybe earlier) by importing as or converting to "Native Objects" (no plugins required). Everything seems to stays in place and is fully editable, of course you will need the fonts that are embedded in the PDF. Then export a PDF in whatever format you require; simple. You'll need to buy QX, they don't rent it to you.

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