If you use any form of estimating software or work within the electrical or construction industry in general, chances are you often have to manage PDF documents.

Drawings, contracts and other important files are often formatted in PDF and there can be a lot of different tasks you need to complete with them. Recently, we wrote about eight tips for managing PDF files, but we were only scratching the surface.

There are many more ways you can effectively manage PDF files, so here we are with a few more tips:

Get our guide to PDF software for different operating systems here

#1. How to edit a PDF document

A common headache with PDFs is that you may need to edit something about the document, but it is often not easy to do so. If you wanted to alter the text, not so long ago you would have to laboriously re-type the document in Word and save again as a PDF, particularly if you didn’t have paid PDF software.

Fortunately, there are more expedient ways to edit a PDF document now, without having to re-do the entire thing. There are actually a few different methods you could use, depending on what you have available, so let’s take a quick look:

Convert the PDF to a Word document

Converting your PDF file to a Word document so that you can freely edit it is probably one of the simplest ways to edit a PDF. There are a few options to go about doing this:

  1. Convert the PDF to Word format using G Docs. This is especially useful because you don’t need any special paid software to do it. The only limitation is that you can only convert files that are a maximum of 2GB.

    To use this method, go to your settings in Google Drive and check the box next to “convert uploads” (shown below).
    PDF management

    Next, you’re going to open the file. Head to the “file” menu at the top left and select download as > Microsoft Word (shown below).
    PDF management

  2. Convert to Word using Adobe Acrobat. This method is for anyone who has Acrobat, which is a paid/licensed software (not to be confused with Adobe Reader which is purely for reading PDF files).

    Select file > open, then your PDF file from the document window. Once the file opens, select “export PDF” at the right-hand toolbar. Select “Microsoft Word” as the export destination, then click export. Edit the file then “save as” PDF again.

Edit your PDF on Mac

You can also relatively easily edit a PDF file by using the “Pages” app on your Mac. To do so, open the PDF you would like to edit and:

  1. Copy all text to the clipboard
  2. To extract any images, hold down command + shift + 4. Click and drag the cursor to fit the frame of the image you’d like to extract, then release and save to your desktop.
  3. Paste the text into a new document in your “Pages” app.
  4. Edit the text of the document, leaving spaces to reinsert images.
  5. Drag the images that you saved to your desktop onto the document and format how you would like.
  6. Save as PDF.

Use an online PDF editor

If you were to do a quick search, a number of online PDF editors will come up. Some of them free, others will cost money. Be careful about what you choose – sometimes these free software options have limitations or even features that are best avoided.

For example, some “free” editors will:

  • Keep a copy of your document
  • Limit the extent of what you can edit
  • Ask you to download software that may contain malware
  • Ask for your email address so that they can put you on their mailing list.

There are paid online PDF editors too, such as Zamzar. This converter tool actually converts several different file types, not just PDF. The benefit is that you’re not usually subject to the potential negatives of free editors, while these online tools tend to be cheaper than Adobe Acrobat.

Editing PDF files is much easier than it used to be with a few simple tips Click To Tweet

#2. How to convert a PDF to an image

PDF files are a great way to package a document with a large number of pages, but sometimes you just want to be able to share a single page or image more easily.

An image file such as JPG is smaller and easier to share, especially if you consider that people might be opening and viewing the document on a mobile device or tablet. The other consideration is that you’re relying on people having a PDF viewing software installed to be able to quickly view the document. This is not necessary with an image format file. Additionally, most project management tools in use are better equipped to deal with JPG or other image files rather than a PDF.

You can convert a PDF to a JPG format, although image resolution will not be as crisp. Depending on what the file is being used for, this may not matter though. For viewing purposes only, JPG will be fine.

To convert your PDF file to JPG, you could use a file converter such as Zamzar, the one we mentioned previously. There are also several other options available online.

If you use a Mac, there is a way to convert to JPG without downloading any software. Open the PDF file using the “Preview” function (right click on your PDF and select “open with”). Under the “file” tab, choose “open” then change the format of the file to JPG and save.

#3. Managing PDFs on your iPhone

Whether you’re an electrical estimator or in another busy role in the construction world, the chances are you’re often on the move. This makes being able to manage documents from your phone especially useful.

Being able to open and save PDF files on your iPhone is one of the first things to learn. To do this, open the email that contains the file and long press to open the PDF. Once it has opened, tap the “share” option. From here, you can save the file to services you have on your phone such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Alternatively, if you hit “save file” it will save the files on your phone.

Once the file is saved, you’re then easily able to share it from the location that you saved it to. Alternatively, if you forward the original email, be sure to select “include” in the display window to ensure that the file forwards with the email.

If you need to print a PDF from your phone, you will follow the same steps that you did to share the file. Instead of sharing to a location such as Dropbox, you will select “print” and choose the WiFi enabled printer you want to print from.

PDF management


To annotate PDF files from your phone, you could choose to use one of the many apps available in the App Store for doing so. However, there is a way of making your annotations without downloading any extra apps. When you open the document, simply select the markup button (the one that looks like a ballpoint pen) from the top right, then choose from the markup options it allows.

One thing you will need an extra app for is any editing or signing on your phone. Check out apps such as Adobe Fill and Sign or PDFfiller.

Get our guide to PDF software for different operating systems here

#4. How to send a PDF securely

Lastly, there may be plenty of occasions where you need to ensure that a PDF document is sent securely. Many people whip off an email without a second thought, but this really isn’t a secure means of sending a confidential document. Even if you’re confident of security protocols at your own end, you can’t know about your recipient’s server or whether they might download your document from an unencrypted HTTP connection.

One strategy is to encrypt your PDF file with a password, but even that option is not perfect. Passwords have to be given to the recipient and you won’t know if it goes any further. One of the best ways to share securely is via an encrypted file sharing service. Dropbox is a solution that many choose. There are even some options specifically set up for PDF, with features such as preventing downloads or printing.

You will find a few different possibilities if you look into secure file sharing of PDFs – the key point we want to make is that you should consider file security. In the competitive world of bidding on projects, you wouldn’t want confidential documents to get out.

Final thoughts

There’s a lot you can do to manage your PDFs more effectively. Sometimes in the electrical estimating and construction worlds, it is helpful to have a few tricks up your sleeve for efficient document management.

It’s not just about your overall efficiency, but your professional appearance as well. Being able to master a few tools and tips to manage your files can look good for you in front of potential clients or partners.