I'm used to OS X where the system PDF viewer will let you draw and write text on top of any PDF document. You can then flatten it and save as a new PDF. It saves paper and time so you can fill in any form without printing it and scanning it back to the computer.

It also lets you insert a scanned image of your signature.

Is there software for Ubuntu that would do that?

  • I agree, the feature I'm searching for is when creating a text area and ending the edit I c an move the area directly, and double clicking on it starts to edit. The inconvenient I see with xournal, etc... is that you have to click another button to change to edit mode / create mode / moving mode etc... which slows down the already tedious process of filling a form.
    – ygorg
    Jun 9 at 13:32

4 Answers 4


xournal. I use it in conjunction with python-whiteboard daily. After you're done, just export as pdf. (The video shows how I use it.)


  • 1
    You can also use xournalpp, a fork of xournal with improvements.
    – ha7ilm
    Jan 25, 2021 at 17:53
  • 3
    @Marc your video is private
    – Mihail
    Nov 16, 2021 at 22:15

Master PDF Editor can be used to edit PDF files in Linux. It enables you to create, edit, view, encrypt, sign and print interactive PDF documents.

1. Download Application

It may not be the latest release, but, in this case, a message will pop-up to update when launching the application.

1.1. 32 bits

wget https://code-industry.net/public/master-pdf-editor-4.3.89_i386.deb -O master-pdf-editor.deb

1.2. 64 bits

wget https://code-industry.net/public/master-pdf-editor-4.3.89_qt5.amd64.deb -O master-pdf-editor.deb

2. Install Application

sudo dpkg -i master-pdf-editor.deb

3. Install Dependencies if necessary

sudo apt-get install -f


sudo apt-get remove master-pdf-editor
  • @JacobVlijm I was trying to find a way to install it from repository or command line the latest version, but I didnt find. Then it would be a better answer. Aug 2, 2017 at 21:08
  • 1
    There isn't a ppa, but installed from the .deb file, it shows a message if updates are available. Aug 2, 2017 at 22:02
  • 4
    This looks like a great program. But unfortunately, the free version I tried (5.4.38) inserts a watermark when saving changes, which makes it unusable in most circumstances. I'd be happy to buy a license, but 70 bucks is a bit too steep for a casual user like me.
    – mrhd
    Mar 5, 2020 at 8:17
  • @user727089 this is new for me. Mar 5, 2020 at 22:20

One tool that I really like is Foxit Reader. It has a lot of functionality in the free version.

The best "onboard" choice IMO is LibreOffice Draw. Although you might experience some minor changes to the document in terms of formatting, fonts and images. Still a solid solution altogether.

  • 2
    "minor" as in it complete fucks up the whole document with text floating outside of the page etc.
    – Nik
    Sep 5, 2022 at 15:09

I think we are on a hiding to nothing on this one. You can add to PDFs in Gimp, but it isn't really editing. My experience is that Gimp imports the PDF as an image, not text, so all you are doing in Gimp is overlaying, not actually editing. There doesn't appear to be any free or moderately priced PDF editors for Linux systems.

That said, it is possible to extract the text by converting the Gimp image to a .tiff file, then you use tesseract to do an OCR, and finally import the text into LibreOffice from which one can do any editing and then write the file out as a PDF. You lose any formatting, so it depends on your needs and how much editing is worthwhile. I have to say I am impressed with tesseract, and it will even identify and isolate columns of text on a page. You do need to mess around with the .tiff files to make sure that the resolution is adequate.

  • 4
    LibreOffice Draw can read PDF file directly.
    – user68186
    Aug 2, 2017 at 20:49
  • 1
    LibreOffice "Draw" hints that it's about as useful as Gimp for this purpose. Key problem is that people think PDF is a portable document format, which it's not. :-)
    – michael
    Aug 2, 2017 at 21:39

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