How to Rotate A PDF and Save It That Way on Mac or Windows

PDFs are notoriously difficult to work with in some circumstances, and it can take some time to get used to the intricacies of the file format. Unfortunately for those who aren’t keen on using the PDF format, it’s quite prevalent in many circles these days, and there’s simply no circumventing the need to be familiar with how PDF files work, and basic procedures for their editing.

Rotating a PDF document is a task that commonly comes up, and it can be surprisingly tricky to figure out if you haven’t done it before. Once you’ve gone through the process a few times, and have the appropriate software on your machine, it will be an easy ordeal. But until then, here are some suggestions for the most convenient ways to rotate a PDF. Most of those should work on any operating system. The only exception is the approach that uses Microsoft Word, which might not work on all Mac computers.

Solution 1: Use Adobe Acrobat

Adobe’s Acrobat Reader has bult-in functionality for rotating a PDF document. If you’re using Adobe DC:

  • Go to Tools
  • Go to Organize Pages
  • Choose the pages you want to rotate. You can use a page range.
  • Choose your desired rotation. Keep in mind that you are restricted to 90-degree increments.
  • Click Ok

You can rotate pages in any direction, but keep in mind that you can only rotate them by 90 degrees. More precise rotation is not possible with the default tools available on Adobe Acrobat, though this is a rare use case that most people should not need in the first place.


Once you’re done, you just need to save your changes. You can either use the original PDF for that, or save them to a new file. It’s a good idea to keep a backup of the original file in case something goes wrong and you need to revert your changes. Of course, that’s a good idea for any kind of document editing in general.

Solution 2: Use a PDF Editor

There are also various free PDF editors around the web that you can use for the same purpose. Some of them come with a small, limited set of features aimed specifically at quick edits and minor changes. For example, an editor might come with features for resizing, cutting, and rotating pages, as well as splitting the document into smaller ones.

Some PDF editors, on the other hand, offer a much broader range of features that can allow you to perform various advanced modifications to your PDFs. For most intents and purposes, you should be fine with the former. But if you find yourself frequently making larger changes to PDFs and you want to have something proper to deal with them, you should consider investing in an advanced PDF editor.

There are several solutions on that market and it can be difficult to recommend a good one, as they can vary a lot in their functionality and are aimed at specific user groups. Try to do some research and figure out which one would work best for you. If they offer a trial version, make sure to take advantage of that as well. Also, keep in mind that some PDF editors can be surprisingly expensive, so make sure to do plenty of research before committing to one for the long run.

Solution 3: Use Microsoft Word

Not many people realize this, but Microsoft Word can be used to edit PDF documents, and not just Word files. To do this, you need to have at least Microsoft Office 2016.

  • Create a new blank document
  • Drag and drop your PDF inside the document
  • Adjust the PDF’s position and scale until it matches your needs
  • Go to Picture Format
  • Go to Arrange
  • Go to Rotate
  • Select your desired rotation settings

Pay attention to margins! Word typically uses some wide ones by default, which might not be ideal if you’re inserting a PDF document that already comes with a lot of whitespace. You should probably reduce the size of Word’s margins in order to make your PDF properly legible. Word comes with a useful feature that can allow you to preview a document as it would come out if printed. This can give you a good idea if the page needs additional adjustment. It’s a good idea to go through that feature even if you don’t plan on actually printing the document later.


Earlier versions of Word might be able to do the same, but they will require additional work to insert the PDF as an embedded document. In those cases, it’s probably a better idea to go with one of the alternative methods we’ve described below. One of those is also compatible with the Word approach, so you can combine the two if you’re saving your PDF as an image.

Solution 4: Rotate the PDF as an Image

This is a bit of a clumsy approach, but it can work in a pinch when nothing else is available. If you can fit the entire PDF on your screen, you can take a screenshot and then use an image editor to rotate that. This can work very well when you don’t care much about preserving things like selectable text and separate images in the document. But if those are important, it will not be the best approach.

Be careful about image compression as well. Depending on the format you use to save the final result, you might end up losing some details that were originally present in the PDF. For some purposes, this will not be acceptable. If that’s the case for you, you should look into one of the other approaches we listed above. Using an online tool as we describe below can also work if you’re in a hurry.

This is not something you should do regularly, but if you need to just quickly make some adjustments to a document, it should work well enough. Again, if editing PDFs is a regular part of your workflow, it’s best to spend some time looking for a proper dedicated tool that will do the job well. This will save you a lot of headache in the future.

Solution 5: Use an Online Tool

There are various free online tools that can be used to rotate a PDF quickly and without any hassle. Some of them are single-purpose – that is, they are used specifically for resizing, rotating, or other similar operations. Many of those are offered without any charge, but you should be careful about the ones you’re using and their business model.

In some cases, a free online PDF editor might attach watermarks to your document, which is clearly not ideal for every use case. You should also verify that the final result was saved correctly, because this might be a problem if your original PDF contained some complicated details that could mess up a simpler tool. As we mentioned above, it’s always a good idea to save a backup of whatever you’re editing because you never know when something might go wrong, forcing you to go back to an earlier version.

Last but not least, keep an eye on the terms & conditions of any free online tool that you use. If you’re editing a PDF that contains sensitive information, you might not want to submit it to any random free website. In this case, it’s a good idea to look for a proper, standalone tool that you know you can trust.

That’s not to say that free online PDF editors are untrustworthy. Quite the opposite, many of them work very well and won’t give you any hassle. But for some specific situations, it’s better to use a proven tool with a solid track record, instead of trusting something that may not work that well in the end.

The Bottom Line

Ideally, this will only be a challenge the first time you try to do it. Once you’ve figured out how to use the tool you’ve settled on, you should find that the process is easy enough to repeat consistently. Don’t be afraid to try out some alternatives if your initial choice doesn’t get the job done properly. There are lots of options on the market for PDF editors and converters, and you should explore it as much as you can if this is a regular part of your work. The right tool can make a huge difference in your workflow later on!

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