September 11, 2023

Pixelmator Pro 3.4 brings advanced support for PDF files

Pixelmator Pro 3.4, codenamed Camelot, introduces a completely revamped PDF engine that takes PDF support to a whole new level. With this update, you can now open individual pages from multi-page PDF documents, work with vector PDFs, edit individual image, shape, and other elements in Apple PDFs, and more. If you often work with PDF files — we’re really excited for you to try out this update.

A (Very) Short History of PDF

PDF, or Portable Document Format, is a file format created by John Warnock, the co-founder of Adobe, back in 1990 as part of the “Camelot Project.” The project aimed to establish a reliable way to create and exchange documents, ensuring that they always look the same across multiple platforms and devices. Over the years, PDF not only achieved its initial goal but also became one of the most popular file formats for sharing and printing documents.

Import Selected PDF Pages

From now on, you can easily import and edit specific pages from multi-page PDF documents right in Pixelmator Pro. In a simple new import dialog, scroll through the list of pages in your PDF, choose the one you wish to edit and import it. You can also set the page resolution, and adjust its width and height to the size you need. And that’s not all. Thanks to the major PDF engine redesign, Pixelmator Pro now lets you import PDF files with layers. This means that if a PDF you’re opening includes images or shapes, you can now import these elements as separate layers and edit them individually. Or, if you prefer editing PDFs as flat images, you can import them with all layers merged.

Once you’ve edited and exported a PDF page, you can easily put it back into a multi-page document using the Preview app on your Mac. Simply open the original document in Preview, then drag and drop the page onto the list of PDF pages on the left. To create multi-page PDFs from scratch, you can take advantage of the automations available in the Shortcuts app on your Mac.

Edit PDF Layers

With support for vector PDFs, you can now edit shape and image elements in PDFs as separate layers and scale documents to any size without losing quality. This makes it simple to edit, rearrange, and delete elements in existing PDF documents, or create new vector PDFs you can then share and edit in other apps. More complex layer properties like blend modes, opacity, and masks are also supported and will be preserved when exporting.

Up until now, Pixelmator Pro supported bitmap PDFs — an image-based type of PDF. Unlike vector PDFs that support layers, bitmap PDFs open with all their contents merged into a single page which also has a fixed resolution. Because of this, bitmap PDFs have more limited options for editing and may lose quality when upscaling. That said, both PDF types have their own uses, so we’ve put together a quick comparison to help you figure out which PDF format is the best fit for your needs.

Vector PDFs

  • Editable page layout
  • Resolution-independent scaling
  • Editable vector elements
  • Best for sharing and printing vector-based documents, logos, text, and more

Bitmap PDFs

  • Embedded page content
  • Fixed resolution
  • No content discrepancies when sharing
  • Best for sharing and printing high-quality images and photographs

While bitmap PDFs are always image-based, vector PDFs can have both vector and bitmap elements (photos or illustrations) in the same document. When upscaling such documents, bitmap elements may lose quality and turn out blurry in the final design. To achieve the best possible quality when upscaling, you can use the AI-powered Super Resolution algorithm which increases the size of images while preserving sharpness and details with the help of machine learning.

Work with Apple PDFs

As part of the PDF engine improvements, we also wanted to extend the existing PDF support on macOS and make it easy for users to edit the PDF documents they create using everyday Mac apps. Pixelmator Pro now fully supports vector PDFs created using Safari, Keynote, Pages, and other iWork apps, and opens them with incredible precision. For instance, you can now export entire web pages to PDF from Safari and they will open in Pixelmator Pro exactly how you see them in your browser. And, best of all, you can edit all image, shape, and other elements as regular layers, using all your favorite tools in Pixelmator Pro.

Full Apple PDF file support unlocks many new workflows and possibilities. As a quick demo of other cool things you can do with this, we’ve exported shapes from the Geometry collection in Keynote to PDF, and then converted them into a new Pixelmator Pro shape collection. And just like that, Keynote shapes are ready to use in your Pixelmator Pro designs!

Convert Files to PDF with Shortcuts

The updated “Convert Image/Video” action in the Shortcuts app makes it easy to convert multiple Pixelmator Pro documents, Adobe Photoshop files, and other files to PDF. With added controls, you can also choose whether you want to convert documents to bitmap PDF or preserve all layers. By combining this feature with existing macOS actions, it’s possible to create workflows that will help quickly create multi-page PDF documents or prepare individual pages for editing in Pixelmator Pro. We’ve created shortcuts for these two specific workflows that you can download below:

These are all the amazing new features in the Pixelmator Pro 3.4 Camelot. We hope you like the update! The update is free to all existing users and is available from the Mac App Store starting today. And, if you don’t have a copy of Pixelmator Pro just yet, now is the best time to get it as it’s currently on sale for 30% off.

Open in App Store