Tip of the Week: PDFpen Select Rectangle for Selecting, Erasing, Whiting Out, Cropping, Copying

select rectangle tool

This week we’re going to take a look at one of the lesser known tools in PDFpen, the Select Rectangle tool. Fourth from the left on the editing bar, with the shortcut ⌘4, this little tool can do a lot:
– redact
– erase
– fill with color
– measure
– crop
– copy
– make a new document

How To Use the Select Rectangle Tool

  1. Select the tool from the editing bar, or press ⌘4
  2. Then click and drag to outline the desired area of the page.

Resize it
You can resize the area after you’ve created it by hovering over the edges or corners until the cursor turns into resize handles.

Move it
Hover your cursor within the selected rectangle and the cursor turns into a hand tool, allowing you to drag the selection around the page.

Remove it
If you don’t want to do anything with the selection, you are done with it, just click outside the selection, or switch to another tool, and it will disappear.

Redact Text

  1. Select a portion of a page with the select rectangle.
  2. Choose Format > Redact text – Block (⌃⌥⇧⌘B)

Whenever you have private information in a document you definitely don’t want to share, say you need to use your tax document as proof of income but don’t want to give out your social security number, you can permanently remove that information using redaction.

In the case of the select rectangle, you can redact whole paragraphs or any other large are, replacing that sensitive information with a black box.

Here’s a video explaining a bit more about redaction.


  1. Select a portion of a page with the select rectangle.
  2. Choose Format > Redact text – Erase

If redaction is scrubbing out a piece of your document using a black box, then erasing is doing the same but with a white box. Similar to white out, this blends in better with the standard white background of most documents.

Use this for sensitive information, or to clean up a messy document. For example, clean up stray marks or the splotchy cruft left over from a fax or copy/scan job.

Fill with color

What if you want to redact, but don’t want the box to be black? No problem.

Once you have your redacted block, select it with the Edit tool (⌘2) then use the Object properties panel to change the fill color.

fill color



While there is a measurement tool in PDFpen, the select rectangle as notes distances. Both the width and height inside the selection, as well as the distance from the edge of the page to the edge of the selection. A quick way to double check your margins and object spacing.

What units are these distances in? Whatever the default is of your current document, such as feet in an architectural plan.

You can set the units in Preferences > Editing > Measurement units.



Crop page to selection

  1. Select a portion of a page with the select rectangle.
  2. Choose Edit > Crop page to selection

Need to crop a page? Use the select rectangle. Remember to adjust the position and size of the selection first. And ⌘Z is also available to undo a recent mistake 🙂

Copy and paste

Let’s say you don’t want to crop the page to that handy chart, you just want to copy that chart and put it somewhere else. Select a portion of a page, copy (⌘C), click to another page, and paste (⌘V).

If you’re gathering scanned receipts, this can help you lay them out all on one page.

New document from selection

  1. Select a portion of a page with the select rectangle.
  2. Choose File > New > From Selection (⇧⌘N)

This is the fastest way to pull out a piece of a report into a new separate document. The New From Selection command also works for making a new document out of a selection of pages while leaving the larger document intact. Just select a few page thumbnails from the sidebar to be the selection instead of using the select rectangle.

How are you using PDFpen? Let us know @PDFpen.