How to Annotate a PDF on Windows and Mac


Mastering PDF annotation is essential for efficiently managing digital files. Tasks like adding notes or highlighting a PDF, aid in referencing, collaborating, studying, and organizing documents. They enhance presentations, streamline workflows, and improve communication within teams.

Most users who work with PDF documents may need to add notes or comments, overlay some text or a geometric object, etc. Such actions may be necessary for managers, and heads of departments when editing contracts, orders, invoices, or any other papers within the company. All these tasks can be completed with a PDF editor.

Overall, knowing how to mark up a PDF boosts efficiency, organization, and teamwork in both personal and professional settings.

This article will provide you with a detailed overview of two PDF annotators: one for Windows, and another one for Mac.

How to annotate a PDF on Windows

Icecream PDF Editor is a powerful software for working with digital documents. Using PDF annotation is easy. Download the PDF Editor for Windows PC and install it on your computer. Upload the PDF document and switch to the "Annotate" mode.

You will see all the available in the menu on the left. Refer to the screenshot below.

Free PDF annotator for Windows

Now, let's take a closer look at each of the offered utilities o the free PDF editor.

1. Hand

Designed to quickly move within the document and find the necessary information. Select the tool and move the sheet in the desired direction by holding the left mouse button.

2. Select

Use this tool to pick out text or graphics for moving or resizing. Please note, that it works for objects added in the "Annotate PDF" mode only.

3. Text

This tool allows you to add a comment to PDF or write a new text in the white space. You can choose the font type and size, as well as the color and alignment (left, right, or justify).

4. Stamps

There are standard PDF stamps, such as "Accepted", "Disclaim", "Forbidden" and others. You can also make a custom design: enter your text, add the time stamps, or upload an image of a pre-made stamp.

5. Note

Add a note to PDF and pick a color you like. This functionality allows leaving notes for yourself, provide feedback to others, or work collaboratively.

6. Highlight Area

Highlight random and custom areas of the document. Choose the background color and adjust the transparency. Thus, you can bring the reader's attention to some important part of the document, for example, to an error.

7. Highlight Text

Highlight PDF text to indicate significant information in orders, instructions, and contracts. You have a choice of 7 standard and 5 custom colors.

Highlight PDF text

8. Underline

Add an underscore line to your text in PDF. The line colors available are the same as those in the "Highlight text" tool.

9. Strikeout

Cross out irrelevant information and any other unnecessary content for further editing your PDF document.

10. Wavy Underline

Point out some of the text by adding a curly line under it. This helps point out punctuation or grammar errors.

11. Rectangle

Draw a rectangle shape to indicate an important area of a document. This object has a frame and a color fill, the shades of which can be changed. Also, you can adjust the thickness of the outline and the transparency of the background. Hold Ctrl to draw a square.

12. Circle

Similar to the previous tool, select an area within the document and draw a circular shape. The settings of the fill and outline color, as well as the thickness of the latter and the transparency of the background are also customizable. Hold Ctrl to draw a perfect circle.

13. Line

This tool of the PDF annotator is used to mark non-text content or to draw a straight line. The color, boldness, and opacity can be regulated.

14. Arrow

Use the arrow to point to a specific part of the document or specify the sequence of actions in instructions. You can customize the color and thickness, too.

Draw lines on PDF

15. Pencil

Draw on the PDF with the mouse cursor. Use it to edit small flaws in pictures, and tables, as well as to create your illustration, add a signature, and write some text.

16. Eraser

This tool is created to fix elements that you drew with "Pencil". In its settings. you can change the size of the active area for more accurate and high-quality work with smaller objects.

How to annotate a PDF on Mac

Preview, the default PDF editor and viewer on Mac devices, offers a range of useful features for annotating PDFs. Whether you need to highlight important passages, add notes or comments, or even fill in a PDF form, this app has got you covered.

PDF annotator for Mac

Let's go through all the various features Preview has to offer for annotating your PDFs.

1. Highlight Text

The most basic form of annotation is highlighting text. You can also alter the highlight color by selecting the color palette icon next to the "Highlight" option.

2. Strike-Through Text

This tool allows users to draw a horizontal line through selected text in a PDF document. Users can easily strike through words, phrases, or entire sentences to show changes or revisions made to the document.

3. Underline Text

Underline text in PDF by adding a straight line underneath selected text. Underlining can help draw attention to key points, making it easier for readers to identify critical details or concepts.

Underline in PDF

4. Add Notes

Sometimes, just highlighting text is not enough. You may consider including additional comments or notes for further clarification. Click the "Add Note" button in the toolbar to create a small pop-up box where you can type in your note.

5. Shapes and Lines

To emphasize a particular area of your PDF, you can utilize various drawing tools such as shapes and lines. You can draw a rectangular (square), oval (circle), line, arrow, polygon, or star.

6. Text Boxes and Speech Bubbles

Another way to add annotations is by using text boxes or bubbles. These are helpful if you wish to include lengthier remarks or clarifications. You can customize the font and size of your text using the formatting options in the toolbar.

7. Sketch

This tool allows users to freehand draw or sketch directly onto the PDF document. It's useful for adding diagrams, illustrations, or annotations more creatively.

8. Draw

Similar to "Sketch", the "Draw" tool enables users to draw anything by hand. It offers more control over the annotations, making it suitable for technical drawings or diagrams.

Draw on PDF

9. Rectangular Selection

This tool allows users to select a rectangular area of the PDF document to crop it out and delete; copy and paste to another part of the document; and more.

10. Redact

The "Redact" tool enables users to permanently remove sensitive or confidential information from the PDF document. It covers the selected area with a black box, ensuring that the redacted content cannot be viewed or recovered.

Who might need to learn to annotate PDF

  • Designers. Experts in this field will appreciate the technical capabilities of a free PDF editor as they may need to work with this type of document to create a sketch of a preliminary design. In addition, web studio designers may need to draw on PDF such elements as logos, and tables, and leave notes for clients.
  • Accountants and economists. A PDF editor is helpful for recognizing text in tables. So, if you encounter any errors while checking your report, you can correct them right away without creating a new document.
  • Managers. Such a program will be useful to supervisors for drafting job descriptions, and employment contracts, and making corrections to documents on major transactions.
  • Students and teachers. A PDF editor will be useful software for university students and educators. It will help create projects, grade papers, prepare practice reports, etc.
  • Editors, copywriters, and content managers. Customers often provide information about their products in the form of a PDF file. To extract images, specifications, and company labels you need a powerful software to edit PDF files.
  • Other PDF editing professionals. The discussed programs have a large set of PDF editing tools and a clear interface. It is suitable for both novice users and professionals with great experience.

PDF annotation tips


  • Use different colors for different types of annotations (e.g. red for corrections, blue for comments).
  • Take advantage of the sticky note feature to add reminders or questions for further discussion.
  • Utilize the drawing tools to create diagrams or illustrations for better understanding.
  • Consider using a separate color code key for easy reference and organization of annotations.
  • Use the search function to quickly find specific words or phrases within the document.
  • Make a backup of the old file so you can always refer back to your original document if needed.


In conclusion, annotating a PDF can be a useful skill to have, whether for work, school, or personal use. Equipped with either of the mentioned PDF annotators, you can easily annotate and edit PDFs and make them more organized and meaningful.

Enhance your reading experience and make studying or working with digital documents more efficient and effective!

Alexandra Meyer

Editor-in-Chief at Icecream Apps

With experience spanning over several years, Alexandra Meyer holds the esteemed position of editor-in-chief at Icecream Apps. Originally involved in the website's establishment in 2014, Alexandra now ensures the maintenance of the company's exceptional content standards across their various projects. Specializing in technology, software, online services, and human resources, she has extensively written and edited numerous articles on these subjects.
5 min read
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