How can I add comments to a PDF?
April 12, 2009 11:03 AM   Subscribe

I want to be able to make notes on a PDF file that has been sent to me, but don't know what program to use. I need to highlight or comment on errors in the original text, save the document, and send it on to someone else.

I'm running Windows on a Mac, and have a PDF document that I need to read and comment on (specifically, look for mistakes). I don't want to have to write a separate list of comments - too time-consuming and fiddly, for both me and the person who will read my comments - but I don't have access to a printer or scanner so I can't print out the PDF, mark it up by hand and then scan it, which is what I usually do.

What programs are there that would allow me to "write" on a PDF (eg highlight or add comments)? Free is best, but I don't mind paying for something that will do what I need it to (preferably less than $100 as I'll only use the program once, but will consider all options). I'd prefer a Windows program, but will use Mac if it's the only option.

Google offers a mind-boggling selection of possibilities and I don't know where to start, so would like some personal recommendations. Thanks!
posted by different to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Foxit PDF, free, does all the things you want (using plugins it will download as-needed). The free version watermarks PDFs you mark up, but it's not expensive.
posted by abulafa at 11:08 AM on April 12, 2009

I just did something similar, but it was a very small project and so I didn't spend time looking for the best tool. I imported a PDF into OpenOffice.Org 3 using the PDF Import extension. Easy and quick, and you get to use all the drawing tools.
posted by mebibyte at 11:08 AM on April 12, 2009

Well, I recall Windows Journal allowing you to import PDF and directly write / highlight. It's free with Vista and Windows 7, and apparently XP tablet edition. I"m assuming your Mac is not a TabletPC or running Tablet Edition for the hell of it.
posted by pwnguin at 11:17 AM on April 12, 2009

You can import it into Inkscape, which is an open source and free illustration tool that would allow you to make just about any kind of annotation at all. Then choose "Save As..." and .pdf is an option.

That would only do one page at a time but you could re-combine the pages with ConcatPDF. (Also free but you have to install two Microsoft libraries as prereq's: .NET 1.1, J#.)

I don't have Scribus installed at the moment to test, but that might let you do the same thing with the entire document at once. (Scribus is open source and free.)
posted by XMLicious at 11:57 AM on April 12, 2009

For posterity's sake, although I know it might not apply to this particular situation, on Mac OS X I would recommend Skim. It's unambiguously free with no watermarks, and quite a pleasure to use.
posted by Ginkgo at 12:03 PM on April 12, 2009

I second using Skim on the Mac. It lets you highlight portions of text, circle text, comment using text boxes, and more. A very excellent app, even if you don't use the markup options, and it's free!
posted by bengarland at 12:42 PM on April 12, 2009

A program called eCopy Desktop would do all of this and much more. However, it's not free (though the 45 day trial is) and is more designed for an office type situation.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 12:52 PM on April 12, 2009

A quick trial of Foxit and I bought a license ($39.95). Many thanks, I'm thrilled with this new toy!
posted by different at 1:48 PM on April 12, 2009

he, Preview that came with your Mac does the same for free. You're loosing out on soooo many good things about your toy ;-)
posted by KimG at 3:43 PM on April 12, 2009

KimG: Yeah, I know. I know it's stupid, but the learning curve for my Mac isn't something I have time for right now because I'm so swamped in work. Probably I'll get fired soon like most of my colleagues and then I'll be able to catch up on it!
posted by different at 4:16 PM on April 12, 2009

3rding Skim for the Mac. It's really quite good, and has replaced Preview as my default PDF viewer.
posted by Fin Azvandi at 8:33 AM on April 13, 2009

Preview, which comes with your Mac, lets you do this already, though Skim is what I'd recommend as well.
posted by Brian Puccio at 4:04 AM on April 15, 2009

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