I want to be able to take notes on PDFs.
June 26, 2005 5:19 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a cheap Mac (Tiger) program that will let me write on PDFs.

Most of my reading for school is PDFs, and there's no way I'm going to print out hundreds of pages a term. I need something that will let me take notes in the margins of PDFs, preferably via text boxes or something rather than converting the whole thing to text and then letting me alter the original text. I especially like PDFPenPro, of which I got a demo, because the contents of the text boxes overlaid on the page are indexed also, so a search returns both the word in the text of the document and in my notes. That is very nice but not actually required. More important is that it not cost more than about $20. Free is, as always, better.
posted by librarina to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
 
The Preview application included in Tiger will let you add text annotations to any PDF document. Open the PDF in Preview, and go to Tools > Annotation > Text Annotation.
posted by chrismear at 5:24 PM on June 26, 2005


Whoops. You then need to choose the Annotate Tool to actually use it. Drag out a text box anywhere on the PDF, and you can type in it.
posted by chrismear at 5:27 PM on June 26, 2005


Wow! That's neat. Didn't know that. Thanks!
posted by dobbs at 5:29 PM on June 26, 2005


Hey! Look at that. I'm a waste of front-page space!
I looked hard for this before and couldn't figure out how it worked. Turns out I also have to select the little pencil. (On preview: OK, so I'm not totally insane that it's not the most intuitive ever. Good.)
Thanks, chrismear.

(I'm not entirely thrilled with it being all yellow and a big font, though, so I am still open to recommendations of better programs. Sorry for being totally useless.)
posted by librarina at 5:30 PM on June 26, 2005


Hey, thanks for asking this question as I learned something new about Preview from it. This will definitely come in handy as I could use a similar utility.
posted by stefnet at 6:42 PM on June 26, 2005


Preview also lets you export it as a Jpeg, at which point you can Gimp the crap out of it and then re-import as a jpg.


I've noticed that when preview converts between jpg/pdf, however, there is a loss of quality.

Closed source pdf formats are eeeeevil.
posted by craniac at 7:20 PM on June 26, 2005


craniac: It has nothing to do with closed source formats, and indeed the spec for PDF is freely available. JPEG is designed for storing images of natural scenes efficiently---it does so by throwing away information that the human eye can't really see well when it looks at such images.

This discarded information is much more visible when looking at things like line art or text---the abrupt boundaries between very light and very dark you see in such media aren't often present in natural scenes and are just the things JPEG doesn't store well.

If you want to preserve the appearance of the PDF and you can't edit it directly, you would be better off exporting it into a lossless format such as TIFF. Even this approach throws away data, since the Gimp is for editing pixels and PDF files are almost always used to represent vector data (i.e. lines and curves).
posted by tss at 7:50 PM on June 26, 2005


In particular, the text in a PDF is usually represented as text (plus a font), which makes the PDF indexable and searchable. If you convert to a bitmap format and back, what you have is a PDF containing one big bitmap, which is going to be (a) much larger (b) worse-looking if you zoom or print at high resolution (c) not indexable or searchable.
posted by hattifattener at 9:32 PM on June 26, 2005


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