Which pdf annotator has the nicest pen strokes?
September 10, 2020 6:38 PM   Subscribe

I currently use microsoft edge to annotate pdfs and I'm planning for the day the amazing pen tool goes away when it updates to chromium-based edge. The current pen smooths writing to be more legible. Where do I run to now?

A major component of my online teaching workflow involves making notes and working problems with students. Edge has precisely one use in my life, and that is for this purpose.
I've tried the pens in various chrome plugins, and in onenote, and in drawboard. They are all... not great. They work, but my (already scratchy) writing comes out like I'm writing in a car moving down a gravel road.

I'm using a bamboo ctl-470 tablet (not in great shape, but works well in edge) for input in all of these cases.

When making videos to post online, I use notability on an ipad, and that pen is even better!

I need to be able to write on a pdf. I need to be able to have at least 2 colours of ink (not a concern for any program I've seen). I need the writing to smooooooth itself out so it's more legible. All but that last point are easy to find. Can you please recommend a replacement program?

(please note that I know how to roll back the auto-update of edge, and also how to prevent it from happening in the first place, but that I am teaching from a work laptop [without admin access] and haven't been able to convince anyone in the IT department that this is a good idea -- and I really understand their point of view so I'm not going to fight any harder).

Paid software is okay, but a bit of a hassle. Free is best.
posted by Acari to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You might try looking for pen-focused software that happens to support PDF annotation rather than PDF-focused software. Your issue may be that any software can use pen input via treating the pen as a mouse, but mouse input is not smoothed, pressure-sensitive, etc. Pen-focused software will know how to handle a pen as a pen, with smoothing, pressure sensitivity, etc.

I have used Xournal for annotating PDFs, but mostly under Linux. I can't say for sure that it will work well for you under Windows. If not, the newer fork Xournal++ may work better.
posted by whatnotever at 9:54 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]

Assuming you're using Windows 10, I've heard good things about Drawboard though I haven't used it myself. As an app might not need admin access to install? Has a free tier.

These aren't PDF annotators, but OneNote and the new Snip & Sketch tools have nice OK pen feel to them and are native Microsoft products.

On edit, see you've tried all of these. How about EpicPen?
posted by q*ben at 10:08 AM on September 11

Note taking software that can open PDFs was a better thing to search for!

Xournal works, but inkodo seems more intuitive and also I could get it working without admin access.

Bamboo paper was almost right, and others like it all required exporting PDFs to images first. Not a big deal, and would have been fine.

Epic pen seems cool, but not for this task.

Thank you both for your time!
posted by Acari at 2:28 PM on September 11

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