10 Best PDF Annotators for Windows and Mac [Free or Free Trial]

Last updated on August 24, 2023

Summary :

The non-editable and private nature of PDFs can largely ensure the security of our documents. But this also makes the process of collaboration in the PDF to add notes becomes a little difficult. Therefore, to bring you convenience, we have analyzed the 10 best PDF annotators for Windows and Mac from the pros and cons, recommended reasons, annotation steps, etc.

Top PDF Annotators in 2023

PDF Annotators for Windows and Mac

PDF Annotators for Windows and Mac

PDF annotators help you make up your PDF files in high quality. When sharing the PDF among people inching for some suggestions, people can directly add sticky notes with their views or opinions on the PDF file without changing the original one.

Or when you want to highlight some part of a PDF to attract others’ attention or want to remove any text, you can use the PDF annotator’s functions of highlight and strikethrough.

In this guide, we will file up 10 PDF annotators and the most current features for you to make a choice and a simple tutorial on how to add annotation via each recommended PDF annotator will also be included.

1. PDFgear – The Best Free PDF Annotator for Windows and macOS

PDFgear is an almighty PDF manager available on Windows 11/10, macOS 10.14, and above, including M1 and M2.

It combines multiple PDF tools including a PDF editor, PDF converter, PDF splitter, and PDF annotator into one. Put it specifically, you can complete all PDF edits via it. You can convert 20+ file formats to PDF, and split PDFs for easy sharing.

For its feature of a PDF annotator, PDFgear allows you to highlight PDF, underline, and strikethrough texts on the PDF, and add comments to PDF. You can also leave your comments by making use of the tool Note.

To help you better understand how to add annotations on a PDF via PDFgear, here we will take the tool – Strikethrough as an example to show you how to do it. let’s move on.

100% Clean & Safe

Step 1. Tap on the download button above to directly download PDFgear > Launch it > Click the “Open File“ button to import the PDF on which you want to add the annotation.

Step 2. Now you will be guided to PDFgear’s main page where all PDF editing tools are listed.

Go to “Annotate” and here for a presentation, we choose “Strikethrough”. Next, move your mouse to start striking through the text. If you also want to go on adding other annotations, you can choose any of the provided features under the “Annotation”.

Annotate PDFs via PDFgear

Annotate PDFs via PDFgear

Step 3. Tap the “Save” icon to save the annotated PDF when you are satisfied with it.

Reasons to Recommend: PDFgear handles all PDF work well.


  • More than a PDF annotator, almost all PDF editing is supported
  • Simple and clean interface
  • Multiple languages supported


  • Android and iOS versions are needed

2. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC – The Most Pro PDF Editor

Chances are high that even if you don’t use Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, you must have already heard about it. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is widely recognized as one of the most professional PDF tools. It is preferred by professionals who want the most powerful editor.

Adobe Acrobat is always used for creating and modifying PDF documents. To annotate PDFs via it, go to the tool center and select “Comment”. The comment toolbar will appear above the PDF. Next, you can tap any of them to annotate your PDFs.

PDF Annotator Adobe Acrobat

PDF Annotator Adobe Acrobat

Reasons to Recommend: The best PDF software on the market.


  • All thirteen annotations tools, such as a sticky note, highlight, underline, strikethrough, etc.
  • The perfect ally for PDF working
  • Easy for viewing and editing PDF documents


  • Not recommended for beginners
  • Charge is high

3. PDF Expert – Compatible with macOS

PDF Expert is a professional PDF management tool for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. You can never miss it, too. PDF Expert lets you easily annotate PDF files. The common annotation tasks, such as adding texts, creating sticky notes, inserting shapes, and typing on PDFs, can all be met.

As a mature PDF editor, it also lets you edit, sign, convert, merge, and crop & split pages in PDFs.

To annotate a PDF file via PDF Expert, get PDF Expert for free from its official site and open it > Tap the blue plus sign to add the file you wish to annotate > Navigate to “Annotate” on the top of the toolbar > Select one of the listed tools: Highlight, Underline, or Strikethrough, Note, and others.

Each icon represents different features of annotation. You can tap on it to try it all.

PDF Annotator PDF Expert

PDF Annotator PDF Expert

Reasons to Recommend: The go-to PDF annotator.


  • Well-polished UI design
  • Add stamps, shapes, and comment
  • Editors’ Choice by Apple


  • macOS only
  • expensive

4. Preview – The Built-in Software on macOS

As a built-in PDF reader and editor on Mac, Preview can provide you with a wealth of functions including viewing, editing, merging, encrypting PDF files, and converting image formats. Additionally, you can sign PDFs, extract images from files, rearrange PDF pages, and crop images. With the basic functions for picture and PDF files, many Mac users can meet their needs for daily life.

However, if you want to access some advanced PDF editing, choosing another professional PDF Editor is a better option.

For annotating PDFs on Preview, open the PDF with Preview, and click the Tools tab, in the Annotate menu. You can highlight, underline, strikethrough text, or add shapes, bubbles, masks, notes, and signatures in PDF.

PDF Annotator Preview

PDF Annotator Preview

5. Soda PDF – The Most Advanced PDF Editor

Soda PDF provides desktop and online PDF tools for you to enjoy, so you can enjoy its features on any web browser and you can also download its desktop version to use more features offline. Main features include annotating PDF documents, converting PDF files to MS Office, and HTML, splitting a PDF file into multiple files or merging multiple PDFs into one file, and more.

With so many powerful editing features, you might find it hard to figure it out. Instead, Soda PDF has a simple user interface letting you get started quickly and easily.

Highlight, underline, strikethrough, sticker, notes, stamps, and shapes are available in Soda PDF for annotating a PDF file. Just launch it after downloading and install it on your desktop.

Open the PDF with Soda PDF, and then go to “COMMENT” and tap on it, and then you will see all annotation tools here. Choose one as you want to start annotating the PDF.

PDF Annotator Soda PDF

PDF Annotator Soda PDF

Reasons to Recommend: Good for the team’s cooperation.


  • Fully functional web-based version
  • Free Technical Support
  • About 300 file formats are supported


  • Registration is required for a free trial

6. Nitro PDF Pro – Packed with Powerful PDF Editing Features

Nitro PDF Pro, the all-in-one PDF tool, is packed with multiple powerful features for you to create and edit PDFs with ease. It also lets you split, convert, merge, and annotate PDFs. A clean and user-friendly interface ensures an intuitive experience for even first-time users. Nitro PDF Pro is also widely regarded as the first alternative to Adobe Acrobat for its enterprise-grade PDF solutions.

Annotating PDFs with Nitro PDF Pro is easy. After importing a PDF in Nitro Pro, go to select the review tab, and then as you can see, a submenu will appear under which you will see the listed annotation features, including text box, highlight, notes, shapes, and more common ones. Directly select any one of them to start annotating.

PDF Annotator Nitro Pro

PDF Annotator Nitro Pro

Reasons to Recommend:  Provides users with enterprise-grade PDF solutions.


  • Secure, compliant eSign
  • PDF solutions to increase individual productivity
  • Free Trial available


  • Limited functionality for a free trial and later charged
  • Different packages for Mac and Windows

7. PDFescape – A Smart Alternative to Adobe Acrobat

PDFescape was first accepted by most people for its online version which provides many PDF editing features and works well. Its online version includes: editing PDF files, annotating PDF documents, password protect PDF files, and filling out PDF forms. Almost all standard PDF editing tools are covered. Maybe it wants to provide users with more professional services, PDFescape later developed its desktop version, adding more features, like print to PDF, merging PDF, converting PDF to other formats, compressing PDF, and more.

Both online and desktop versions work well for PDF editing, you can choose one as you like. Here we will show you how to annotate a PDF via the desktop version. Directly import the PDF, find “Review” and then choose which annotation you want.

PDF Annotator PDFescape

PDF Annotator PDFescape

Reasons to Recommend:  Online or Desktop? All is up to you.


  • Online and offline version both works well
  • Encrypt PDF contents using passwords
  • Sign the PDF document with the scanned signature


  • Limitation to file size
  • Only supports Windows

8. PDF Annotator – A Pure Annotator for Windows

PDF Annotator, as its name shows, is a pure tool for annotating PDFs. So it tries its best to optimize its annotation features so that you can edit every detail on the PDFs.

Open the PDF that you want to annotate, and then you can begin adding text notes, highlights, and callouts directly to the PDF. For need, you can also remove the markups and start fresh.

PDF Annotator

PDF Annotator

Reasons to Recommend: A standalone tool for all your PDF annotations.


  • Quite easy to use
  • Markups right on PDFs
  • A wide range of stamps


  • Digital signatures are not supported
  • Not well-known to people

9. PDF-XChange – A Fully-featured PDF Editor

PDF-XChange has PDF annotation tools for a variety of needs, from editing, correcting, and adding text to adding links, audio files, and backgrounds. PDF-XChange Editor is faster and you will notice that there are almost no glitches when it is working.

The Edit Comments Tool is used to add annotations. Open a PDF with PDF-XChange, navigate to the Home Tab, and select the Select Comments Tool. Click comments to select them or other annotation tools.

PDF Annotator PDF-XChange

PDF Annotator PDF-XChange

 Reasons to Recommend:  More feature-rich than any other free PDF viewer.


  • The free text recognition feature supports multiple languages
  • Remove text effortlessly
  • SearchablePDF documents with OCR


  • Lack of text boxes/callouts, stamps and drawing tools

10. Smallpdf – Meet all Needs for PDF Editing

Smallpdf like most PDF editors includes PDF editing tools. You can use it to read PDF, edit PDF, compress PDF, scan PDF, combine PDF, convert PDF, and annotate PDF.

Free to use online and offline! Launch Smallpdf, and tap the open button to import your needed PDF file. Then, you can add texts, images, shape, and highlight to the PDF by using the tools provided right above the imported PDF.

PDF Annotator Smallpdf

PDF Annotator Smallpdf

 Reasons to Recommend: Simple and clean interface, easy to use!


  • More than a PDF annotator
  • Both online and offline mode support
  • Converts to and from PDF


  • Paid version is more expensive than the peers
  • Sometimes documents come in a slightly distorted format

Top 10 PDF Annotators at a Glance

Product Devices Supported Features
PDFgear Completely free Windows, macOS, iOS PDFgear handles all PDF annotating and works well
Acrobat DC Pro $29.99 /month Windows, macOS, Android, iOS The best PDF software on the market
PDF Expert $79.99 /year


iPhone, iPad, Mac The go-to PDF annotator
Preview Free macOS Basic functions for picture and PDF files
Soda PDF Home:$10/month

Premium: $15/month

Business: $20/month

Web-based, iOS, Android, Windows Good for team cooperation
Nitro PDF Pro Windows: $179.99/one-time

Mac: $179.99/one-time

Windows, Mac Provides users with enterprise-grade PDF solutions
PDFescape Premium: $35.88/year

Ultimate: $71.88/year

Web-based, Windows Available both online and offline
PDF Annotator $17.47/year Web-based, Windows A standalone tool for all your PDF annotations
PDF-XChange Editor: $56/year

Plus: $72/year

Pro: $121/year

Windows More feature-rich than any other free PDF viewer
Smallpdf $7/month Windows, Android, iOS Simple and clean interface, easy to use


Now the introduction for the 10 best PDF annotators has finished. Do you know which one is best for you? Given that the recommended PDF annotators are a little more, we compile them in a chart for you to make a better comparison with each other.

You might have noticed that we placed the PDFgear as the first. Yes, we highly recommend it for it is cost-effective, and powerful tools are equipped to deal with PDFs. Of course, you can always make your own decision on which one to choose. And hope this post helps you a lot.

More Related Articles