Step-by-Step Guide: How to Highlight PDFs in Google Drive

Summary :

Google Drive is an excellent tool for collaborative work. Discover how to emphasize and annotate PDFs by highlighting critical content. This post provides a step-by-step guide on highlighting PDFs within Google Drive.

Table of Contents

How to Highlight in Google Drive

How to Highlight in Google Drive

Highlighting text in PDF documents can be crucial for studying, reviewing, or annotating important information. Google Drive offers a straightforward method to highlight PDFs, although it involves a few steps and might not preserve the original formatting of the document.

For those seeking a more robust solution, professional PDF editors like PDFgear provide enhanced features without compromising the document’s layout. Here’s a detailed guide on both methods.

How to Highlight in Google Drive: Detail Steps

Google Drive, a popular cloud storage service by Google, allows users to store and manage their files online. It also offers basic editing tools for PDFs through Google Docs. Here’s how you can highlight text in a PDF using Google Drive:

Step 1. Upload Your PDF to Google Drive

First, log into your Google Drive account. Click on the “+ New” button on the left side of the interface, then select “File upload” to choose and upload your PDF file from your device.

Upload a PDF to Google Drive

Upload a PDF to Google Drive

Step 2. Open with Google Docs

Once your PDF is uploaded, right-click on the file in Google Drive and select “Open with” followed by “Google Docs.” This action converts the PDF into a Google Docs document.

Open PDF with Google Docs

Open PDF with Google Docs

Step 3. Highlight the Text

In the Google Docs document, click and drag to select the text you want to highlight. Then, click the “Highlight Color” button in the upper toolbar and choose your desired color. The selected text will now be highlighted.

Highlight the PDF

Highlight the PDF

Step 4. Download as PDF

After highlighting, go to the “File” menu, select “Download,” and then choose “PDF Document (.pdf)” to save the document back to PDF format with your highlights intact.

It’s important to note that while this method works, it may cause some formatting issues with the original PDF. The PDF may lose its original layout and formatting when opened in Google Docs.

How to Highlight PDF without Losing Formatting Online

For those who need to maintain the integrity of their PDFs while adding highlights, PDFgear is an excellent alternative. It provides an online PDF editor that allows you to highlight, annotate, and comment on PDFs directly without converting them to Google Docs format.

Without downloading, without registration. Here is how to highlight PDF in Chrome using PDFgear online service without losing formatting:

Step 1. Go to PDFgear Online PDF Editor, and click the “Upload PDF” button to select and upload the PDF file you want to work with.

Upload a PDF File to PDFgear

Upload a PDF File to PDFgear

Step 2. Click “Add or Edit annotations” > Hit the first “Highlight Text” button > Drag the mouse to select the text > Pick a highlight color.

You can change your highlight color at any time with PDFgear.

Highlight PDF Online

Highlight PDF Online

Step 3. Save your PDF changes without changing it’s formatting.

PDFgear online editor supports highlighting only for PDF files under 20MB. To overcome this limitation, we recommend using PDFgear. Not only does it remove the file size constraint, but it also allows highlighting text in scanned PDFs.

How to Highlight Text in a Scanned PDF

Regular PDF editors can’t always highlight text in scanned documents well. But there are special tools like PDFgear that can help. PDFgear is great for working with scanned papers. We’ll show you how to highlight text in a scanned PDF using PDFgear, step by step.

Step 1. Download and Install PDFgear

Visit the PDFgear website, download the appropriate version for your operating system, and install the application.

PDFgear – Best FREE PDF Highlighter

PDFgear is the best PDF editor and reader for highlighting text. You can highlight words within the PDF using any color you choose.

Step 2. Open Your PDF with PDFgear

Launch PDFgear and click on “Open File” to select and open the scanned PDF file you wish to highlight.

Open a PDF in PDFgear

Open a PDF in PDFgear

Step 3. Highlight Text

Select the “Highlight” tool from the “Annotate” tab.

Highlight Text in Scanned PDF

Highlight Text in Scanned PDF

Click and drag to select the text in your PDF, then choose a color for the highlight. There is also an area highlighting feature in PDFgear to highlight or mark specific areas in PDF documents.

Step 4. Save Your PDF

After highlighting, simply save your document. PDFgear ensures that the original formatting and quality of the PDF are preserved, making it ideal for professional and academic use.

How to Remove Highlight PDF in Google Drive

Too many highlights fail to emphasize the key points and may even clutter the entire document. Therefore, appropriately removing unnecessary highlights will increase the readability of the file.

Step 1. Use your mouse to select the highlights you wish to cancel.

Box out the Highlight Texts

Box out the Highlight Texts

Step 2. Navigate to the Highlight Color button and select “None” to remove the highlight in PDF.

Remove the Highlight in PDF

Remove the Highlight in PDF


How to Highlight PDFs in Google Drive on Android?

Log in to Google Drive > Upload a PDF file > Open with Google Docs > Click the pen icon in the lower right corner > Swipe your finger to select the text > Tap the “A” button in the upper-right corner > Choose Text > Pick a highlight color.

Can You Highlight PDFs on Google Docs?

Yes. You can open the PDF with Google Docs, select the text, and choose a highlight color. However, this operation may cause formatting loss in the PDF. So it is recommended to use PDFgear to highlight PDF online.

What is the best PDF highlighter?

PDFgear is the best PDF highlighting tool, allowing users to highlight important information and mark key content with ease and in their preferred colors, without the need for downloading or registering.


In summary, Google Drive provides a convenient way to highlight and annotate PDFs, but it’s important to be aware of the potential formatting issues.

For the best results, explore specialized PDF editing tools that offer a more robust set of annotation features. PDFgear is a good choice whether you want to highlight text in regular PDFs or scanned PDFs, online or offline.

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