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Top 10 PDF Highlighters for PC and Mac in 2022

A PDF highlighter is essentially an application to highlight PDF content for the purpose of providing feedback, requesting a clarification/modification, or simply communicating something to another person that you’re collaborating on a document with. You’ll find a variety of PDF highlighter tools available for PC that you either need to install or that you can use in your browser without downloading and installing anything. But what is the best PDF highlighter for PC considering various factors such as convenience, ease of use, security, capability, and so on? Let’s find out.

Top 10 Applications to Highlight PDF

#1: UPDF - Free PDF Highlighter

If you’re looking for a free PDF highlighter tool with a little more power, then UPDF is exactly the application you need. The PDF highlighter function is complemented with a full range of annotation tools such as other text markups, commenting, stamps, shapes, stickers, and more.

For instance, you can highlight PDF text and then add a comment in a text box to explain why you’ve highlighted that particular portion of the document. You can also add some stickers to markup the important info.

highlight pdf in updf

Moreover, UPDF is also a completely free PDF editor, which allows you to take control of the content in any PDF file, and that includes images, text, and other PDF components.

But the most compelling reason to use UPDF is its stunningly different design that sets it apart from the regular crop of PDF editors. It is intended to provide the user with a fun and colorful environment to work on serious PDF content, which gives it a great overall balance of esthetics vs. functionality.

updf pdf highlighter

Pros

  • 100% free to use
  • Edit, annotate, and organize PDF pages
  • Beautiful and delightful UI for a superior user experience
  • No limitations and watermarks
  • No advertisements

Cons

  • UPDF for Android does not support highlighting PDF yet.
  • New features such as OCR are yet to be added.

Video Tutorial on How to Highlight PDF

#2: Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

highlight pdf tool

Reader DC is a free application from Adobe, the creator of the PDF format. Its premium cousins, Acrobat DC and Acrobat Pro DC are full-fledged editors, but with Reader DC, you can view and read PDFs, fill and sign forms, and even add comments and other annotations - including a highlight PDF tool. Reader DC is a mature product that’s been on the market since 2015, and since it’s free, it has a massive user base numbering in the millions.

However, Reader DC is not as capable as its more powerful PDF editing cousins, and is quite limited in functionality if you’re looking for a robust all-in-one PDF solution. Moreover, if you need more features, the switch to Acrobat DC or Acrobat Pro DC is pretty expensive.

Pros

  • Cross-platform availability - Win, Mac, iOS, Android
  • Popularity - available for the past 7 years
  • Free to use

Cons

  • Limited features
  • Expensive to upgrade
  • Bulky software - slows down older systems

#3: PDF Annotator

This PDF highlighter for PC is an excellent tool if the only thing you need to do with your PDFs is to annotate them. It offers a good range of annotation tools such as highlighting, commenting, making notes, drawing freehand, adding photos, and so on. You can also fill and sign PDF forms, add blank pages between existing PDF pages, manipulate page positions, and even take advantage of the presentation mode when showing the PDF to others.

In addition, you get access to file conversion, PDF security, page numbering, page extraction, document splitting, and other features as well. The best thing about this PDF highlighter free download is that it supports the use of styli on touch-enabled Windows devices such as convertibles and tablets.

Pros

  • Extensive annotation tools
  • Can add photos as annotations
  • Stylus support

Cons

  • Windows-exclusive application
  • Limited feature set - no editing, etc.
  • Expensive annotation tool
pdf highlighter for pc

#4: Foxit PDF Reader with Highlighter

As a PDF reader app, Foxit’s utility is pretty basic. You can draw, add comments, and share PDF files but you won’t find other features such as text markups or stamps. However, it’s great for document security because you can verify digital signatures, add a handwritten signature or add a legally valid electronic signature.

It also allows users to attach documents and other files to PDF, and it can be integrated with cloud storage accounts or CMS applications for team collaboration. Other than that, it’s little more than a PDF viewer with highlighter. Nevertheless, it is definitely among the top 10 PDF highlighter apps due to its widespread use in the Enterprise segment.

Pros

  • Simple and intuitive UI
  • Easy to deploy organization-wide
  • Free to use

Cons

  • No PDF editing
  • No advanced features
  • No text markup option to highlight PDF text after selection
pdf viewer with highlighter

#5: Drawboard PDF

This robust PDF highlighter tool offers a rich PDF annotation experience on a well-designed and organized interface that will appeal to the esthetic design side of the user. You can add bookmarks to mark specific pages in a large PDF, insert objects such as shapes, lines, and arrows, and even draw directly on a PDF file. One of the best features is its collaborative ability, which allows users to work on a document in real-time once it’s been uploaded to the cloud.

It also supports writing or drawing with a stylus. Although this feature can be found in many other PDF highlighter tools, the unique aspect here is the pressure-sensitivity, which means you can draw dark or light lines just by changing the pressure applied to the touch-enabled surface of the device. This makes it feel like you’re actually writing with a pen and paper and is one of the most appealing features of this unique PDF annotation tool.

Pros

  • Pressure-sensitive ink
  • Additional features such as flatten and optimize PDF
  • Work in real-time with cloud-uploaded PDFs

Cons

  • Free version has limited features
  • Cloud access limited to 10 documents of 40MB each
pdf highlighter app for pc

#6: EaseUS PDF Editor

This is an advanced tool that’s been around since 2004. The features are quite extensive so it’s more than just a PDF highlighter. You can use it to create PDF forms, edit PDFs, and even convert them to and from more than 10 different file types. In addition, you can use the OCR function to convert non-editable or scanned PDF files into editable versions.

However, the down side is that there’s only a free trial version, but you’ll need to upgrade if you want access to all features on an unlimited basis. It also offers PDF signing, Bates Stamping, security, file merging/splitting, PDF compression, and watermarking. Upgrading is pretty affordable, which makes this one of the top highlight PDF tools with added functionality.

Pros

  • Extensive feature set
  • Advanced tools such as OCR
  • Simple and user-friendly UI

Cons

  • Only supports Windows
  • Trial version capped at 5 pages
  • Highlight PDF feature limited to commenting
pdf reader and highlighter

#7: ApowerPDF Highlighter for PC

Another great free highlight PDF tool that’s been around for ages is ApowerPDF from ApowerSoft, which makes a range of software applications and online tools to handle PDFs and other document types. It offers a full array of rich features such as file conversion, PDF editing, OCR, file merging and splitting, PDF form creation, PDF compression, and more. The application is not exactly cheap but is often available with discounts, and there are options to either subscribe monthly or yearly, or purchase a one-time perpetual license that never expires.

Pros

  • Comprehensive PDF tools
  • Advanced features such as OCR
  • Export/import option for forms

Cons

  • Text search function is sometimes slow
  • Not ideal for hi-dpi PDFs
pdf highlighter for windows

#8: Preview on Mac - Free PDF Highlighter APP

The Mac Preview app is an excellent annotation tool for macOS users. Obviously, there’s no PDF highlighter for PC version but it’s a free tool that comes with your Mac so it’s definitely something you should look into. Although the app is designed primarily for image viewing, it is a surprisingly capable application to highlight PDF as well. In fact, you can even export PDFs in other formats such as images using this versatile native Mac app.

The only problem here is that you can select text but not highlight it as you can with UPDF or other PDF highlighter applications for Mac. However, there are other markup tools such as strikethrough and underlining to highlight specific text content. You also have shapes, freehand drawing, and other features that make this a worthwhile app to consider as a free PDF highlighter.

Pros

  • Free application
  • Mac-native experience
  • Versatile app for PDFs and images

Cons

  • No text highlighting
  • Limited PDF functionality
  • No Windows version
pdf highlighting software

#9: PDFescape - PDF Viewer with Highlighter

PDFescape is an online free PDF highlighter service that’s great for on-the-go use no matter whether you’re on a PC or Mac device. In fact, since it’s used on your browser, you can easily highlight PDF documents on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets as well as desktops.

Don’t expect too much from this app in terms of extensive PDF tools because it only offers the basics - PDF annotations such as the PDF highlighter, page organization, form creation, etc. For advanced actions such as PDF editing, you’ll better off with UPDF, another free PDF highlighter app that also includes a PDF editor module.

Pros

  • Convenient browser-based use
  • Free to use
  • Good selection of annotation tools

Cons

  • Limited PDF features
  • Outdated user interface
free pdf highlighter for pc

#10: PDF Expert

PDF Expert is an excellent PDF editor and PDF highlighter for Mac and iOS/iPadOS devices. It comes with a full range of annotation tools such as PDF highlighter, notes, shapes, drawing, and stamps. You can also export a summary of all annotations on a document and even delete all annotations with just a couple of clicks of your mouse.

In addition to being able to highlight PDF content, you can also use PDF Expert to fill forms, sign PDF documents, and combine PDF files. It’s also a great PDF reader if you’re looking for an alternative to using your Chrome browser or a free PDF highlighter app.

Pros

  • Comprehensive PDF highlighting and annotation
  • Mac-friendly UI
  • Easy operations

Cons

  • No PC version
  • No advanced features such as OCR
free pdf reader with highlighter

The Bottom Line

These are all great PDF highlighters for PC, Mac, and other environments. Each comes with a unique feature set and special tools to make handling PDF workflows easier. However, if you look at the overall experience, you’ll notice that UPDF comes out on top because of its PDF editing ability, a delightful interface, fast processing speed, and extensive page organizing and annotation tools to highlight PDFs. The best part - it’s 100% free and will stay that way for the foreseeable future.