Looking for the best PDF annotator? Whenever you need to markup text, add comments or sticky notes to a PDF file, using a good-to-use PDF annotation tool can always streamline the process. In this day and age, there are tons of software developed for dealing with PDF files, but which of them most fits your needs?

Annotation is more than just writing or drawing on a PDF, it may also include replacing an image, or adding a signature to a PDF file. All things considered, we’ve rounded up the 6 best PDF annotators in 2022 according to the product feature, response time, cost-effectiveness, and user interface.  

  • SwifDoo PDF (Windows)
  • Wondershare PDFelement (Windows)  
  • Soda PDF (Windows)
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro (Mac)
  • PDF Expert (Mac)
  • PDFescape (Online)

Best PDF Annotators on Windows

1. SwifDoo PDF

SwifDoo PDF is a light and multi-purpose PDF annotator available on Windows 11/10/8.1/7/XP. With a set of annotation tools, it enables you to freely draw on a PDF, highlight, underline, strikethrough text, insert caret, add sticky notes and stamps, and more. When performing a task, you’ll find the application always starts and runs smoothly without any log. Even for a heavy file with 600 pages, the SwifDoo PDF annotator allows you to view and annotate it quickly.      

Here is a step-by-step guide to annotating a PDF file in the SwifDoo PDF program.

Step 1: After free downloading the installer, directly launch the program and open your PDF file with it. You can click Open in the home tab to import your file or drag and drop it into the window;


Step 2: Go to Annotate menu on the top and choose any of the provided features to start annotating the PDF;


Step 3: When you're done, click SwifDoo in the top left corner to save the changes.


If necessary, the SwifDoo PDF annotator enables you to insert, replace images, and add headers and footers in a PDF. You can use its PDF encryption feature to password protect your annotated PDF. The handy software also lets you convert PDFs to images or other formats. In a word, SwifDoo PDF is a one-stop shop for a variety of PDF-related needs. With respect to the user interface, SwifDoo PDF resembles Microsoft Word, which is designed for creating a great user experience.       


  1. Rich PDF annotation features.
  2. Fast program response.
  3. Clean and simple user interface.  
  4. One-time license at $159 (only $99 during promotion).


  1. Windows-only.  
Tips:If you need to convert PDFs (such as convert Excel to PDF or PDF to Word), you can check our post for a list of PDF converters. SwifDoo PDF also provides the powerful Optical Character Recognition (OCR) tool to make scanned PDF files searchable and editable.

                                                                                        Free Download                                                         

2. Wondershare PDFelement

PDFelement annotator is an all-inclusive solution to PDF tasks. It has an array of PDF annotation features to highlight text, add text boxes, insert shapes in PDFs, and more. When the need arises, the annotator enables you to use the callout tool to markup an image, or add an attachment to a PDF document. This software also has good PDF editing and OCR features.     


  1. All necessary annotation features, and other advanced features such as extracting data from form fields in a PDF.
  2. Smooth program execution.


  1. User-unfriendly interface for annotation and some other features.   
  2. Watermarks added on a PDF document when saving changes during a free trial. Only half-year, one-year, perpetual subscription plans.

3. Soda PDF

Soda PDF is designed to handle PDF documents on Windows 10 (desktop app), Windows 8, and 7. To be specific, this PDF software has both web and desktop versions. As a PDF annotator, it enables users to markup, whiteout text, add attachments in a PDF, and much more. Besides, the Soda PDF annotator has a handy measurement tool that allows you to measure the length, perimeter, and area of elements in a PDF file.

In addition to PDF annotation, Soda PDF offers a lot of other features that enable users to edit, merge, split, and rotate PDF documents. However, concerning response time, the program runs a little slowly. Despite this, it is still a top pick for handling PDFs overall.


  1. Powerful annotation features including measuring objects in a PDF file.
  2. Intuitive navigation bar.
  3. Offer a web version.


  1. Relatively slow program response.

Best PDF Annotators on Mac

4. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC comes from Adobe. Inc, the inventor of PDF, which you must have heard of before. With a suite of great tools and outstanding performance, Acrobat Pro is sure to meet your needs for PDF annotation. You can employ the software to complete almost all annotation tasks including adding text boxes and shapes to a PDF.

As a full-fledged PDF management application, it also lets you edit, convert, compress, and combine PDF documents. Even so, many people feel Acrobat Pro is not pleasant to use because of the costly subscription and sophisticated interface design.


  1. Excellent PDF annotation and other features.
  2. Smooth and rapid program response.


  1. Cluttered interface.
  2. Only yearly plan available, at about $180 (The price is higher than the perpetual plan of SwifDoo PDF). 

5. PDF Expert

PDF Expert is a popular PDF management tool compatible with macOS. With its annotation feature, you can draw on a PDF, highlight text, and add notes and stamps to a PDF document. If needed, the PDF Expert annotator allows you to export all annotations as a single file. On top of PDF annotation, the software can also edit, combine and sign PDFs. Like every other PDF application, PDF Expert has its downsides. For example, it has no advanced features such as OCR.


  1. Common annotation features.
  2. Easy-to-use UI.
  3. Available on iPad and iPhone.


  1. Not work well with large PDF files.

Best PDF Annotators Online     

6. PDFescape

Without a PDF application installed on your device, annotating PDFs can be tricky. Thanks to online PDF annotators, you can add annotations to PDF files through a web browser. The feature-rich PDF software, PDFescape, provides a quick and free way to deal with PDFs. It not only allows you to add comments but also enables you to insert form fields into a PDF file.


  1. Essential annotation features.
  2. Easy to access through Chrome, Firefox, Edge, etc.


  1. Only 5 fonts for added text.
  2. Old-fashioned UI design.

Bonus: Kami PDF Annotator (Chrome Extension, Google Drive Connected App) 

Kami is a PDF annotation tool that can work with Google Drive and Chrome browsers. To use the app, you need to connect it to your Drive from Google Workspace Marketplace or add it to your Chrome from Chrome Web Store.

Kami PDF annotator has the ability to markup and erases content, and draw and leave comments on a PDF. You can add audio or video comments to PDF files. Furthermore, this app enables you to easily split, merge, and sign documents. If you need more complicated features such as PDF conversion, it's better to turn to a more comprehensive PDF application.

Common FAQ about 6 Best PDF Annotators in 2022 (Reviewed)

Q:Can I annotate PDFs on Mac without using any third-party software?

You can use the default PDF reader on Mac, Preview to perform common PDF annotation tasks such as drawing shapes, typing text, and redacting content. Preview also allows users to split, merge and sign PDF documents. 



Susy has worked with PDF tools for more than 5 years. During the past time, PDF software is of huge assistance in increasing her productivity. She joined SwifDoo PDF one year ago and works as an editor now. Based on a lot of research and tests, Susy can offer users professional and practical solutions to PDF issues.