If you need to take notes or write plans in digital documents, the most straightforward method is to directly draw on or annotate a PDF. Therefore, how can we add lines, shapes, arrows, or other markup tools to comment on PDFs? Luckily, when it comes to annotating PDF documents on Windows and macOS, there are numerous viable software toolkits that can be turned to.

How to Draw on a PDF with Desktop Software

In this section, you’ll learn how to draw lines, arrows, shapes, or highlight text in PDFs with offline PDF tools.

How to Draw on a PDF on Windows

SwifDoo PDF

SwifDoo PDF is an all-round PDF program equipped with a full toolkit for PDF conversion, editing, protection, and annotation. Regarding how to draw on a PDF, SwifDoo PDF now provides arrow, line, shape, and pencil for users to freely markup the PDF. Let’s see how to annotate a PDF on Windows versions 7 to 11 and XP.

Step 1: Download and install SwifDoo PDF on your PC from official website;

Step 2: Launch the PDF program and load up a PDF document to the workstation;

Step 3: Go to the Annotate tab on the ribbon bar, then a lot of tools are presented. Users can choose Arrow, Line, Shape, or Pencil to draw on the current PDF. For instance, if you need to draw a box in your PDF, just select Shape > Rectangle.


Tips:For these four tools, users can customize line color, weight, and style. If you have already added a shape to the page, you can change the color of the filling, border, opacity, and line width.


In addition to rectangles, SwifDoo PDF provides oval, polygonal, and connection lines for users to draw. For those who like to annotate a PDF with a freehand pencil tool, simply click on “Pencil”. If you need to correct what you’ve drawn on the PDF, the “Eraser” tool provided by SwifDoo PDF is available to remove anything you don’t need.

Some users may feel like that a PDF document is not friendly for drawing, here we offer the second method:

Step 1: Open a PDF document using SwifDoo PDF and click on Convert to choose PDF to Image;

Step 2: When the SwifDoo PDF Converter window pops up, ensure the Options, Resolution, Format, and Output Path are correct;

Step 3: Once ready, press the Start button to export this PDF as image(s).

Step 4: Download an art or drawing program to your PC and start drawing on the newly converted image.

The reason we put this solution the second place is its inconvenience. PDF programs may not be as competent as a professional drawing tool, but they usually integrate commonly used drawing tools to directly markup a PDF.

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How to Draw on a PDF on macOS

SwifDoo PDF is highly compatible with Windows OS, however, if you need to annotate a PDF on macOS devices, then you may need to ask Preview for help.

For Mac users, Preview is an indispensable tool since it is the default PDF viewer and reader on macOS device. Though Preview is not a dedicated PDF program, it can process some easy PDF-related tasks, such as conversion, viewing, and annotation. In the following guide, we’ll learn how to use Preview’s markup tools to draw on a PDF on macOS:

Step 1: Open a PDF document with the default PDF viewer Preview;

Step 2: Once the Markup Toolbar is hidden, click on the Show Markup Toolbar button. When all the markup tools show up, use the needed one to draw on the PDF. Preview enables Mac users to sketch or draw a shape using a single stroke, add shapes to the PDF, change shape style & color, and fill in the shapes with multiple colors.

Step 3: When finished drawing, click File > Save or Export To to download the PDF to a desired location.

To add a shape, Mac users just need to select the “Shape” icon which mainly includes lines, arrows, round-cornered rectangle, circle, speech bubble, star, and polygon. Additionally, Preview lets users to change the shape’s style, color, as well as the fill color.

Like we mentioned above, Preview can only meet basic needs for a PDF application. However, if you have a Mac or iPad and you need to draw on a PDF, Preview is the most convenient choice with great performance. At least, Mac or iPad users don’t have to download and test every PDF application, which can save too much trouble.

How to Draw on a PDF with Online Tools

This part is for those who are unwilling to download or install any unknown software from third parties. Exactly, if you are not regular users of PDF, you don’t need to ask for a professional program for help. Online tools can fulfill your basic need. In this section, we will introduce an easy-to-use web-based PDF tool for users to annotate PDFs.


pdfFiller is a powerful online PDF tool which incorporates 25 features to solve all your PDF problems. It enables users to add shapes, insert text, and embed e-signature to a PDF document. With an intuitive user interface, most users can easily find what they need. Following, see how to draw on a PDF with pdfFiller:

Step 1: Type the URL on the search bar, click Browse for a Document on Your Computer;

Step 2: When your PDF is opened in pdfFiller, click Draw on the menu bar to freely markup this PDF;

Step 3: If in want of adding lines, arrows or shapes to the current PDF, choose Line, Arrow, or Circle;  


Step 4: When dealing with unwanted annotations, just put the cursor on the hover box and select the Delete icon (displayed as a rubbish icon) to remove the content.  

Final Thoughts

For most users, markup tools provided by a PDF tool are adequate to meet basic needs for drawing on PDFs. SwifDoo PDF is a nice choice as it offers longer 30-day free trial for every new registered user. This is a comprehensive PDF program which you can trust. By the way, during the holiday season, users can enjoy the biggest discount all year.

Common FAQ about Free Methods to Directly Draw on a PDF in 2022

Q:How do we draw on a PDF with Adobe Acrobat?

Adobe has multiple drawing tools to enable users to freely markup a PDF file as needed:

Step 1: Open a PDF document using Adobe Acrobat Pro;

Step 2: Then click on the Comment tab from the menu bar;

Step 3: Next choose the marker button to select the Draw Free Form tab;

Step 4: Start drawing on the PDF. Once finished, save the document.

With Adobe, users can change line style, weight, color, and opacity.



Roche has been an active PDF user for 6 years and tried different types of professional PDF tools (both online and desktop version) since at his bachelor degree. Now, Roche works as a columnist for SwifDoo PDF over the course of the last one year, and provides useful and practical solutions pertaining to various PDF topics for users from different features.