While reading a PDF document, you may wish to emphasize certain key texts to improve memory and review convenience. That is where the PDF highlighter comes into play. Similar to traditional highlighter pens, PDF highlighters let you mark content in a PDF with a striking color to draw attention to the important information. Fortunately, many software programs are available to do this, but which is the best PDF highlighter?

Some PDF users prefer desktop-based programs, while others may like web applications. Not all PDF highlighting tools are safe or suitable, and many users don't know how to pick up a proper one. In light of that, this post introduces the top 9 PDF highlighters for Windows, Mac and web users.

  • SwifDoo PDF (Windows)
  • PDF-XChange Editor (Windows)
  • PDF Expert (Mac)
  • Skim (Mac)
  • Preview (Mac)
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (Windows and Mac)
  • Sejda (Online)
  • Hypothesis (Online)
  • Weava Highlighter (Online)

SwifDoo PDF

SwifDoo PDF is a multi-purpose PDF highlighter that lets you highlight text or area, add sticky notes, draw shapes and lines, and do a lot more to annotate PDF documents. It allows you to easily change the color of the highlighter tool and highlights in PDF. Adjusting highlights’ opacity in the program is a piece of cake. When needed, you can use the software to remove all the highlights from a PDF with a couple of clicks.

More than just annotating a PDF, the versatile PDF highlighter can edit, convert, compress, merge, split PDFs, etc. It runs on Windows PC and features a small size and quick response.

Free Download


  • Easy addition, color changing and removal of highlights
  • PDF editing, conversion, and more capabilities
  • Intuitive graphic user interface


  • Only available on Windows 11/10/8.1/7/XP
How to Highlight a PDF on Windows and Mac

How to Highlight a PDF on Windows and Mac

Users may need to annotate PDFs, such as highlight, underline, and strikethrough, to mark out the text. How do we highlight a PDF? This post has the answer.


PDF-XChange Editor

PDF-XChange Editor is a small, feature-rich, free PDF highlighter to download on Windows PCs. You can use the program to highlight and unhighlight text, add, remove text or text boxes, insert callouts, and replace and correct text. To change the highlight color, select the highlight and go to “Format” > “Fill Color”. The free PDF reader and highlighter also includes PDF creation, editing, annotation, digitally signing, and other capabilities.


  • A complete set of annotation tools
  • Easy-to-understand interface
  • OCR text recognition


  • Only run on Windows
  • The free version saves PDFs with watermarks for some features

PDF Expert

PDF Expert is a free downloadable PDF highlighter for Mac. It enables users to underline, strikeout, and highlight text quickly. Once you add all the necessary highlights to a PDF, a sidebar comes out, and you can change the highlight color as needed. The PDF highlighter app also helps add notes, shapes, stamps, and other types of annotations to a PDF file.


  • A one-stop solution to reading, conversion, and signing of PDFs
  • Form filling feature
  • Touch bar support


  • Only compatible with Apple devices
  • Less highlighting and annotation tools


Skim is an open-source and free PDF reader and highlighter for Mac OS X. It is designed to help view, annotate, and bookmark PDFs. You can highlight text and remove highlights in PDF, add, edit, export notes as text, underline selectable text, etc. It supports full-screen, slide show and split-screen reading modes.


  • Both a PDF highlighter and notes taking app
  • Lightweight program
  • Simple interface


  • Limited features


Those Mac users with basic needs for annotating PDFs don’t have to ask for any external software. Preview, the inbuilt PDF highlighter on Mac devices, allows you to highlight text with different colors and delete highlights by selecting them. It is also equipped with tools letting you underline or strikethrough chosen text. Drawing shapes and lines is not a difficult thing in the program.


  • Free and native PDF markup tool
  • PDF encryption feature
  • An image to/from PDF converter


  • Only available for Mac users
  • Not ideal for advanced features such as editing existing text, etc

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, developed by the multinational software company, Adobe Inc., might be the most well-known PDF highlighter around the globe. This program offers users an array of features for commenting on PDFs. You can add highlights to a PDF, change the color and remove highlights when necessary. Regarding how to change the highlight color in Adobe, simply click on the highlight, tap the “Change color” icon on the top and select your desired color.

The Adobe PDF highlighter also allows you to underline, strikethrough, and replace text, add text boxes to PDF, and more.


  • Guaranteed stability
  • Tools for digitally signing PDF documents
  • Free PDF highlighter for Mac and Windows PC


  • Expensive
  • Much disk space consumption


Sejda is a powerful online PDF highlighter and editor that enables users to manipulate PDFs for free effortlessly. To highlight a PDF, you just need to access its website, navigate to its online PDF editor page and upload your PDF. After adding a highlight, you can click on it and select a color from the color palette in the floating bar to change the highlight color. Removing a highlight from a PDF is also simple on this website.

The online free PDF highlighter also helps strike out and underline text. Moreover, the web application makes it easy to insert images, links, and text to PDF, convert, split and do more with PDF documents.


  • Comprehensive PDF tool  
  • Ease of access from any device via a browser, including Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • Fast running


  • Not suitable for a batch of PDF files


Hypothesis is an online tool designed to annotate PDFs and web pages. Unlike the above-mentioned PDF highlighters, it comes as a Google Chrome extension that you can install from Chrome Web Store. It runs within the browser and lets you instantly highlight a PDF and web page while viewing. The PDF highlighter tool also allows users to add notes on PDFs.


  • No need to download any program to disk
  • Ability to annotate web pages


  • Less highlighting and annotation features

Weava Highlighter

Weava Highlighter is one of the best PDF highlighter tools across the web. It’s developed to highlight and organize your research faster and wiser. The PDF viewer and highlighter allows you to highlight PDFs and web pages with several standard colors and easily change and delete the highlight color. You can also add notes to a PDF on the web without breaking a sweat.


  • Support organizing highlights into folders and sub-folders
  • Automatically citations creation


  • Only five highlight colors, and the use of more colors requires a premium account


Teachers, proofreaders, orators, and many other professionals working with PDFs need to highlight PDF documents and they may not have found the most suitable highlighter to use. That’s why we narrowed the range down to the top 9 PDF highlighters. I hope this post is helpful, and please choose the one you like most.

FAQs about Top 9 PDF Highlighters for Windows/Mac/Web Users

How do I highlight a PDF with limited permissions?

If your PDF is protected with permission passwords to prevent annotating, you cannot highlight anything in the file. The first thing you should do is to remove the passwords from the PDF and then highlight the text.

How do I highlight text in a scanned PDF?

PDF software such as SwifDoo PDF allows you to select a specific area to highlight, which helps highlight text in a scanned PDF.



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.

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