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Home / Blog / 7 Best Free PDF Markup Tools for Windows/Mac/Online | 2024

7 Best Free PDF Markup Tools for Windows/Mac/Online | 2024

By Charlotte | Follow twitter | Updated on March 13, 2023
Do you need to frequently work with PDF documents and mark up PDFs? If so, you probably want several nice PDF markup tools to use. A PDF markup tool is a software program or an app that allows you to add annotations to a PDF. It usually lets you draw lines or shapes, and add text, highlights, or other markups. Since PDF files are hard to edit, finding practical PDF markup software is not easy.

If you have no time comparing and choosing which software is reliable, this article comes in handy. Here we have listed and introduced the 7 best free PDF markup tools to you. They are available for different devices. Read on to learn more about them.

1. SwifDoo PDF - Windows

SwifDoo PDF is a lightweight, fast, and feature-rich PDF markup tool. It allows you to add arrows, lines, shapes, notes, and many other types of annotations to mark up a PDF file. You can easily change the markup properties at any time. Thanks to the intuitive user interface, there is no learning curve to use the tool. New users can markup PDF files as many as possible for free. As one of the top PDF markup tools, it features a small size and quick response.

PDF markup software tool SwifDoo PDF

Within the software, you are able to manage all markups in one panel and delete unnecessary ones. If necessary, the versatile application can help alter the text and images in PDFs with its powerful editing ability. It is one of the most full-featured PDF markup tools. Its other features are follows.

Features of SwifDoo PDF

  • Create, mark up, and edit PDF files
  • Convert PDFs to office documents, images, and other widely used files and vice versa
  • Compress, combine, split, and add hyperlinks to PDFs
  • Add, delete, extract, and replace pages in a PDF
  • Password protect, sign, and watermark PDF documents


  • Offer a complete set of PDF drawing markup tools, such as lines and arrows.
  • All the commonly needed PDF tools are provided, such as PDF editor and converter.
  • Save your storage space with a small megabyte size of application.
  • Superior performance to load and process files smoothly and instantly.
  • Patient and problem-solving customer service.


  • No Mac or mobile version currently.

2. Foxit Reader - Windows/Mac

Foxit PDF Reader is one of the best free cross-platform PDF markup tools. The software is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android. No matter where you are and what device you’re using, you can view, form fill, protect, sign, and annotate PDF files with it. By leveraging the PDF markup software, it’s simple to add images, videos, and file attachments to a PDF document.

PDF markup software tool Foxit Reader

PDF markup tools such as freehand line, underline and strikethrough are offered with the Foxit software. An outstanding capability of Foxit Reader is it allows you to customize and deploy menu and configuration settings as you like.


  • Mark up PDFs for free.
  • Form filling and JavaScript disabling features.
  • Support all the major desktop and mobile operating systems.


  • It hangs and gets stuck sometimes.
  • Its premium version prices high.

3. Adobe Acrobat Reader - Windows/Mac

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is a free PDF markup tool for you to draw on a PDF file effortlessly. The software application is the most famous PDF solution in the industry. Its other features, including signing and filling out forms in PDFs, are also no-charge. Adobe Reader integrates with cloud storage services, so you can share your files and collaborate with others conveniently after making edits. The best free PDF markup software can be downloaded for Windows and Mac.

PDF markup software tool Adobe Acrobat Reader

To access the PDF markup tools in Adobe Reader DC, open a PDF in Adobe and click “Comment” in the right tools pane or navigate to “Tools” > “Comment”.


  • More dependable than lots of other PDF editing tools, as the creator of PDF.
  • Highlight, take notes, draw shapes, and add text boxes on PDFs.
  • It has plugins for Microsoft Office programs, so you can create Adobe PDF files without a hassle from office documents.


  • Slow to launch and respond, bringing a negative experience.
  • Its program is big in size and takes up many system resources or RAM.

4. Drawboard PDF - Windows/Online

To mark up a PDF file for free, you can turn to Drawboard PDF. It is an amazing PDF reader, annotator, and editor created for controlling PDFs on the go. All the basic features of the PDF markup tool are free to use with no ads. It allows you to insert rectangles, polylines, and clouds, and highlight text to add annotations and feedback to a PDF. You can export annotated pages or send the annotated PDFs to the cloud to mark up with others in real time.

PDF markup software tool Drawboard PDF

The PDF markup software is one of the top-rated free markup tools for architects, planners and engineers.


  • Add and edit markups within PDF files on desktops, phones, and online.
  • Mark up any PDF with a stylus, Apple pencil, or mouse cursor.
  • Modern and fashion interface.


  • The drawback is that the program lags a bit when you draw and highlight text.

5. Preview - Mac

If you are a Mac user, you have the native and free software to mark up PDF files on macOS, which is Preview. In Preview, you have at your reach a series of PDF markup tools to add annotations in your PDF. The excellent freeware has a PDF highlighter, note-taking tool, shape drawing tool, and text adding tool. It is also a good solution for PDF separation, combination and signing.

PDF markup software tool Preview

The PDF markup software app can help combine images into a PDF or convert PDF to image format.


  • Trustworthy PDF viewer with markup tools, offered by Apple Inc.
  • No download or installation need.
  • It can act as a PDF to image converter or vice versa, a PDF merger and splitter.


  • It doesn’t have the ability to edit existing text in PDFs.
  • Mac-only app.

6. PDF Expert - Mac

PDF Expert is another great PDF markup and editing software. It packed powerful PDF drawing markup tools for free use in a well-designed and intuitive interface. The software allows for typical annotations, including inserting shapes and supports changing the annotation color, opacity, and thickness. It also has most features you may need from a PDF editor, such as editing PDF text, images, or links, adding signatures, and organizing PDF pages.

PDF markup software tool PDF Expert

Moreover, you can utilize the software’s OCR tool and form filler to recognize text in scanned files and complete various forms. The best PDF markup tool is designed for Mac, iOS, and iPad.


  • Mark up, edit, and manage PDF documents.
  • Tackle large PDF files without lags.
  • Any changes on your device will be synced to the cloud and all your Apple devices.


  • This PDF drawing app is available for Apple devices only.

7. PDFescape - Online

PDFescape online PDF editor is a free markup tool for PDF documents annotating. There is a lot you can do with the browser-based software. You can draw all the regular shapes, add form fields, rotate, crop, and reorder PDF pages. The best free online PDF markup tool can be used without account registration. However, free unregistered users cannot upload files over 100 pages or 10MB.

PDF markup software tool PDFescape


  • Allow you to create fillable forms and rearrange PDF pages.
  • The ability to insert and whiteout text.
  • Its free service doesn’t require an account.


  • Out-dated and old interface.
  • A little slow to run.


If you want to review and mark up your PDF documents for free, the 7 PDF markup tools in this post are the best to adopt. SwifDoo PDF has all the necessary PDF editing tools to help you with almost any of your document needs. It is super cost-effective PDF markup software for Windows PC. In terms of annotating a PDF on Mac, you can get a third-party PDF markup program or take advantage of the built-in Preview app.

There is never a lack of free PDF annotation software on the market, including open source editors with a PDF markup tool. What’s important is you should choose the one that suits your needs and budget. It’s better small and quick to use.


Charlotte has been in the software industry for 8+ years. She works for AWZWARE now as a passionate writer. She is good at providing simple guides to use various video, office and entertainment software. Charlotte also recommends many other useful tools to make your work and life easier. A food lover too.

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