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I am generating PDF files with pdflatex and I would like my PDF to allow comments/annotations (without having to use Acrobat Professional to write the comments). pdflatex cannot enable comments in PDF files. Is there a free software that can activate this functionality on existing PDF files?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

If with "activate this functionality" you mean make it available in Adobe Acrobat Reader, then the answer is no, there is not such software. See an answer I wrote for a similiar question here.

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OK. Thank you... Do you know free software that can add annotations then? – ℝaphink Apr 28 '11 at 16:54
You can try with PDFEdit ( but I have not used it myself... There might be other though. There is a comparison page here – yms Apr 28 '11 at 17:04
PDFStudio can add annotations for example, but it's paid... – ℝaphink Apr 28 '11 at 17:11
Amyuni PDF Creator also (I work for them actually) but you specified "Free", that's why I did not mention it before. – yms Apr 28 '11 at 17:17
PDFEDit works fine, thanks. Foxit is also a good one for Windows actually. – ℝaphink Apr 29 '11 at 9:32

You can use Ghostscript to add annotations to a PDF file. Is that free enough for you? Try something like this:

 gs \
   -o commented-output.pdf \
   -sDEVICE=pdfwrite \
   -c "[ /Rect [ 75 400 175 550 ] \
         /Open true \
         /Title (Important note) \
         /Contents (This document is a preliminary version\!) \
         /Color [1 0 0] \
         /ANN pdfmark" \
   -f uncommmented-input.pdf

If you want to know more about this method, you need to read up about the pdfmark operator in PostScript/PDF. For acquiring first familiarity with pdfmark, see first here:

then here:

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My original question was actually how to activate comments in the PDF file so people using standard Acrobat Reader could comment. If I had to add comments in the original PDF, I could do so directly with LaTeX. On the other hands, since my goal is to let (mainly non-tech) users comments on my PDFs, I think I'm just going to tell them to use FoxitReader. – ℝaphink May 1 '11 at 5:59
@Raphink: Oh, sorry... in that case I misread your question. – Kurt Pfeifle May 1 '11 at 9:38
@Raphink: BTW, FoxitReaderPortable (from ) works well for me even inside Wine on Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick... – Kurt Pfeifle May 1 '11 at 9:43
Actually, I'm using FoxitReader in wine, and it works fine, too (on Natty). – ℝaphink May 1 '11 at 15:50

I used PDF-XChange Viewer. Annotation and highlighting was free in that time.
There are interesting online services for annotation like A.nnotate or Crocodoc.
Here is an article about other possibilities.

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I've read about A.nnotate. I'm not sure about using an online service if I don't have to. The goal is collaboration though, and with possibly several reviewers and many versions of the same document. Would A.nnotate help with that? – ℝaphink May 1 '11 at 15:51
Here is described the possibility of collaboration. – xralf May 1 '11 at 16:06
I found yet another interesting software that supports collaborative pdf annotation. – xralf May 1 '11 at 16:18
Just having a look at A.nnotate and crocodoc. A.nnotate has some free credits to upload files, but I need to upload a new version everyday, of up to 300 pages, so that won't do. Crocodoc looks nicer (to my taste at least) and has a free API which allows to upload new documents. The only thing I'd like to see in both is the ability to replace a document with a new version. From what I see, you have to create a shared folder and upload new documents in it (in crocodoc at least). – ℝaphink May 1 '11 at 17:28
Other possibility is to convert the pdf file into images. In Linux you can use pdftk file.pdf burst; for i in pg*.pdf; do convert -density 300 "$i" "${i%.*}.jpg"; done You can upload the images to some image hosting service (like Flickr) there is possibility to write comments to images. But your images won't be editable. Or you can convert (OCR) it to html and use Diigo – xralf May 1 '11 at 17:40

You can add annotations in evince. You do this by going to the panel on the left in evince (press F9 if you don't have one) and selecting annotations. To add an annotation you then click the add button and then the pencil button. Be warned though, you can't delete annotations.

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