In Adobe Acrobat Pro you can do things like put little sticky notes in PDFs, highlight text, and create bookmarks. I have found this very useful for learning. In school you learn better when you put your notes right in the textbook. Some of the material is now delivered in pdf form.

However I've switched to Linux. I find that there are several programs that can read PDFs, but they can't do all those useful things I just mentioned.

Are there any linux programs that can? I found a program that converts pdfs to ps format. If I convert a pdf to a ps file, are there programs that let you do these kinds of things?

  • 3
    Nowadays, libpoppler already supports annotations, evince has been getting support to read it (already there) and support to add and change (there were still some issues last time I checked). But I'd advise against using PDF annotations -- as of today these are still not that widely supported, and it seems most viewers don't have a way to print the PDF with the annotations. At least with xournal you can extract vectorial annotations (even handwritten ones) and anyone who gets it in PDF form will be able to both read and print.
    – njsg
    Feb 11, 2013 at 11:56
  • mupdf has a nice OpenGL interface for annotation manipulation (among other features), which has an old-style xpdf aesthetic (pre-version 4) that I personally like better than e.g. evince's. Taking a quick glance at its GIT repository, the project seems to be quite active.
    – Vicky
    Jun 29, 2022 at 20:01

6 Answers 6


Xournal can be used to annotate PDFs (and with proper text, not just like the rather whimsical screenshot).


I've used it to fill in non-interactive PDF forms.

  • finally.. found some pdf reader on par with Adobe's.. where were you Xournal for the last six years.. :(
    – MycrofD
    Sep 19, 2018 at 7:13
  • Xournal is great as a replacement for OneNote, but it sucks for annotating pdfs. You always need to export (not save as...) the edited document as a pdf which takes a lot more time and increases the file size tremendously. My recommendation is to use Xournal for single/ double page pdfs that you need to sign for example, but use Okular, or Foxit (which has better text and ink support than Okular) to annotate big documents such as textbooks.
    – bruno
    Apr 11, 2020 at 18:45

If you are using KDE, you can try Okular, the standard document viewer of this desktop environment. When in review mode, it can add a large number of highlights and annotations to PDF files

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  • 4
    One problem with Okular is that you can't resize inline annotations. It's been on the bug list for 6+ years now, so no telling if that's actually going to get fixed. Jul 27, 2015 at 18:53
  • 3
    Another poblem is, that other pdf-viewers dont display the annotations
    – Alex
    Jun 17, 2016 at 10:29
  • @WilliamEverett it seems to be fixed now.
    – Ruslan
    Aug 10, 2020 at 22:33

The Foxit Reader is also available in a native version for Linux and offers a plethora of annotation features.

Software: https://www.foxitsoftware.com/products/pdf-reader/


  • 1
    Indeed. Tried Foxit now, and it is by far the best solution I've came across on Linux. Feb 8, 2019 at 10:17
  • As of 2020 it is indeed the best option for annotating big documents such as textbooks
    – bruno
    Apr 11, 2020 at 18:46

I use pdfescape and edit my pdfs online. The comments are saved to the original pdf. http://www.pdfescape.com/

Update: Master PDF editor, which is free for linux (non-commercial use), is also a good option. I have been using this for almost a year now, and it suits most of my needs.

  • An edit was submitted by an anonymous user claiming to be you. If that was yours and you want to edit your own answer, you need to do it under the original user name and eliminate the duplicate login.
    – fixer1234
    Dec 12, 2014 at 6:18

Mendeley can do all of this, plus it is an awesome software for keeping track of your PDF:s (with searching, tagging etc). Also, PDF XChange Viewer is a free windows program that can do this too, and works well under Wine (it's even very fast). I have used both of these for taking notes during my engineering studies.

  • 1
    I tried Mendeley.. Other pdf readers cannot display the annotations properly.. they look broken..
    – MycrofD
    Sep 19, 2018 at 7:16

Adobe Reader X can add Sticky Notes (Crtl-6) to PDFs. At least in Windows it can. You might want to try this in Linux.

  • 1
    Adobe Reader can add comments only if the original PDF enables adding comments (and only paid versions of Adobe can create such a PDF).
    – choroba
    Jan 19, 2012 at 14:49
  • 5
    No adobe Reader X for Linux will be found currently.
    – kamae
    Feb 29, 2012 at 18:45
  • helpx.adobe.com/security/products/reader-linux.html shows the development of Adobe Reader for Linux stopped with v9.
    – K7AAY
    Aug 20, 2018 at 18:19

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