On Windows, I have found Foxit Reader to be quite handy when I need to highlight texts in PDF document, make annotations, etc. etc. Unfortunately, I have not yet found product as user friendly (which also does not corrupt PDF files...) and full-featured as Foxit software...

Any recommendations?

** UPDATE **

I just tried the Open Office PDF import extension. It seems to work ok... If anyone used it for a while, I'd appreciate your feedback on that one. Thanks!

** UPDATE **

You can't highlight text with OpenOffice's PDF extension.

Doesn't matter, I was reading this thread and found out about Xournal Install xournal. As it turns out, it's in the repository. It does not natively save in PDF, but once all edits are done, the document can be exported to PDF (and overwrite the old one, just like Gimp with the native .XCE format and original PNG file, for example)

I realize that this question is no longer a question in itself, but could be migrated to community wiki. However, feedbacks are still welcome!

** EDIT **

So... to close up this question, I have to say that I adopted Xournal Install xournal. It is light and works pretty well, even on multi-page PDF documents.

Thank you all for your answers!

  • Have you tried pdf-merge and pdf-split. These two apps can easily be installed via ubuntu tweak.
    – tinhed
    Nov 10 '10 at 6:28
  • 1
    Look also this question: askubuntu.com/questions/1529/how-can-i-highlight-pdfs Here you can find the best GNU/Linux program for annotate and highlight your pdf. Nov 10 '10 at 13:34
  • 3
    your last edit should be an answer! Jan 22 '11 at 3:50
  • @Jorge Castro, I thought about how this question should be closed... since I'm not fully satisfied with any of the answers proposed, I'm currently debating how I should pursue with this; should I answer and promote my own answer, linking this said answer to the related question proposed by neuromancer? Jan 22 '11 at 4:07
  • Yep, that's exactly how it works, then when you've accepted it we'll go back and remove these comments. Great job! Jan 22 '11 at 4:35

You can always try evince, okular or even Acrobat Reader from Software Center.

Or install wine and just use Foxit Reader.

  • 1
    Okular is the most similar to Foxit Reader, if you want to edit, make notes, highlight, etc. I really recommend it. Jun 18 '11 at 11:37

If you do not mind using wine, my recommendation would be to use PDF-Xchange with wine, I found PDF-Xchange, the portable version, to be the best wine based solution, you can use it to annotate, update pdf metadata, measure page, fill out and save forms, and a few more things, there will be no watermarks in saved pdfs, its rendering of pdf documents is blindingly fast, it puts Adobe Acrobat Reader running on any platform to shame even when it is running under wine, I have annotated and updated the metadata of hundreds of documents with this tool and have no problems with PDF corruption, in fact it will offer to fix xref tables in documents corrupted by pdfmod or other pdf software, it is available here: http://www.tracker-software.com/product/pdf-xchange-viewer, it runs beautifully under wine. I wished a free product like this was available natively for Linux.

There is a commercial Java based system called, PDF Studio available here: http://www.qoppa.com/pdfstudio/index.html Claims to do a lot, similar to Adobe Acrobat Professional, runs natively on Linux, I do not know how good it is, I think they offer a free trial copy so if you do not mind commercial applications you could check it out.

  • I have to admit, the free version has everything the common soul needs to edit PDF. Thank you for suggesting it Nov 10 '10 at 6:16

Foxit Reader for Desktop Linux

  • can you actually highlight and annotate text (add text etc.) ? In the Windows version, it adds a watermark (to which I had to sadly download another version [...] so I would not have the watermark on the annotated PDF I handed back. Nov 10 '10 at 3:56
  • I don't know. I never actually used it, but I thought you could not be aware that there is a Linux version. However, I have seen many users recommending it on ubuntu forums. BTW, I used Foxit Reader when I was a Windows user. It was indeed the best reader. Nov 10 '10 at 4:00
  • It's fast, but fonts not so good for me...
    – Extender
    Nov 10 '10 at 4:08
  • 5
    No, Foxit Reader for Linux doesn't permit to highlight and annotate. It have only a little subset of features respect to windows version :( Nov 10 '10 at 13:32

Based on neuromancer's comment, I have tested many tools and, even to this day, 2 years after this question was asked, Xournal Install xournal is still the best PDF annotation tool.

By creating a layer on top of the PDF document (which acts as a "background"), it does not directly modify the edited PDF and allows highlighting and adding text.

It might not be the software I was expecting in the first place, but definitely does the job.

  • and what about storing annotations on the pdf? whats the point if you dont count portability of your annotations? I had okular and i realised that annotations were not stored on the pdf making it useless if i wanted to read them in another pc. :/
    – BugShotGG
    Jan 29 '13 at 0:07
  • Xournal saves the later in a separate file, along with the PDF. You can still have your PDF unmodified and you only have to install and load the xournal file. Works on all OS. Of course, you need to have two files (that you could just tar or zip...) but if you need to publish the annotated PDF, use the export tool in Xournal and voilà. It's light and works quite well. Jan 29 '13 at 0:24

I would suggest Master PDF editor. It is available from the Software Centre, and provides a fully featured PDF and XPF document editor.

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  • This one is similar to Okular in that you have to keep selecting the highlight text tool for subsequent highlights, which can be annoying if you're trying to highlight text here and there while skimming through a document. It has a bit more precision with the highlighting areas, even if the cross-hairs are a bit clunky (compared to a more standard text select tool for highlighting). It's got some nice form creation tools and lets you edit text in an existing PDF with ease but is still lacking in its document review features.
    – Adam
    May 6 '14 at 15:13
  • @Adam I didn't use any older version of it, but this limitation no longer exists now. code-industry.net/masterpdfeditor
    – hafiz031
    Jun 16 '21 at 17:51

A linux version of foxit reader is available for linux. see at http://www.foxitsoftware.com/products/reader/non.php

Be aware that this is not an open-source/free software !

  • Linux version of foxit reader is garbage, it keeps on crashing. So, if possible it is preferable to use the windows version and run it through wine.
    – hafiz031
    Jun 16 '21 at 17:37

As Sabacon mentioned, there is PDF Studio a java based tool that is very comprehensive. There's an evaluation version that adds watermarks on documents. To get rid of the watermarks, you have to pay.


PDF-Xcahnge Viewer is a great tool to annotate PDFs (even though add/remove/move pages is available only in the paid version).

This is a Windows program, but work flawlessly on Wine.

  • 1
    I agree with you, but PDF-Xchange viewer has been posted before as an answer. Apr 15 '13 at 15:51

I would like to elaborate 'sabacon' answer. Though there are many open source pdf editors available including 'PDF studio' but they seem to have less functionality and stability. Believe me I have used all possible pdf editors and I was so frustrated that I proposed to write one for my Masters project. Finally I settled on PDFXchange viewer on Linux with wine. I use it on Windows all the time and is feature rich just like a professional editor. All you have to do is install it using wine.

From my experience I have found that it does not work well will 64 bit Wine so you may want to make a wine prefix (32 bit) and install it there. You can go to link below for steps to install on Linux: http://atulkakrana.blogspot.com/2012/09/install-pdf-reader-in-ubuntu.html


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