I use Evince a lot and I have also tried other alternatives. I just love the smoothness of Evince. Recently, I have the need to highlight text in pdf files. Is it possible to do that in Evince?

  • Do you want to highlight text to e.g. copy it to the clipboard, or do you want to modify the PDF file such that the text appears highlighted?
    – user533208
    May 2, 2016 at 19:08
  • If you trust the documentation, yes: help.gnome.org/users/evince/stable/annotations.html.en I have never tried it though, I use Okular or qpdfview when I need to. Usually they all consider highlighting an annotation, so you might want to search for annotation tools in whichever PDF viewer you use.
    – muru
    May 2, 2016 at 19:10
  • Hi I want to modify text such that text appears highlighted :)
    – ezE
    May 2, 2016 at 19:16
  • Yep the annotation works perfectly but i want to highlight text to diff colors
    – ezE
    May 2, 2016 at 19:17

3 Answers 3


You can use Annotate the document button. Then move to the annotation and click right button, annotation properties, and then select the color.

See http://www.debugpoint.com/2016/05/evince-3-18-2-comes-with-text-and-highlight-annotation-in-ubuntu-16-04/ for visual support (for evince 3.18.2+)

  • Thanks i am not being able to right click the annotation, but anyway i found a workaround to bookmark the page so it is quite convenient :)
    – ezE
    May 2, 2016 at 20:32
  • For anyone else that comes across this, the annotate button is next to the search button. Click it first, then two more buttons appear. Click the one that says Add highlight annotation, your cursor will change and then you can select text to highlight, with an optional note. Jun 10, 2017 at 2:04
  • Not so handy in my case (evince 3.10.3) You need to have the sidebar open to access the tab where you have annotations (F9 does). Then, I find no highlight tool and removing the annotation pads is not as immediate as help.gnome.org/users/evince/stable/index.html.en makes believe. If I right-click on a tab, I get the menu of the underlying document, or at least it's hard to get the focus on the tab. Added: highlighting is a feature of evince 3.8.12 but the one I have is the shipping of Ubuntu 14.04 Jul 25, 2017 at 18:52
  • 4
    Is there a keyboard shortcut for higlight annotations?
    – a06e
    Apr 12, 2018 at 14:37
  • Note: becko posted the keyboard shortcut question as an 'official' question here now, although an answer is still missing. Aug 13, 2018 at 19:25

To answer @kiara Grouwstra and @becko question concerning shortcut:

  • Ctrl + H: highlight text
  • S: add a post-it like note
  • Ctrl + D: Add a bookmark

As suggested already, the keybindings Ctrl + H and S can be used to highlight and annotate text. However, this feature is present in evince 3.30+ [1] [2]. Ubuntu 18.04 ships evince 3.28.

So to get the keybindings in Ubuntu 18, I installed the latest version of evince from snap, as suggested by this answer (currently it is 40.4 as opposed to apt's 3.28.4).

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