PDF-annotation apps (I made this in Canva on 2021-12-26).png

Apps compared: GoodNotes, GoodReader, Highlights, iAnnotate, PDF Expert, Zotero iOS

Also discussed: LiquidText, MarginNote, Nebo, Notability, Obsidian, ZoomNotes, Zotero for Mac

Also mentioned: Collanote, Flexcil, Roam, Scribble (iPad feature), TextSoap (for removing unwanted characters and spaces in text), Zettlr, ZKN3, Zotfile (Zotero add-on)

Whom this piece is for

This piece will be of most interest to people who work with PDFs and are

What is the best iPad PDF-annotation app?

Of course, what qualifies as the best PDF-annotation app depends on whether it has features that align with the purposes you want your annotating to serve. And yet I don’t say much in this piece, at least not explicitly, about the purposes or aims of annotating.

Nevertheless, even if you don’t already have a good idea of the purposes you want your PDF annotating to serve, this piece should be of some use to you, if only because learning about various features of PDF-annotation apps can inspire thoughts about the purposes your annotating may serve.

It is in the second of the five sections listed below (the ones in green) that I lay out the features I would like a PDF-annotation app to have. You may start there or with the one of the other sections, depending on what you want out of a PDF-annotation app.

<aside> 💥 Click on the triangles to disclose the content hidden beneath them.


I’m “old school” and want to take things up just a notch or two

I want an app that plays well with the app(s) I use to make connections

I want an app that lets me make connections inside of it