How to highlight text in PDF file on Windows and Mac

When viewing documents in Word, it’s easy to select and highlight certain texts but can you do the same in a PDF file? Certainly yes. A lot of people want to highlight parts of a document in order to emphasize importance. You may also want to highlight certain words and sentences to draw attention to the most essential parts.

Find out how to highlight PDF text through the following solutions:

Method 1: Adobe Reader (Free)

Adobe Reader 9 has a Highlight Text Tool which you can use in PDF documents that enable commenting.

Follow these three quick steps to highlight text in PDF file:

Step 1: Open your document in Adobe Reader 9.

Step 2: Go to Tools > Commenting and Markup> Highlight Text Tool.

Step 3: Point and click your cursor next to the words that you want to highlight. Drag and release the Highlight Text Tool over the text. For Mac users, hold the Option key to highlight a rectangular text area, and for Windows users, hold the Ctrl key as you drag the tool over the area.

highlight texts with Adobe Reader

Keep in mind that this method only works if commenting has been enabled in your PDF. Otherwise, proceed to the next two methods detailed below.

Method 2: Preview app to highlight text in a PDF for Mac OS users

For Mac users, use the Preview app to highlight selected texts.

Step 1: Open the document in Preview.

Step 2: Click Tools >Annotate > Highlight Text.

Step 3: Find the text you want to highlight, and drag your mouse over it.

highlight text with preview app

Method 3: Highlight PDF text with Apowersoft PDF Editor

Apowersoft PDF Editor is a versatile editing tool that can also serve as an efficient PDF text highlighter. It lets you edit your PDF files in various modes including highlighting texts. A great thing about this software is that it provides a variety of useful functions for editing PDF. Plus, it’s compatible with both Windows and Mac.


Aside from highlights, you can easily add strikethroughs and underlines to any selected part of the document.

Here’s how:

Step 1: Upon opening your PDF document, click Home > Highlight. You can find this tool at the right side under the Home menu.

Step 2: Find the text you wish to highlight, and drag the tool over it.

Step 3: Save the PDF.

highlight text with PDF editor

Comparing the Three PDF Text Highlighting Methods

Adobe Reader is a freeware basically used for accessing and viewing documents in PDF format. It’s also an effective tool for highlighting texts. However, take note that it only allows you to highlight text in a PDF if your document enables commenting. If the file doesn’t allow commenting, then you’ll have to use the other alternative methods mentioned.

You may use the Preview app if you’re a Mac user. It’s easy to use but only applicable for Mac OS. If you’re a Windows user, or you want a tool that’s compatible with both Windows and Mac computers, Apowersoft PDF Editor is best recommended. This PDF text highlighter has a streamlined interface that’s quite easy to handle even for beginner users. With its wide array of PDF editing functions, you’ll surely find this tool efficient for various PDF managing and editing needs aside from highlighting texts.

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Posted by: on August 1, 2013 to PDF Solution and Tips, Follow me on Twitter

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