How to Mark Up a PDF on the iPad

November 20, 2020

If you’ve ever Googled “pdf annotation software” or “pdf editor” you know the pain of trying to mark up a PDF on the computer.

Thankfully, if you have an iPad and an Apple Pencil, you’ll never again have to worry about fiddling with clunky computer software whenever you need to sign a PDF or take notes on your lecture slides.

Today, we’ll show you how you can easily highlight, mark up, or sign any PDF on the iPad. We’re using Goodnotes!

What You’ll Need:

  • An iPad
  • An Apple Pencil
  • A note-taking app like GoodNotes

Step 1: Import or download PDFs to your iPad

There are two easy ways you can do this.

Import PDFs from Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, and more

GoodNotes can import any PDF, image, PowerPoint or Word document through the Files app on the iPad, which also connects to multiple cloud storage systems, like iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, and more.

You can also easily drag and drop files to import them into GoodNotes.

Instantly download a PDF from Safari (or another app)

Tap the share button > Open in Goodnotes. Voila!

It even works for web pages. For example, if you want to mark up an interesting article you found online, you can grab the “clean” version by converting to Reader View and then opening it in Goodnotes.

(If you want to mark up an email, the process is slightly different.)

Goodnotes Tip: When importing a PDF you can either add it as a new document, or add it to an existing notebook. For example, if you’re downloading lecture slides for CHEM101, you can add them to the same notebook you take study notes for that class with. The paper equivalent would be if you printed out your lecture slides and slipped them in the same binder with the rest of the notes from that class.

Step 2: Freely mark up and highlight your PDF with the Apple Pencil

You now have the same freedom of highlighting, drawing, scribbling on paper, but everything is digitized and searchable (yes, even your handwriting!).

Here’s why using a note-taking app to mark up your PDFs offers a much better experience:

  • You can zoom in to make notes precisely where you want them to be — in-between lines, for example
  • You can draw arrows, doodles, and shapes without switching tools
  • You can resize and move around annotations to exactly the right spot
  • You can write anywhere on the page

Goodnotes Tip: Using your finger alone, you can also highlight or strikeout text too with a long-press.

Step 3: Export, Share, and Collaborate

A lot of Goodnotes users use the note-taking app as their PDF reader of choice. Students in particular like to keep their textbooks in-app and on their iPad.

However, if you need to loop other people in, Goodnotes makes it easy. You can export your edited PDF, and immediately email it, save it, or send it to another app. What’s more, if you turn on auto-backup in Goodnotes, you’ll be able to view your edited PDFs automatically in Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive.

How to collaborate & mark up the same PDF with others

Ever wish you had link-sharing collaboration capabilities for PDFs?

Goodnotes can do that. For example, if you want to take notes on the same lecture slides together with your classmates, or if you want to quickly go over a proposal with a colleague at the same time, you can turn on link sharing and create a Shared Document in Goodnotes.

Mark up PDFs on the iPad (& more) with Goodnotes

The next time you need to sign a PDF, mark up a textbook or article, or take notes on your lecture slides, use Goodnotes.

Goodnotes is one of the leading note-taking apps on the app store, and takes your note-taking to the next level:

  • Take beautiful handwritten digital notes on the iPad
  • Search your handwriting (and text in PDFs) so you never lose any notes or articles ever again
  • Automatically sync your notes to iCloud, so you can view your notes on your phone or computer and keep them safe and secure

Get Goodnotes today, and start marking up your PDFs on the iPad.

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