What PDF annotation tool on Linux?

Hello all!

For those on Linux, what PDF annotation tool do you use? I've looked around fair bit, but haven't really found anything great + native. The built-in tool (Ubuntu 19.10) cannot 'highlight + overwrite', so it's not useful for use with Zotero and ZotFile. There's an old version of Acrobat, but it's really clunky.

Any ideas for a great PDF annotator on Linux?

  • Hi,
    I installed Master PDF editor:
    Didnt use it much tho, so no expert - give it a try and see.
  • Thank you - will check it out!
  • Looks really good - thank you!!
  • I would highly recommend taking a look at Okular (the native viewer for KDE, but can be installed in Ubuntu/GNOME or even Windows). It can highlight, annotate, and mark up PDFs using a huge list of different tools: https://docs.kde.org/stable5/en/kdegraphics/okular/annotations.html

    Used in combination with ZotFile (http://zotfile.com/) for extracting the annotations, this provides (IMO) the perfect workflow for working with PDFs in Zotero:

    With Okular as the default viewer, just open any PDF in Zotero, highlight/annotate as necessary, save, then right click the entry in Zotero and select "Extract Annotations" from the context menu. All your annotations get auto-saved into a new note. This has saved literally hundreds of hours of manual work copy-pasting notes and highlights from articles.
  • Thank you - will look!
  • There is also a lightweight version of FoxitReader for Linux https://www.linuxbabe.com/desktop-linux/install-foxit-pdf-reader-ubuntu.

    I believe all readers mentioned here are good, but still has some level of issues. masterpdfeditor is probably the most capable, but has some rough edges like strange zooming, tab length that doesn't shrink for PDFs with long names, etc. Okular used to have a problem with annotations not being saved in standard format and requires KDE to be installed. Foxit sometimes doesn't save files properly when opened from the terminal and has some interface glitches.

    I don't think there is a PDF annotations solution on Linux that is on par with what you can get on other OSes, the closest might be to run PDF XChange via wine, but that also has some issues. I switch between Foxit and Masterpdfeditor depending on which release is the smoothest at the moment. I have PDFXchange via wine as a fallback.
  • Thank you, that's helpful to know, thanks for the tips!
  • I still use one or another from PDF Xchange, Foxit for specific features (signed pdf or OCR detection), but I have to say that okular is a very reliable to annotating features. I use it for 99% of tasks. It is very hard to see it crushing, what happened a lot with others. Never had problems with annotations.
    Althoug I use Fedora KDE, I think nowadays you can install just okular itself via flatpak in flathub repositories.
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