Best PDF Annotation Software

I’m on the hunt for a good annotation program for my SP8. My old standby, Drawboard PDF, just seems to have gotten “clumsy” - more difficult to use and manipulate PDF’s. My primary need is just to markup (handwritten) a PDF - Adobe Acrobat Pro DC does all teh heavy lifting I need for reorganizing pages, merging files, etc.

Those are the things I haven’t found a good alternative app to do.

For just annotating PDFs have you tried LiquidText or Xodo?

It’s annoying though how all of these apps (Drawboard, LiquidText, and Xodo) have turned into basically advertisements for each company’s cloud services / subscriptions.


Havent found anything I like more than drawboard when using widows.


Bingo - annoying doesn’t describe it. I’m going to try PDFelement and PDF Annotator, but they both look and act like Windows XP applications.

Dont waste your time and money on Annotator. Drawboard is better.


What about plug-ins for Acrobat?

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Never tried that - will give it a look.

I like Xodo both on Android and windows, but DrawBoard keeps getting new features.

Still quite happy with Drawboard. In the old days I would occasionally have a crash, but haven’t seen one for years. The UI is still a bit too convoluted for my liking, but it works well enough. Seems to be pretty easy on the battery too.

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Other than drawboard being a tad slow to open up, I still prefer it over Acrobat.


Yeah good point, “a tad slow” is putting it kindly! :slight_smile: For simple reading I actually use Acrobat, but for PDF markup it’s Drawboard all the way.

I’ve been looking into this too and am open to suggestions.
I’ve been using Xournal++ for the past couple of days, it’s pretty good, but I have had it crash a couple of times - unsure why.
I wish the icons were larger for just working in tablet mode, there might be a setting buried somewhere.

I’d tried it before, but the last it wasn’t great.

Just gave it another shot. It’s much better with a very simple design, but very feature rich! Very low system resource use so far too. The only issue is the UI doesn’t seem to be that customisable and it is very ‘GTK3’. It doesn’t really fit in with Windows and it, to me, it’s somewhat ugly.

Definitely a keeper though!

Anybody having trouble with Drawboard today? The updated “new tab” experience doesn’t show “recent files” as an option, so I can’t pick a recent file for the second tab. I hope I’m overlooking some obvious option.

Edit: found it, not that obvious imo though. You get there by closing the “new tab” dialog and hitting the icon in the very top left of the window.

I`m new to the Surface series and looking for an upgrade to Edge, but as I’m rather an occasional user, Drawbored and PDF Annotator are a bit too expensive for me. I guess a 40 $ one time price would be my max.

For Free options I’m tied between Xodo and Xjournal.


  • Attractive, modern looking interface
  • easy opacity adjustments for inking
  • can’t turn “draw with finger” off, mainly with highliter. So l have to quit highlighting, when l wanna pan or zoom.
  • takes a while to launch
  • you need to switch into editing mode, before you can access inking tools


  • Very versatile (and a lot of settings available)
  • customizable toolbars (sadly not in size)
  • made for inking (instant access to relevant tools)
  • old fashioned, not very touch friendly interface
  • panning/scrolling and zooming performance is meh
  • no support for standard PDF annotation and comments tools

In conclusion, Xjournal is great for Inking and Xodo is valuable replacement for other PDF readers.

The free version of Drawboard is pretty full-featured, which features do you need that are not included?


I’d recommend Drawboard PDF as well (from my MS days).

:man_facepalming:my bad, I thought Drawboard is subscription only

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I use drawboard for most annotation and for signing PDF documents. It’s probably the best of the limited options available. I had PDF Annotator for the longest time but keeping up with the subscriptions is tedious and expensive over time. The other free annotation programs were too limited for my use. Does Xodo still have a free version? That was decent as well.

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