Highlights: PDF Reader & Notes 4+

Edit Research Documents/Books

Jonas Myren Ribe

    • 4.6 • 527 Ratings
    • Free
    • Offers In-App Purchases


The PDF reader optimized for research on Mac, iPad & iPhone. Turn your annotations into powerful notes and export them anywhere, so you can focus on the bigger picture.

"It’s the novel approach to PDF annotation that makes this app a cut above the rest"- TapSmart.com

"A simple and effective tool for helping you strip key information out of research PDFs." - iCreate Magazine, Issue 221

"... an app that students, academics, and anyone who does substantial amounts of PDF-based research should try" - Macstories.net

Highlights is a fast and lightweight PDF reader (under 10MB) packed with features to help with your research.

Free users have access to standard PDF reader features including document browsing, reading and annotating. There are NO ADS, time limits or tracking.

Context aware annotation popovers gives you powerful tools at your finger tips. Default annotation colors prevents you from having to repeatedly setting the color for the same type of annotation every time.

As you markup text and images the contents are extracted and sorted into notes. You can customize the formatting further and sort the annotations chronologically using your own color coding.

Convert images containing text or tables to actual text and tables using machine learning - letting you get to the underlying data with a single tap.

Copy annotations to the desired format — text markup as text and image selections as images, but tables as CSV and citations as BibTex.

Markup any reference and tap the link icon to look it up. Highlights will fetch DOI-links and even check if you have read the work already or have it in your reference manager library.

Export your notes as files (Markdown, HTML, TextBundle, WebArchive or PDF files) or open them directly in your favorite shoebox application (including Ulysses, Evernote, Bear, DEVONThink, Keep It, and Apple Notes).

• Night and Sepia PDF appearances
• Automatically save notes as a sidecar Markdown file
• Multi-lingual text recognition
• Default annotation colors
• Integration with reference managers like Paper and Bookends
• Integration with DEVONthink

For a full list of features see: highlightsapp.net/features

The Highlights Pro subscription unlocks advanced features for extracting information including table and text recognition, customizability, citation lookups, Smart Copy and export options for other apps and easily editable formats.

Highlights Pro includes a 14-day free trial and is available for $2.99 (US) monthly or $24.99 (US) yearly (a 30% discount). You can cancel your subscription at any time. The subscription will automatically renew unless auto-renew is turned off within 24-hour prior to the end of of the current period.

Payments will be charged to your iTunes account and your account will be charged within 24-hours prior to the end of the current period. Any unused portion of a free trial period will be forfeited when you purchase a subscription.

For more information about Highlights Pro: highlightsapp.net/pro

Privacy Policy and Terms: highlightsapp.net/privacy

What’s New

Version 2021.1.1

Lots of new tutorials! (Help > Tutorials)

And much more:
- New default orange accent color
- Updated export icons for Ulysses, Bear, DEVONthink and Keep It
- #hashtags in annotation comments are now recognized as inline tags and display as such in your notes
- Exporting to DEVONthink as a folder of snippets (Split files) applies the #hashtags as file tags to the corresponding annotation file
- Bear export now supports ::highlight::, ~underline~ and ~~strikethrough~~ text markup
- DEVONthink export now supports ==highlight== and ~~strikethrough~~ text markup
- Keep It export now supports {==highlight==} and {~~strikethrough~~} text markup
- Quiver export now uses Markdown syntax for ~~strikethrough~~

Minor improvements:
- Improved DOI-link recognition (incl. PNAS, The Lancet)
- The text wrapping setting now also applies for Markdown export with markup (bold, underlined, strikethrough..)
- Bear export now includes an empty line after annotation spacers
- Quiver export now uses "---" for annotation spacers
- Removed duplicate whitespace between citation and Markdown links in citations

Ratings and Reviews

4.6 out of 5
527 Ratings

527 Ratings

Insomniaczxzv ,

Just downloaded this app

I use this for online school but I do have to save the web pages (lessons) as PDFs in order to use this app, which is not a big deal bc iOS makes it so simple. After using it for a couple of hours, I can already say, the free version is soooo good, I’m bout ready to buy the pro version. Well done. PLEASE keep up the good work. All I would change is that when you want to add a comment, it should just show the input box instead of having to click “add comment” and THEN the input box shows up. Also more color options for highlighting.

I was using Weava before this, and between that app and this one, this one takes the cake. Awesome. I just wish they would add more color options like Weava. I’m bouncing between both apps because I love that I can choose whatever color I want on Weava.

DrJJWMac ,

Lacks essential export feature and has annoyances

I had high hopes for this app to annotate PDFs collected as a background bibliography for review to prepare a science/engineering publication. But not in its current version.

* Markdown export does not include the images. This eliminates my intent to use sophisticated, markdown-aware tools (e.g. Obsidian) to manage the exported annotation content. The lack of this ability alone leaves me with no greater power than my current go-to PDF editor app across macOS and iPadOS.

* There is no way to clear the (exhaustive) list of recent files on the iPadOS app.

* As another review noted, you will end in the File Editor and can inadvertently delete a folder or file from some other app (this may be a problem for other iPadOS apps due solely to the poor control in the Files app itself and if so should raise a red flag that apps should only be able to READ in the File directory, not muck about in it fully).

* After you highlight a text region, you will not easily be able to adjust it. Essentially, the best if not only viable way to short or lengthen the highlight is to delete it and remake it.

On the plus side, Highlights appears to work well dynamically with other PDF-editing apps (e.g. Devonthink, Bookends), both on macOS and iPadOS.

Finally, I hope that a future update will allow a user to put tags on annotations (as possible in apps such as MarginNote or ZenReader).

Asi Es Cierto ,

Really good app

UPDATE: I just learned some thing that makes this app even better. You can save PDFs in the cloud and then open them on the Mac and iPhone/iPad and highlight them. The highlights are saved across the platforms. This is one fantastic app.

The app is fantastic.

It is beautifully done and works really well. I am able to effortlessly do my research and this app speeds me along the way.

One thing I wish it would do better is reflow the text to look better on the iPhone screen.

Another point... If you need service. It may be a very long time before you get some. The developer will write and say that they are a one person operation. And while I respect their right to operate any way they want, the fee for the app is high enough that you would think that you would actually get faster response. When the developer responds, he is very polite and professional. And it makes me really happy I bought the app .

I still rate it five stars because the bottom line is that’s what the app deserves. I get really tired of people taking stars away for various reasons that have nothing to do with how the app operates.


Highlights Pro
Convert PDF Annotations into Notes and Export
Free Trial

App Privacy

The developer, Jonas Myren Ribe, indicated that the app’s privacy practices may include handling of data as described below. For more information, see the developer’s privacy policy.

Data Not Collected

The developer does not collect any data from this app.

Privacy practices may vary, for example, based on the features you use or your age. Learn More


  • Family Sharing

    Some in‑app purchases, including subscriptions, may be shareable with your family group when Family Sharing is enabled.

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