Highlights: PDF Reader & Notes 4+

Edit Research Documents/Books

Jonas Myren Ribe

    • 4.6 • 1.2K 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.

• Open PDFs in Single Page or Two Page scroll mode
• Double-tap with two fingers to Smart Zoom in on a paragraph or figure
• Display PDFs in regular, sepia or night appearance

• Annotate with fewer clicks using context aware popovers
• Highlight, underline, strikethrough text and make image selections
• Add comments to annotations or as individual sticky notes
• 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
• Customize the formatting and contents of your notes
• Sort the annotations chronologically or create 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 click

Copy annotations to the desired format with one click:
• Text markup as text
• Image selections as images
• Tables as CSV
• Citations as BibTex

• Highlights will fetch DOI-links and metadata
• Markup any reference and click the link icon to look it up
• If you have read the work already or have it in your reference manager library, Highlights will link you to it

• Save or share your notes as portable files: Markdown, TextBundle, HTML, WebArchive or PDF
• Share them to your favorite notes app: Apple Notes, Bear, Craft, Evernote, DEVONThink, Keep It, MindNode, Notion, Obsidian, Roam Research or Ulysses
• Or send them to a colleague via mail. It's your notes, you decide where they go
• Customize the contents of your notes using templates

• 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 on your iPhone, iPad and Mac:
• Export options for other apps and easily editable formats
• Extract information using table and text recognition
• Customize accent colors and alternative app icons
• Power annotation tools
• Citation lookups
• Smart Copy

Highlights Pro includes a 14-day free trial. 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 2023.2.10

Speed + Sonoma! Highlights runs smoothly on macOS 14 Sonoma already, but this update brings some major performance improvements:
- Up to 5x faster conversion of image selections to images
- Up to 7x faster text recognition
- Up to 5x faster table recognition
- Up to 5x faster loading of PDF pages
- Faster opening of files

Minor improvements:
- Smoother resizing of image selections
- Existing image selections will no longer keep the previous aspect ratio when resized
- Image selections from rotated pages now grab the expected area
- Fixed an issue with Pro features potentially not being recognized on first parse
- Fixed an issue that could prevent images from appearing in notes
- Fixed an issue that could cause inactive page links
- Improved thread safety
- Fixed a memory leak
- Fixed a potential crash on launch
- Fixed a crash related to tracking of user setting updates
- Remove null characters if present in the text of markup annotations
- Improved Smart Copy when getting text of markup annotations
- Improved handling of highlights:// links

Ratings and Reviews

4.6 out of 5
1.2K Ratings

1.2K 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.

Dsqrtx ,

I want to like this but I don’t

I really like the highlighting capabilities, when they work that is. Plain highlighting usually works ok, but little details have bugs. Like, say I have a highlight that spans multiple pages. Half the time, that doesn’t work, and some strange area vaguely related to what I selected ends up being highlighted. So I have to delete the highlight and try again. Usually I end up making two separate highlights. Or, say I select some text and I end up missing a word or two, so I want to expand the selection. Good luck getting that to work. It’s easier to delete the selection and try again. And again. But I could deal with little nits lick that if only the app could remember what location I’ve read up to in the document. I don’t know how many times I’ve read 10 or 20 pages of a document, then come back the next day, and the app places me on page one again, and I have to figure out where I left off. Then I read another 10 or 20 pages, come back the next day, and the app puts me on page one again. So, I wrote to the developer to ask for help with that. No response. Nothing. I like the idea, but this app doesn’t feel complete. I see the other reviews and I wonder how they aren’t seeing the same problems I am.

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).


Highlights Pro
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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