Highlight Text in a PDF Using PDFpen

Highlight text in PDF documents on a Mac using PDFpen.

Love to mark pieces of text with vivid, translucent colors as you read? You’re not alone. Plenty of students and active readers enjoy using highlighter pens to call attention to important passages.

As more and more documents become digitized, many have transferred their highlighting habits over to the digital sphere. Using PDF editing tools such as PDFpen, they have been able to continue marking up documents, with the advantages of not getting their fingers dirty or running out of ink.

The Highlight Text tool

As we wrote in PDFpen for Students: How to Learn Better with our PDF editor for Mac, PDFpen has an assortment of annotation tools that active readers love. The Highlight Text tool is one of them.

Found in the Toolbar, the Highlight Text tool not only allows you to select text and highlight it, but it also allows you to draw free-form highlight marks on parts of the document that don’t contain text.

Let’s look at how to add highlights to a PDF in PDFpen.

How to highlight text

There are two ways to access the Highlight Text tool.

Using the Toolbar:

  1. Click on the Highlight button in the Toolbar.
  2. Choose a highlight color from the Highlight/markup menu.
The Highlight Text menu offers four standard highlight colors.

3. Select the text you want to highlight.

Using keyboard shortcuts:

To highlight content without having to switch to the Highlight Text tool, type ⌘-Option-Shift plus the number that corresponds to the color you want.

You can see the highlighting keyboard shortcuts by choosing Format > Highlight submenu.

To learn more about keyboard shortcuts and how to create your own, see Create Custom Keyboard Shortcuts in PDFpen.Note: The next text selection you make will take on your chosen highlight color. If you want to use a different color, choose one from the Highlight menu. If you’re done highlighting, choose the Select Text tool.

How to remove a highlight

To remove a passage highlighted by mistake, follow these steps:

  1. Using the Select Text tool, select any portion of the highlighted text you want to remove.
  2. From the Highlight menu in the Toolbar, choose Remove.
Remove is one of the options of the Highlight Text Tool menu.

Or use the Select Text tool to select the text you want to remove, then type the keyboard shortcut ⌘-Option-Shift-0.

How to set a custom highlight color

PDFpen has four standard highlight colors: green, pink, lilac and blue. You can add up to three additional custom colors. Here’s how:

1. Choose PDFpen > Preferences > Editing.

2. Click one of the Custom Highlight Colors boxes to open up the Color panel.

You can add custom highlight colors to the Highlight Text menu via Preferences.

3. Select a color in the Color Panel by clicking on a pencil. Changes to a Custom Highlight Color take immediate effect, so experiment with different colors before closing the Preferences window.

Choose from many highlight color options to add to the Highlight Text menu.

Find and highlight

If you need to highlight every mention of a word or phrase, you can do so automatically using the Find and Highlight tool. Here’s how:

  1. Choose Edit > Find > Find and Highlight.
  2. Type the word or phrase you want to search for.
  3. Choose Show Results to see the number of occurrences of the word or phrase and a list of the individual mentions.
  4. Adjust the Highlight Color as needed.
  5. To highlight an individual mention, select it from the list and choose Highlight. To highlight all occurrences, choose Highlight All.
Use the Find and Highlight tool to highlight text in a PDF that occurs frequently.

PDFpen, the ultimate PDF highlighter tool

PDFpen’s Highlight Text tool makes highlighting text in a PDF document a breeze. Mark up important passages in standard green, pink, lilac, and blue – or add a custom highlight color from the color palette. 

Add highlights manually as you read, or automatically highlight all mentions of a word, code or phrase that repeats itself in a lengthy PDF document. 

Highlighting is just one type of annotation you can add to a PDF. Using PDFpen, you can also underline passages and add pop-up notes, comment boxes and even audio annotations.

Best of all, you can choose to include all your annotations when printing out your document.