I have to read lots of PDF books on my iPad but I also need to make notes (annotations), notes that I want to be able to transfer to the Mac later.

What solutions do I have for this?

Please do not not provide more than one suggestion per answer. Also include link and pricing information in the first line.

Example: ## [SomeApp](http://...) 4$

  • 1
    Please do not not provide more than one suggestion per answer - really? why? ... and you've provided an example of how to properly format an answer. great :/
    – cwd
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 0:53
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    Because it would ease the reading and allow others to vote one or another answer.
    – sorin
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 9:58
  • you can answer multiple times if you have multiple suggestions
    – Alexander
    Commented Feb 24, 2013 at 5:46

9 Answers 9


GoodReader $4.99

I can't compare it to any other PDF reader for the iPad, but I've been very happy with GoodReader. From the marketing spiel on iTunes:

Annotation is a feature long sought after by users who want to add their own mark-ups to PDFs, especially those collaborating as a team on shared documents. The types of annotations that can be created and edited in GoodReader include typewriter text boxes, popup comments ("sticky notes"), text highlights, freehand drawings, lines, arrows, rectangles, ovals, cloudy shapes, text underlines, strikeouts, text insertion marks.

  • GoodReader's use is a bit wonky, and the interface is very noisy, but feature-wise? Nothing I've seen compares. And at least GoodReader is functional enough. Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 18:46
  • GoodReader, despite its flaws, is the best by far among the alternatives. Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 22:57
  • Does it allow exporting of quotes/annotations? That's the key feature required here.
    – Calion
    Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 0:55

Actually, the latest version of ibooks does offer two ways to export notes:

  1. Via e-mail.
  2. Via PDF provided you print to an app like printopia (Mac) or a virtual printing solution (PC).

If you need the PC solution, please respond and I will research it for you.

Also, Nook in conjunction with Nookstudy (Mac/PC) may have this feature.

The people on the web are recommending iAnnotatePDF, which can export annotations as text. They say the interface is not that great.

Possible untested Nook instructions are below:

To use the Nookstudy options: 1. Download Nookstudy. Import the PDF. 2. Ensure it shows up and can be read on Nook for ipad. 3. Annotate. 4. Go back to Nookstudy. Your changes will be there. Then, export the notes to a .doc file. (supported.) URL: www.nookstudy.com

I would also take a serious look at Readdle's products and Goodreader.

  • iBooks is able to email all notes by email, still it is still missing the bookmark sync or email option.
    – sorin
    Commented Jul 3, 2011 at 8:58
  • What it cannot do is export highlighted text from DRM'ed books.
    – Calion
    Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 0:58

If you want the ability to annotate PDF as well as fill out PDF forms, the best iPad app out there is PDF Expert.

PDF Expert lets you read and annotate PDF documents, highlight text, make notes, draw with your finger and save these changes which are compatible with Preview and Adobe Acrobat! Moreover, PDF Expert is the only iPad application that can fill in PDF forms!

If you want additional opinions specifically dealing with annotating PDF files on an iPad, this macrumours thread has a lot of info.

Hope this helps.

  • How is its exporting capability? I understand that they only support export to HTML.
    – Calion
    Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 0:56

iBooks (free)

I heard that the new iBooks application can add notes to PDFs but there is no option to export them so this makes them almost useless.


I use ezPDF on Android and I see that it exists on iPhone and iPad too, for $2 and $3 respectively. It has proper PDF annotation support. While I've not used the iVersions, I'd expect they are just as awesome as the Android version.


Try the app called Digested - "Quickly import bookmarks and notes from iBooks on iPhone, iPod, iPad export to PDF and Evernote...". Works very well for me - designed especially for iBooks.



is designed for displaying sheet music PDF files, but its annotation features are quite extensive and I think it might be useful to you. Of course it will work with any PDF file, not just sheet music files.


For exporting highlights and notes from iBooks check out A step by step guide is available here.

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    I don't know whether I would want to send my iBook annotations to some anonymous website...
    – nohillside
    Commented Jun 23, 2012 at 8:45

Documents by Readdle (Free)

It's an amazing completely free application that enables you to read and annotate PDF files as well as Microsoft office documents, watch videos, and many more!

Foxit (Free)

It's a feature-rich completely free PDF viewer in PC and iPad, with great annotation/highlighting capabilities. Enjoy it!

  • Documents does not allow export of annotations. You have to upgrade to PDF Expert for that.
    – Calion
    Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 0:54

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