I am starting to hate OS X. I've tried many PDF applications to read and annotate PDF documents. Skim was good until OS X El Captain. It became useless for annotation (by annotation, I mean drawing lines in the document. I use this way in PDF documents where words are not recognised). Preview has just stopped working 10 minutes ago and I lose a lot of annotations. Is there any sophisticated app that works well on my mac?

  • Downvote for supplying more rant than actual question. Why not start over with what it is you require & why the solutions you have already tried fail to provide that. …'doesn't suck', 'became useless' & 'stopped working' don't tell us anything at all.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 7:30
  • I don't see a problem in my question. "stopped working" = crash = freeze + I said that I lost my annotations after that. "Became useless" = Skim (now) on EL Captain doesn't annotate so it's useless for annotation. I don't want to spend 30 minutes writing the question when I can write it (properly) in 5 minutes. And sorry for "doesn't suck" if it bothered you.
    – ammar
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 12:10
  • If you don't see how your question is just an invitation for a long list of potential annotation applications, with no particular feature or functionality except for 'doesn't suck', then I wish you luck.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 12:18
  • 1
    Just remove the emotionally charged language. We don't care if you 'hate OS X' - keep that to yourself. In academic discourse, just stick to the facts. To get back to the meat of the issue, in what way did Preview stop working? How were you using to annotate? Skim was last updated in 2009, so I'm not surprised it isn't working. What other apps have you tried?
    – IconDaemon
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 12:40
  • I'm going to put a hold on this for some opbective definitions of "not sucking" be added. See meta.apple.stackexchange.com/questions/2180/… for how to explain what specifically you are looking for on a software recommendation. Being critical is welcomed, just be specific about it :-) What does "annotation mean to you" and how did skim meet that need?
    – bmike
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 14:15

5 Answers 5


Maybe you could try PDFPen. It's a bit expensive thought. A trial is available https://smilesoftware.com/PDFpen/index.html

For me Foxit Reader does the job.

  • The notion of a 75$ software being expensive is relative of course, but generally speaking, an application like PDFPen is very cheap for what it does. Not affiliated, etc.
    – magma
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 23:33

Why not the obvious? Acrobat Reader DC?


Well I know just what you mean by "doesn't suck". As an instructor, I am constantly editing PDF submissions using a tablet. Thus the ability to 'write' easily on a PDF is imperative. Preview just does not provide this capability. It has a 'scribble' mode, but then attempts to guess what you are drawing and changes it to match something it recognizes; but not what you want. I really, really wanted to like PDFPEN. I've used it for about 3 years because I just can't find anything else. But it is very frustrating. Versions I used did not auto-save. And I've had enough crashes with it that I've said many nasty words.. In the middle of writing, it loses its tracking with the tablet and draws strange lines. Writing too close to the edge causes issues. You are constantly changing the color back to what you want, if you annotate both with 'scribbles' and with text. The way it handles colors is maddening. I have Sierra and tried the latest V8.2.1 and it crashed so much I couldn't actually use it.

I tried SKIM and it worked really well up to Sierra. Apparently Apple changed the PDF API (PDFkit) and it broke Skim so bad I think the developers are mad at Apple.

So I still haven't found a great one. Weird.. You'd think that would not be a hard thing to purchase.



I have found OpenBoard to be a good, free alternative for marking up papers. You can import a pdf, write on it, export it to pdf -- quick. Of course, this software is designed for teachers and is free. It is also less than perfect but has an active user community. It makes my tablet much more useful, but has a bit of an efficiency learning curve. It does hang, but autosaves and so I have never lost too much material.


PDF Expert

This is the one that satisfied what I needed in a PDF application. Unfortunately, it is only available on Apple devices. Check out its features.

  • We're trying to find the best answers and those answers will provide info as to why they're the best. Explain why you think the link you provided will answer the question. Links can change and become outdated so we prefer the answers to not just be a link. See How to Answer on how to provide a quality answer.
    – fsb
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 17:05
  • I have found PDF Expert to be the best choice for my use cases, which primarily involve annotation of many (hundreds) of large PDF documents. For me the interface was much more responsive that Acrobat, more reliable than PDFPen, and unlike Skim, the annotations are visible in other PDF readers and transfer between machines via Dropbox. PDFPen and Acrobat are very good for OCR if that is a requirement.
    – DaveV
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 3:00
  • @fsb I think that the linked page contains enough informations.
    – ammar
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 4:36
  • While the site does have good info, per the site guidelines on how to write a good answer: "Links to external resources are encouraged, but please add context around the link so your fellow users will have some idea what it is and why it’s there. Always quote the most relevant part of an important link, in case the target site is unreachable or goes permanently offline." It's good to add links but the answer shouldn't only say something like "see this site", which is close to what you did.
    – fsb
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 6:28

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