It seems that on iPad, iBooks, Kindle, or Kobo won't show any user highlightings?

For example, just go to https://developer.apple.com/library/mac/#documentation/Cocoa/Conceptual/ObjectiveC/Introduction/introObjectiveC.html and you will see at the top right corner to download the PDF file. Right click and save it into your Mac or PC, and use Acrobat 10 or Mac's Preview to highlight the word "Objective-C" on the frontpage of the file. We can close and re-open the file to see the highlighting.

Now use DropBox or Box.net and transfer the file to iPad's iBooks (I am using the New iPad (3rd Gen)). (Done by downloading the file and "Open With" iBooks). The highlighting won't show up at all.

This is a simple test... the other document which I highlighted for many pages also won't show any highlighting either.

Is there a way to make the highlighting show

  1. in iBooks
  2. in other apps?

I tried also the Kindle app and Kobo app on iPad and they won't show the highlighting either.

5 Answers 5


iBooks for iPad currently doesn't support highlighting in PDFs. However, there are many 3rd party apps like iAnnotate PDF, GoodReader, or PDFpen that support PDF highlighting and annotating. I use GoodReader and I can personally verify that PDF highlights that were made on Mac's Preview do show up on the GoodReader iPad app.

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I also tested the DropBox iPad app and PDF highlights do not show up.

Hopefully, Apple will add PDF highlighting to a future version of iBooks. If enough people request this feature at the Apple feedback site, maybe they will add it in the near future.

  • All those 3 apps require paying for it... from $5 to $10. iAnnotate has a free version but require some kind of 3rd party licenses... would there be a free version that can show the highlightings? Apr 12, 2012 at 18:20
  • PDF Reader Lite, GoodNotes Free, and pdf-notes free support highlights. Just do a search on the iPad App store and then filter by price at the top of the page.
    – Bryan Luby
    Apr 12, 2012 at 19:34
  • Interesting... I just saw Acrobat Reader by Adobe as well. It can even highlight the PDF text right on iPad. Would that be also recommended as well? Apr 12, 2012 at 21:12
  • I've only used GoodReader, but according to their description, Acrobat Reader also supports highlighting.
    – Bryan Luby
    Apr 12, 2012 at 21:21

PDF reader gives highlighting but (1)in iBooks we can get the meaning for the hard words.
(2)pages are separate and gives a pleasant experience. I request the apple to provide highlight in iBooks.

  • 1
    Is this an answer to the OP's question or a comment? Jan 15, 2013 at 2:02

if you download your reading material as an ebook you and open it in books instead of pdf, you can highlight and underline in ibooks. you can also define words and make notes

  • I'm sorry someone down voted your answer. It is correct. There is no method for highlighting PDF's in iBooks on the iPad. This answers part of the question, but does not address the second component 2. In other apps?. Feb 9, 2014 at 10:42

It's been 10 years and still there's no option to see PDF highlights in Books app on iOS... My advice is to airdrop your highlighted book back to macOS and open it in Preview app, where highlights list is visible.


If you can download the file as an .epub then it shows you your highlighting.

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