My workflow is as follows:

  • Open PDF on Mac using Preview
  • Annotate PDF using the annotate tools within Preview
  • Send PDF to iPad

I would like the annotations to show up on the iPad in the native PDF viewer, but for some reason they do not! Does anyone know the reason why, and (better yet) a solution?

Note: When I use PDFPen to do the annotations, they do show up on the iPad, which has been my workaround so far. For reasons too lengthy to discuss, I cannot do the annotations directly on the iPad.

2 Answers 2


This seems to be an interesting problem. I started annotating PDFs on my iPad using GoodReader. Such annotations always show up fine in another PDF readers on other platforms. Then, more recently I wanted to do a similar things on my MacBookPro. At the time, I didn't realize Preview provides this feature. The App Store provides an abundance of choices for PDF annotation programs. I chose PDFProfessional since it only costed a few bucks. I soon noticed it had a problem similar to the one you described. I could see lines and scribble, but not text notes in other viewers unless I clicked and expanded the text box. Otherwise the text box seemed empty.

Last month PDFProessional released an update and this fixed that problem.

It may be be that providing annotations that show up universally is harder than it seems and Preview just hasn't reached that level yet.

  • Thanks for your input. Actually, it seems like the annotations from Preview do show up on all other PDF viewers I have tested them on, the only exception is the iPad.
    – mboratko
    Commented Aug 25, 2012 at 13:22

Annotations created in preview on the Mac will show up in GoodReader for iPad and vice versa. This has always worked for me.

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