As part of my studying/learning, I have a lot of PDF documents that I'm reading. There's an "Almost Awesome" thing I've found discovered about PDFs. Using these instructions you can use Adobe Acrobat (not Reader) to highlight your PDF documents as you read them; then you can extract just the things you've highlighted into a new document. (Some other PDF tools seem to offer this ability too.)

While this is very, very cool, this was eight years ago - and I'm hoping there's something better now.

I'd like to not only be able to highlight the text in my PDFs, but also "highlight" or draw a box/outline/circle/whatever around images that I want to extract with my "summary".

I need the summary to also provide these images at a reasonable size - I must have selected them because they added value to my notes - a tiny thumbnail won't really help me study them later.

Bonus points if the tool allows me to scribble notes right onto the document and get those extracted (along with the background that I'm scribbling over). As an example, sometimes there's a photo of something and I want to draw attention to a specific something in the image as part of my notes - I'd need the photo, with my handwritten note too.

Lastly, I'm open to other solutions. I'm willing to convert my PDFs to Word format or another file type, if that makes sense.

If OneNote would automatically generate the "Summary" like Acrobat does, above, that'd be incredible... but I haven't found any plug-in that would do such a thing.

Any ideas?




These have worked for me on Windows:

  1. Sumnotes: Free version gives you 50 Pages, 50 Highlights, Up to 50 MB file size, Up to 5 images. $7-15 for full. Pretty good deal I would say.
  2. PDF X-Change Viewer: You have to set the highlighting capture feature before you highlight. To this you would:

    • Menu > Edit > Preferences > Commenting > check the box for “copy selected text to Highlight, Cross-Out...”
    • To export: Comments > Summarize Comments (you get three options: PDF, Txt, RTF)
  3. Mendeley: This is PDF library manager for academics. One of its features is extracting annotations, like highlights. More complicated.

There are good suggestions for Macs and iPhones and iPads as well on here: http://computers.tutsplus.com/tutorials/beyond-highlighting-how-to-get-the-most-from-your-annotations--cms-20013


If you are not that insistent on the image part, you can use pdf comment extractor from https://pdfcommentextractor.wordpress.com/.

Caveat: Someone I know had written this tool for his personal use and is not free and costs 15USD


The image part requires some heavy lifting so I don't think anybody wrote software to do that -- it is certainly not impossible.

For the rest of the requirements, I think this answer (by me) offers the exact (and free) solution:


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.