In short: I am looking for a program that can extract all the highlighted text from a PDF. If possible, free, works with Windows 7 SP1 x64 Ultimate and Acrobat XI Pro, and can process several PDF files at once.

My use case:

I highlighted some text in a PDF:

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I'm aware that we can that there is the option "Copy selected text into Highlight, Strike-Out, and Underline comment pop-ups." but I would prefer to keep highlighted text apart from comments.

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I am aware of Extract Highlights and Markups from Documents (PDF preferred, Word or suggestions) but the Summarizing Notes feature doesn't work, maybe because the feature has been modified since then (the article was published in early 2006) or because they assume that the "Copy selected text into Highlight, Strike-Out, and Underline comment pop-ups." option is checked.

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8 Answers 8


There is a solution on sourceforge.

Pdf Highlight Exractor, its very fast and easy.

Pdf Highlight Export *Java

  • Worked for me. I found only this free tool that worked. Only small issue is that the whole line is extracted ignoring the word from which highlight was started.
    – Rahul
    Aug 22, 2015 at 16:35

I first tried the application that was hosted in sourceforge. It is great, but I found one issue that the other than the highlighted text, it has some text appearing extra (leading and trailing parts of highlighted text).

I have written a small app for this and hosted at https://pdfcommentextractor.wordpress.com/.

I have added the following features in it:

  1. Provision to copy old highlight texts to comment pop ups retroactively (that is you had not made the setting explained above before making the comment.).
  2. Provision to copy highlight texts to comment pop ups for highlights made from a tablet.
  3. Provision to specify delimiters in the comment generator.
  4. Single file processing and bulk processing.
  5. MY FAVORITE: Provision to split different colour highlights to different files.

If anybody is still looking for this requirement, you may try it....

Caveat: It is not free... It is the result of 1 months hard work learning Java and PDFBox. So please don't visit the site thinking it is a free app.

But if anyone wants to take the same path and develop from scratch, I can help with pointers, if you email me (Alex) at [email protected]

P.S. I have been a regular visitor of coding sites including stackexchange and stackoverflow till now but this is my first post here :)


Take a look at Mendeley there is a feature to export just your notes & highlights - there are also a lot of tools for organising & sharing your notes and pdfs.

Export Options


zotfile for zotero is the main answer actually it even puts the address of the citation after each highlight. Example:

Thanks for contributing an answer to Software Recommendations Stack Exchange!.(Braun, 2003)

and its free. zotfile was the main reason why i left mendeley because its notes are f*n unextractable unless you print the pdf it gives but cannot copy to word or anything.


I have used all the tools above, however, found Sumnotes to be the easiest one to use. After you highlight your PDF document in whichever viewer that you decide to use, you can save that document and just drag & drop it on Sumnotes. The key is it's on cloud and you don't need to download anything. The extractions are shown to you within seconds and you have an option of exporting it to txt, Word, Evernote or even just email it to yourself after you sign up (for free!).


You could use Retroactively Copy Highlighted Text into Comments:

  • non gratis
  • batch version available

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Here is a free and easy to use solution -- an Acrobat Add-on written in JavaScript. (Disclaimer: I am the developer of the Acrobat Add-on: nmcHighlighter for Acrobat).

I hope someone will find it useful (it does a LOT MORE than copying highlighted text ...)

To "extract" without copying to the comment boxes: extract highlighted data, then close-without-saving the PDF file.

The Add-on can be downloaded at: http://www.nmcomputing.com/nmcHighlighterForAcrobat/download/

It works as an Add-on for both Acrobat Reader and Pro, as such it can process the current open PDF. It is possible to write a wrapper and make it a standalone software to "process several PDF files at once" -- but it is not capable of doing that for now.

Another strong feature: if you have previously highlighted text using Acrobat Pro and you forgot to check the preference: ‘Copy highlight,underline and strikeout tool to comment pop up setting is enabled’, nmcHighlighter will still work and be able to extract the highlighted text.

  • Thanks for disclosing your affiliation! Would you mind to also disclose where the addon can be found? I doubt a video will do the job (and YT might be blocked in some places). Further, how does it meet the requirement "can process several PDF files at once"?
    – Izzy
    Dec 11, 2020 at 2:13

ReMarkable Web (MIT license) can export highlights:

Demo: https://redd.it/wri0kb

Note: Exporting highlights didn't work on the PDF I tried.

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