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How to Highlight Text in Sumatra PDF Reader

Sumatra PDF is free, open-source software

Sumatra PDF is free, open-source software

If you regularly read long PDF documents, you will want the PDF reader you use to remember where you left off. Adobe PDF reader does offer this feature. Go to Edit > Preferences, then to Documents under Categories. When you check “Restore last view settings when reopening documents” Adobe Reader is supposed to remember your last location rather than opening on page one. However, this hasn't worked for me. Even after checking “Restore last view settings when reopening documents,” my documents still open on the first page.

Pros and Cons of Sumatra PDF

Considering that I often read two to three hundred page documents, having Adobe Reader take me back to the beginning of a document each time I open it is very frustrating. When I went looking for solutions, I learned about Sumatra PDF. This is a simple to use and minimalist PDF reader. To ensure it remembers where you left off, go to Settings > Options and check “Remember opened files.”

Everything was going wonderfully with Sumatra PDF until I needed to highlight something. I right-clicked and couldn't find any highlighting tool. Then I searched every menu and came up empty. For many people, a PDF reader that can't highlight text isn't very useful. Thankfully, there is a way to get a highlighter tool in Sumatra PDF.

How to Highlight a Document in Sumatra PDF

When you go to to download Sumatra PDF, the version you get won't have a highlighting feature. Instead, you need the prerelease build, available at This prerelease version does have a highlighter. Be aware that this is a test version, although since I've been using it, it has worked just as well as the current version.

To highlight a sentence, select it with your mouse, then either right-click and choose Create Annotation then Highlight or simply click the 'A' key on your keyboard. Clicking 'A' highlights text in yellow. You can change the color in the Annotation window that opens up. Although, each time you click 'A' the text will be yellow. I haven't found a way to set a different color when I click the 'A' key. If you want to remove highlighting, you have to delete it from the annotation window.

Another thing I haven't been able to do is highlight text on two separate pages. If I try to highlight a paragraph that starts on the bottom of one page and ends on the top of the next, neither clicking the 'A' key nor right-clicking and choosing Highlight under Create Annotations works. I have to highlight both separately. Hopefully, this will be fixed before this test version goes into general availability. This solution to highlighting in Sumatra PDF isn't ideal, but it's better than nothing.

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To save the highlights, you have to save the document. You can save to a new document to avoid making changes to the original.

To highlight in Sumatra PDF, either right-click and choose Create Annotation, then Highlight, or click the A key on your keyboard

To highlight in Sumatra PDF, either right-click and choose Create Annotation, then Highlight, or click the A key on your keyboard

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 LT Wright

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