I’d like to tell you about my killer, must have, can’t manage without app for the iPad which is iAnnotate PDF from Branchfire.

Much of my working time is spent dealing with Post Graduate Certificate of Education students on behalf of Manchester Metropolitan University and attending meetings at the University, involving quite a bit of research and document reading so I need something that is easy to use, quick and versatile.

Start up iAnnotate and an uncluttered tabbed interface enables you to work on multiple PDFs at once with a fully customisable tools menu available to the right of your document. Once a PDF is opened it gets its own tab under the header bar. Multiple PDFs can be open and accessible at the same time via these tabs. Scrolling through a large file is smooth and quick. Users can also search a document for specific words or phrases.


By default, the toolbars are active to the right of the screen. Available annotation tools include highlighting, bookmarking, notation, underlining, freeform pen mark-up, and more. These toolbars can be arranged to include any of the available tools by tapping on the spanner icon in the upper right and then the toolbar’s settings cog icon. This activates a master tool menu and allows tools to be dragged to and from the toolbar. Navigation tools include “go to page number”, “next page”, “last page”, “first page”, bookmarks, and a list of annotations.

The highlight and underline tools both work remarkably well. Simply tap the tool and drag your finger across the desired text. Consecutive lines can be highlighted at once without lifting a finger. Separate lines can be marked-up by scrolling through the file before leaving the tool.

After the intended mark-up is complete, users have the ability to change the colour. This can also be accomplished beforehand with the “Highlight or Underline of a specific colour” tool.

Adding annotations is a breeze. Tap the Add Note Annotation tool and then tap the desired location on the PDF. This brings up a text box and the keyboard to begin editing. Once complete, the note can be minimized and expanded later. There is also an option to add a short dictated note to the annotation. These annotations will also display for quick reference in the file’s master Annotation List.

After the annotations are completed to the user’s liking, the PDF can be shared with others. Tapping on the document’s tab brings up a nice dropdown menu offering the ability to email, copy, or open the document in other capable iPad apps on the device.


Dropbox integration is also well utilised, while syncing of large libraries via the free desktop companion app is a quick and simple solution. With a few files imported, you can keyword-search your catalogue and keep it organised using new, read, unread and annotated tabs.

Collating your notes is simplified by the facility to separately export marked-up text and annotations via email, while VGA dock connector support means you can even display your PDFs on an external projector and annotate in front of an audience.

However, if the content is sensitive, app-wide password-protection is also at your disposal. The developers at Branchfire have responded to user feedback generated from the first release and have made mobile integrated PDF editing a joy to undertake.

The latest version also supports Word and PowerPoint annotation.

Priced favourably at $9.99 or I think £6.99 from the app store this is one of the best value for money apps that I have ever bought and now find it indispensable. There is nothing I have asked of it that I have not been able to achieve and from a full version Acrobat user that is saying a lot. I cannot give a definitive list of features of iAnnotate as I keep finding new things it can do like adding signatures and there is a great training section available on the Branchfire website which is available from the app help section.

I would recommend this app to anyone but it is a vital tool in the armoury of anyone who has to deal with lots of PDFs which would benefit from annotation or bookmarking.