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Can't Highlight Text in PDF? Here is the Real Fix!

February 21, 2024 302 views

PDFs are a simple format that operates on a simple model with a straightforward concept. In simple terms, the formatting resembles that of an image, with text overlaid. While this format enhances readability and facilitates easy sharing, editing can be a bit tricky. In this article, we will explore how to effectively edit PDFs and why you can’t highlight text in PDF, focusing specifically on how to highlight text within PDF documents.

How to fix Highlight Text in PDF problem

How to fix Highlight Text in PDF problem

Why Can't I Highlight Text in PDFs?

Have you ever tried to highlight text in a PDF document and found it challenging? This common issue can be attributed to several factors that affect the text highlighting feature. In this brief guide, we'll explore the reasons behind this challenge.

  • Scanned PDFs:

PDFs that contain scanned images instead of real text cannot be highlighted. Scanned documents essentially treat text as images, preventing any form of text manipulation.

  • Security and Protection Settings:

If you're not the author of a PDF file, the document may have security settings that prohibit highlighting. Authors or distributors might disable editing features to maintain document integrity and control access.

  • Encrypted PDFs:

PDFs with encryption, password protection, or certificates may limit editing capabilities. Mobile devices, in particular, may struggle with encrypted PDFs, making text highlighting difficult.

  • PDF Viewer Limitations:

A common phrase uttered by those struggling with text highlighting: "Why can't I highlight text in PDF?" The answer might lie in the limitations of the chosen PDF viewer. Outdated software versions or incompatible readers may lack the essential features for text highlighting.

  • File Corruption:

Corrupted PDF files, often obtained from untrustworthy sources, can lead to issues with text highlighting. It's advisable to download PDFs from reliable sources to avoid potential corruption.

How to Fix Highlight Text Not Working in PDFs?

For those grappling with the frustration of being unable to highlight text in PDFs, consider these solutions.

  • Utilize OCR Technology:

If you're unable to highlight text in PDFs due to scanned documents, employ Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. WPS PDF Mobile offers top-notch OCR capabilities, converting scanned PDFs into editable text effortlessly. If uncertainty persists about whether a PDF is an image file, PDF24 provides a convenient OCR tool for verification.

  • Contact the Document Author:

Reach out to the author of the PDF file and request enabling commenting on the document. Alternatively, ask for a new copy of the document with editing capabilities enabled.

  • Switch to a Desktop Device:

If text highlighting is not working on your current device, try opening the PDF on a desktop device like a computer. Desktop devices often provide a more comprehensive set of editing features.

  • Get a Reliable PDF Editor:

Sometimes, the PDF reader currently in use is either outdated or not optimal for handling complex tasks. In such situations, it's best to download PDF editors that are not only compatible but also provide the features you need.

A highly recommended option is to use WPS Office, offering advanced features, availability across all major platforms, and the recent integration of WPS AI. WPS PDF, part of the WPS Office suite, stands out as one of the most comprehensive PDF editors available for free, ensuring a seamless and feature-rich experience.

Use Professional PDF Editors to Highlight Text

These are some of the top choices when it comes to excellent PDF editors. Here's a brief overview of each to give you an idea of their capabilities.

1. WPS PDF Tools

WPS PDF stands out as a versatile PDF tool, offering a comprehensive set of features tailored to meet various office needs. With its user-friendly interface and robust functionality, it simplifies tasks such as viewing, editing, annotating, and converting PDF files. WPS PDF's affordability, coupled with a free version and options to upgrade to premium or professional versions, underscores its value as a valuable tool for enhancing productivity and creativity.

WPS PDF Tools

WPS PDF Tools

Pros:

  • Versatile PDF editing functionalities.

  • Security features for document protection.

  • User-friendly interface for ease of use.

  • Compatibility with popular office suites.

  • AI integration for enhanced productivity.

Cons:

  • Limited advanced features.

  • May not support extremely complex documents.

2. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Adobe Acrobat is a robust family of application software designed by Adobe Inc. for viewing, creating, and managing PDF files, comprising Acrobat Reader, Acrobat, and Acrobat.com. Acrobat Reader, available for desktop and mobile platforms, supports viewing, printing, scaling, and annotating PDF files.

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Pros:

  • Comprehensive features for PDF management.

  • Industry-standard security practices.

  • Integration with Microsoft 365 applications.

  • Cross-platform compatibility.

Cons:

  • Costly subscription-based service.

  • Learning curve for new users.

  • Limited functionality in the free version.

3. Foxit PDF Editor 13

Foxit PDF Editor is a comprehensive PDF tool designed for creating, managing, converting, OCR, eSigning, and editing PDF documents. It serves as a cost-effective alternative to Adobe Acrobat, offering a user-friendly Ribbon-style toolbar reminiscent of Microsoft Office for an intuitive user experience.

 Foxit PDF Editor 13

Foxit PDF Editor 13

Pros:

  • Full-featured platform for PDF editing.

  • Cost-effective alternative to Adobe Acrobat.

  • User-friendly Ribbon-style toolbar.

  • Seamless integration into systems.

Cons:

  • Learning curve for mastering all features.

  • Limited functionality in the free version.

PDF Editing Tool

Pros

Cons

WPS PDF Tools

  • Versatile editing functionalities.

  • Security features for document protection.

  • User-friendly interface.

  • Compatibility with popular office suites.

  • AI integration for enhanced productivity.

  • Limited advanced features.

  • May not support extremely complex documents.

Adobe Acrobat Pro

  • Comprehensive features for PDF management.

  • Integration with Microsoft 365 applications.

  • Cross-platform compatibility.

  • Costly subscription-based service.

  • Learning curve for new users.

  • Limited functionality in the free version.

Foxit PDF Editor

  • Full-featured platform for PDF editing.

  • Cost-effective alternative to Adobe Acrobat.

  • User-friendly Ribbon-style toolbar.

  • Seamless integration into systems.

  • Difficulty in fully grasping all features.

  • Restricted capabilities in the free version.

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC VS. Foxit PDF Editor 13 VS. WPS PDF Tools

Why WPS PDF Tools Is the Best PDF Editor?

With WPS Office, users can not only view PDFs but also edit, create, merge, annotate, and convert them effortlessly. The PDF tool boasts over 10,000 templates, providing users with a wealth of options for creating and formatting PDF documents to suit their specific needs. Furthermore, WPS Office offers robust security features, including password protection and encryption, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive documents.

WPS Office PDF tools

WPS Office PDF tools

WPS Office's online PDF editor enables users to make changes to text and images, crop pages, adjust header and footer settings, and add special notes to files. This functionality proves invaluable for students, teachers, professionals, and businesses alike, streamlining document workflows and facilitating collaboration.

How to Highlight Text in WPS PDF Tools?

WPS PDF offers three different methods for highlighting, ensuring that all your PDF highlighting needs are met!

Method 1: Using the Highlight Area

The first method involves using the Highlight Area tool. Instead of highlighting single text, this tool allows users to highlight an entire area in a rectangle, especially useful when highlighting figures, tables, or shapes.

Step 1: To access the Highlight Area tool, go to the Comment tab in WPS Office.

WPS PDF Highlight Area tool

WPS PDF Highlight Area tool

Step 2: Simply click on the Highlight Area button and draw a rectangle to highlight the desired area.

 WPS PDF draw a rectangle to Highlight Area

WPS PDF draw a rectangle to Highlight Area

Step 3: If you want to change the color, click on the arrow beneath the Highlight Area button to expand color options.

WPS PDF change Highlight Area color

WPS PDF change Highlight Area color

Method 2: Using the Highlight

If you're looking to simply highlight text while taking notes from a PDF, the WPS Highlight PDF tool is your go-to option.

Step 1: Find and click the Highlight button in the Comment tab of WPS Office PDF.

Step 2: Simply select the text you wish to highlight in your PDF.

 WPS PDF Highlight

WPS PDF Highlight

Step 3: If you want to change the highlighter color, click on the small arrow under the Highlight button to view more color options.

WPS PDF change Highlight color

WPS PDF change Highlight color

Method 3: Using the Drawing Tools

The last method on the list involves WPS Office PDF drawing tools, allowing users to freehand highlight their PDF while working.

Step 1: The drawing tool is also available in the Comment tab. Click on the Drawing Tool button in the comment ribbon.

 WPS PDF Drawing Tool

WPS PDF Drawing Tool

Step 2: The Doodle tab will open, where users can increase the line width, reduce opacity to give their pen a highlighting effect.

WPS PDF Pen settings

WPS PDF Pen settings

Step 3: Decide whether you want to draw freehand or highlight in a straight line.

 WPS PDF Drawing Tool Pen type

WPS PDF Drawing Tool Pen type

Step 4: If the color is not clear, click on the “Line Color” option to change the pen color.

WPS PDF Drawing Tool Line Color

WPS PDF Drawing Tool Line Color

The PDF tool offers a seamless way to view, edit, annotate, and collaborate on PDF documents. I particularly appreciated the ease with which I could highlight important sections, add comments, and even merge multiple PDF files effortlessly. The tool's intuitive design and comprehensive feature set made working with PDFs easy, saving me time and enhancing my productivity.

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WPS Office- Free All-in-One Office Suite
  • Use Word, Excel, and PPT for FREE, No Ads.

  • Edit PDF files with the powerful PDF toolkit.

  • Microsoft-like interface. Easy to learn. 100% Compatibility.

  • Boost your productivity with WPS's abundant free Word, Excel, PPT, and CV templates.

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FAQs

Q1. What is the difference between PDF document and PDF form?

PDF documents encompass various file formats, and one such type is the PDF form. A PDF form, a specific type of PDF document, contains editable form fields for user input. Typically, some parts of the document remain fixed and unchangeable in a PDF form, like survey questions or form instructions. However, in a PDF form, the content fields open for user input are editable, providing options for predefined answers or allowing users to write freely.

Q2. Can I remove the highlight in WPS PDF Tools?

Learn two easy ways to take away highlights in WPS PDF Tools. Just follow these steps for each method to make your PDFs look better:

Method 1: Use "Undo" to remove highlights.

Step 1: Find "Undo" in the toolbar or menu.

Step 2: Select the "Undo" option to reverse the highlighting action. Please note that the undo function will only eliminate the highlight if it was the most recent action.

WPS Office Undo last action

WPS Office Undo last action

Note: Users can also use the Undo shortcut key “CTRL + Z” to undo their last action.

Method 2: Delete a highlight comment.

Step 1: Place your cursor over the highlighted text.

Step 2: Click on the highlighted part and choose "Delete Comment".

 WPS Office Delete comment

WPS Office Delete comment

Q3. Why can't I highlight text on my mobile device?

If you're facing difficulties in highlighting text, it could be because your current PDF reader lacks the essential features. Consider using a reliable app like WPS Office for mobile, which provides excellent functionality. With WPS Office, you get features like smooth text highlighting, easy annotation, and a user-friendly interface.

Q4. What are common reasons for the highlight text feature not working in PDFs?

If you're having trouble highlighting text in your PDF, a few common issues might be causing it. Begin by ensuring your PDF reader is up-to-date, as using an outdated version can lead to functionality problems. Additionally, check for any file restrictions, such as read-only status, as this can hinder highlighting capabilities. Verify your settings for any possible misconfigurations, as even insignificant adjustments can influence highlighting. Lastly, consider the condition of the document itself. Corruption or issues within the file may restrict your ability to highlight text.

Annotate With WPS PDF

While editing PDFs is feasible in many cases, numerous PDF tools on the market come with a price tag that can't highlight text in PDF. However, before considering spending your hard-earned money, consider a more cost-effective option: WPS Office. Not only does WPS Office allow you to edit PDFs for free, but it also offers a plethora of additional features beyond just highlighting. Download WPS Office today and explore its full range of PDF capabilities to see how it can streamline your document management process.


15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.