10 Best Highlighter Apps for Android and iOS in 2023

Highlighting text is an essential studying technique for students and academic researchers. With increasing shift from print to digital text, highlighter apps that let you annotate and highlight text on your mobile devices have become extremely popular.

But with so many highlighter apps in the market, how do you pick the right one for your needs? In this comprehensive guide, we have shortlisted the 10 best highlighter apps for Android and iOS devices based on features, usability and pricing.

What are Highlighter Apps and Why are They Useful?

Highlighter apps allow you to select and visibly distinguish important portions of text on digital interfaces using colored markers. They serve some key purposes:

  • Retain information better: The color coding draws visual attention to key points. This reinforcement helps improve recall.

  • Quickly review important concepts: You can export and collect all highlights in one place for easy review later.

  • Annotate accurately: Digital highlighters are more precise than manual highlighting on paper.

  • Seamlessly switch devices: Web highlighters sync across your connected devices so you pick up highlights where you left.

  • Collaborate with others: You can share highlights or annotated documents for discussions.

Key Features of Highlighter Apps

Here are some notable features that separating the best from the average:

  • Multiple color highlighters: Allows color coding systems to indicate different themes or priority levels

  • Notes and annotations: Add text notes to highlighted portions for context

  • Search and organize: Quickly search through all highlights and notes

  • Cross-platform availability: Use the highlighter as browser extension and mobile app

  • Export options: Save consolidated highlights as PDFs, Word files, etc for sharing

  • OCR mode: Extract highlights from images and tables into selectable text

  • Security: End-to-end encryption for privacy along with local storage options

Pros and Cons of Digital Highlighters


  • Portability on mobile devices
  • Clean highlighting without ink smudges
  • Powerful search, export and sync features
  • Collaborative annotation
  • Cost saving compared to paper prints


  • Small screens constrain amount of visible text
  • Battery draining and eye strain from excessive screen time
  • Steep learning curve for advanced features
  • Subscription charges for premium features

Now let’s look at the top 10 highlighters that provide the best value across platforms.

1. Liner: Best Overall Highlighter App

Liner is our pick for the best highlighter app overall because of its versatile features, intuitive interface and free plan availability.

Platform Availability:

  • Chrome and Firefox browser extensions
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Web app

It allows seamless syncing between mobile and desktop devices. The handy browser extensions make highlighting web articles effortless.

Liner intelligently extracts only the highlighted content—eliminating unnecessary text. You can organize highlights into topics-based folders. A unique ‘Collections‘ feature lets you curate and share highlights publicly.

The easy-to-use interface, sorting and exporting functionality make Liner great for research and review. However, the free plan only allows 3 folders and 2 color options.

2. Adobe Acrobat: Most Popular PDF Highlighter

With over 650 million installs, Adobe Acrobat Reader is the leading PDF highlighter tool globally.

Platform Availability:

  • Windows and Mac
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Web app

It offers a complete document solution allowing you to create, edit, sign, and track PDFs. For highlighting, it provides an accurate text selection tool with multiple color options and comment annotations. You can also strikethrough, underline or erase highlights.

While the premium Acrobat plans are pricey, the free web app packs adequate highlighting capabilities for most use cases. However, unlike Liner, Adobe does not actively sync or consolidate highlights from PDFs into a shareable format.

3. Highlights: Best for Academics

Highlights markets itself as the “PDF reader for study” and indeed lives up to it for academics and researchers.

Platform Availability:

  • iOS
  • iPadOS
  • Mac (beta)

It can intelligently extract tables and graphs into editable formats instead of just embedding images into PDFs. The ‘Card View‘ neatly organizes key data points, citations and notations from research literature into scannable flash cards.

Another useful academic feature is the hierarchical tag structure—allowing drill-down of concepts into multiple sub-levels. Drag and drop supported for easy reorganization. The app also has first-class Apple Pencil integration. However, the absence of Android or Windows support limits its user base.

4. Readwise: Best Highlighter for Books

If you read a lot of ebooks, Readwise is a great option to manage your highlights efficiently.

Platform Availability:

  • Browser extension
  • iOS
  • Android

It connects to e-reading platforms like Kindle and Pocket to automatically import any highlights you make while reading digital books. Readwise then regularly emails you these collected highlights for spaced repetition—helping retain key ideas.

The highlights are neatly organized by source and date. You can also manually add highlights from other articles. Tags allow easy filtering while stats provide insight into your reading pace. Readwise offers good value but refined features like OCR and notes require the $8/month premium upgrade.

5. Highlighted: Best for Quotes and Snippets

Avid readers would love Highlighted to effortlessly capture and organize their favorite excerpts and quotes while reading paper books.

Platform Availability:

  • iOS

Its scanning function accurately detects page turns automatically extracting clean snippets without messy edges using AI. The camera overlay guide makes it easy to position books for blur-free scans.

All collected quotes are neatly sorted by book title and date. You can add tags like themes, reflections or to-do actions to snippets. The quotes can also be shared via iMessage or social media. However, the lack of cross-platform support is a major limitation.

6. Kindle: Best Built-in Highlighter

The Kindle e-reader needs no introduction for book lovers. Its built-in highlighting features make it a compelling option.

Platform Availability:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Kindle devices

It syncs ebook progress and highlights automatically across devices. You can view all highlights organized by chapter and book. Exporting highlights is easy—just select and copy-paste them. Multiple color options available.

The latest Kindle Scribe model even adds handwritten note-taking capability alongside highlighting. The Kindle ecosystem is reliable but works best for Amazon ebook users rather than web or PDF annotation.

7. Squid: Best for Handwritten Notes

If typing annotations is not your style, Squid offers one of the best handwriting experiences on mobile.

Platform Availability:

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Windows (beta)

It is highly optimized for stylus input with palm rejection technology for natural note-taking. The pressure sensitivity gives markings a realistic flair. You can directly annotate PDFs, ePubs, web clips using a variety of pens, highlighters and text tools.

All notes are accessible later for editing or exporting. The audio recording feature lets you also capture verbal explanations along with handwritten notes. Squid provides great value for students and creative pros via its free version.

8. PDF Highlighter: Best User Experience

PDF Highlighter lives up to its name with one of the smoothest PDF annotation experiences on mobile devices.

Platform Availability:

  • iOS
  • Android

Instead of tiny mice-like pointers, it provides marker-shaped tooltips for easy visibility while highlighting. Navigation is easy with intuitive gestures like swipe to scroll, pinch to zoom and lasso selection.

All highlights and drawings get saved directly within the PDF file for easy sharing while preserving original formatting. However, the free iOS version shows intrusive ads. You need to upgrade for ad-free experience and additional features like notes, shape tools and cloud backups.

9. Kami: Best Online Highlighter for Collaboration

Kami is a popular digital classroom tool used by over 90 million students and teachers globally.

Platform Availability:

  • Chrome and Edge browser extensions
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Web app

It facilitates group collaboration for project-based learning. Students can jointly annotate on shared online documents and get live notifications for discussion. Feedback tools like polls and rubrics also enable peer assessment during group assignments.

Teachers can track student engagement levels on readings assigned and pinpoint areas that need intervention. However, the core free version is quite limited unless upgraded to premium paid plans with enhanced admin controls and storage space.

10. Chegg Study: Best Community Support

Chegg Study is more than just a highlighter app. The platform offers specialized tools optimized for learning frameworks like flash cards, math solver, citation generator alongside its study eReader.

Platform Availability:

  • Web and mobile apps

However, the key differentiator of Chegg is connecting students directly to a network of subject matter experts for getting doubts resolved quickly. These online tutors can also annotate specific areas of confusion on your uploads.

Despite a vast knowledge base, certain advanced courses may not have matching tutors readily available. The expert help does not come cheap with subscriptions starting at $15 a month.

Key Considerations When Choosing a Highlighter App

Here are some tips to select the best highlighter app for your specific needs:

1. Platform availability: Ensure app is accessible across your connected devices like phone, tablet and laptop.

2. Types of content: Apps may be optimized for general web pages, ebooks, PDFs or scanned prints.

3. Advanced features: Evaluate which value-added tools like collaboration, citations etc. would be useful.

4. Freemium limitations: Check if you get adequate features without needing to upgrade right away.

5. User experience: Prioritize apps with clean navigation and interface suited for your device’s form factor.

Limitations of Mobile Highlighters

While mobile highlighter apps provide many advantages, its useful to be aware of some inherent limitations:

  • Small screens restrict visible text area for context
  • Increased eye strain and headaches from excessive usage
  • Suboptimal for graphics-heavy content like magazines
  • Difficult to replicate fine-tip precision of physical highlighters
  • Privacy vulnerabilities on apps handling sensitive data

Thus it helps to have reasonable expectations when choosing to highlight reading material on mobile devices.


Annotations are a handy way to actively engage with text content while condensing interspersed key insights for easy review.

I hope this guide gives you clarity in picking the top digital highlighter apps tailored to your specific highlighting needs and use cases across mobile platforms.

Choose an app aligning closely with your priorities across device access, content types, feature requirements and budgets. Finally, remember not to get so caught up highlighting text that you miss the forest for the trees!