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26

Cannot highlight text in a PDF.

New Here ,
Jun 28, 2015 Jun 28, 2015

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Too hard??  I have been using Adobe products for 20 years and never had a single problem highlighting a pdf.  Today I find I can't highlight a PDF and I really need to.  I have spent the entire day, its now 3:30pm, trolling the internet trying to find out how to highlight and Adobe PDF document.  Epic fail Adobe.

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Comment markup and annotate , General troubleshooting , iOS

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2 ACCEPTED SOLUTIONS
Adobe Employee ,
Jul 01, 2015 Jul 01, 2015

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Hi willm26591030,

Are you using the desktop app on a Windows/Mac computer or the mobile app on an iPad/iPhone or Android tablet/phone?  (Your forum post appeared in the mobile forum.  But it is not clear which app you actually use.)

It sounds like you have a different problem.  The other users in this forum thread had questions about how to find the commenting tools in the new mobile Reader app - Adobe Acrobat Reader for iOS or Android.

Your problem may be caused by the type of your PDF document.

Here are the most common cases.

(a) Scanned PDF document containing no real text

Try selecting text instead of highlighting text.  If you cannot select text at all (no matter how hard you try), your PDF document is likely a scanned PDF.  You can only add Text Markup annotations (Highlight, Underline, Strikeout) to real text, not to image of text.  You need to run OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software to turn images of text into real text.

(b) Secured/protected PDF document

The security settings or restrictions of the PDF document explicitly disallow commenting.  The author/distributor of the PDF document does not want you to add comments to it.  All of the commenting tools will be disabled in this case.

(c) Encrypted PDF document

When security settings (e.g. password, certificate) or restrictions are added to a PDF document, the document becomes encrypted.  Unlike the desktop version of Adobe Reader, the mobile Adobe Acrobat Reader apps (for iOS, Android, Windows Phone) have the known limitation where changes cannot be saved to encrypted PDF documents.  Therefore, users are not able to make any changes to encrypted PDF documents.  The easiest way to work around the problem is to use the desktop version of Adobe Reader.

Pleas let us know if you would like us to examine your PDF document to identify the particular reason why you cannot highlight text.

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 02, 2020 Jun 02, 2020

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The same happens to Adobe Acrobat Reader DC desktop version and I use a workaround:

• Click on Comment icon to enable the tools.

• Click on Draw Rectangle tool,

• Click on Change Color tool, choose the color and set opacity to about 40%,

• Click on Change Line Thickness tool and set to 0 pt,

• Draw a rectangle around the text you want to highlight.

If you are not satisfied with the color and opacity then right click the rectangle, click Properties and change its appearance.

This will also highlight over the character itself and the effect is not as good as the real Highlight.

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Adobe Employee ,
Jul 01, 2015 Jul 01, 2015

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Hi willm26591030,

Are you using the desktop app on a Windows/Mac computer or the mobile app on an iPad/iPhone or Android tablet/phone?  (Your forum post appeared in the mobile forum.  But it is not clear which app you actually use.)

It sounds like you have a different problem.  The other users in this forum thread had questions about how to find the commenting tools in the new mobile Reader app - Adobe Acrobat Reader for iOS or Android.

Your problem may be caused by the type of your PDF document.

Here are the most common cases.

(a) Scanned PDF document containing no real text

Try selecting text instead of highlighting text.  If you cannot select text at all (no matter how hard you try), your PDF document is likely a scanned PDF.  You can only add Text Markup annotations (Highlight, Underline, Strikeout) to real text, not to image of text.  You need to run OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software to turn images of text into real text.

(b) Secured/protected PDF document

The security settings or restrictions of the PDF document explicitly disallow commenting.  The author/distributor of the PDF document does not want you to add comments to it.  All of the commenting tools will be disabled in this case.

(c) Encrypted PDF document

When security settings (e.g. password, certificate) or restrictions are added to a PDF document, the document becomes encrypted.  Unlike the desktop version of Adobe Reader, the mobile Adobe Acrobat Reader apps (for iOS, Android, Windows Phone) have the known limitation where changes cannot be saved to encrypted PDF documents.  Therefore, users are not able to make any changes to encrypted PDF documents.  The easiest way to work around the problem is to use the desktop version of Adobe Reader.

Pleas let us know if you would like us to examine your PDF document to identify the particular reason why you cannot highlight text.

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Adobe Employee ,
Apr 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017

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[Branching has been done through How do I add text or highlight a document? ]

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New Here ,
Apr 15, 2019 Apr 15, 2019

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HI,

I have always been able to highlight text from a PDF that I create in Word or received by others but this time I cannot.  I am creating a PDF this time from Illustrator.  I have selected many options when saving but to no avail.  I want people to select text from my PDF but there is no option to allow it, it seems.  What can I do?

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 24, 2019 Apr 24, 2019

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Yes, I just had a user who has been using Acrobat Pro for years (now Pro DC), saving Web pages out to PDF from Firefox for research and finds most times the text won't highlight. Didn't have to do much as she opened the PDF in Word instead, which allows highlighting. Not sure how much longer she'll be using Acrobat because she'll migrate to whatever works out-of-the-box.

Sorry that doesn't answer your question directly, on how to get users to open with Acrobat.

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Community Beginner ,
Jul 27, 2022 Jul 27, 2022

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This is a version problem. The solution is to Save As and select the file format: "PDF/X" and you will be in highlighting heaven...

Furthermore, this will turn on highlighting in the right-click context sensative menu, and you can set properties to default to a particular highlight color. To take highlighting off, select "White..."

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New Here ,
Dec 05, 2023 Dec 05, 2023

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This solution did not work. Thanks for the idea. 

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Adobe Employee ,
Dec 10, 2023 Dec 10, 2023

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Hi @Vanessa33315978r47u 

 

Sorry for the experience. 

 

Would you mind letting us know the application you are using? 

Is it Acrobat for desktop (Windows/Mac) or Acrobat for mobile (Android/iOS)? Also, the workflow that you follow would be great to understand.

 

-Souvik

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 08, 2022 Nov 08, 2022

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Recently (within the past week) my highlighting functin changed. First, when highlighting, I no longer see any color as it is applied. Secondly, the color is opaque. Although I am able to create some transparency in preferences, it diminishes the color saturation. Highlighting should be able to use the fully vibrant color while allowing the image to be fully visible. This is how it worked until now.

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Adobe Employee ,
Nov 08, 2022 Nov 08, 2022

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Hi @Anthony27030307v8j3,

 

Sorry for the trouble. 

 

Can you try clicking on the pencil icon on the bottom right of the screen after opening the document and selecting the option stating "Add Comment"?

 

Once the toolbar comes up, select the highlighter, and you'll be able to change the color and opacity of the highlight.

 

Hope this helps.

 

-Souvik.

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Explorer ,
Nov 12, 2022 Nov 12, 2022

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I too have noticed this issue. I spent a long time reinstalling Reader & resetting my scanner, all to no avail. Highlighting now totally obliterates the text being "highlighted".

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Adobe Employee ,
Nov 12, 2022 Nov 12, 2022

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Hi @SergeiKat,

 

Sorry for the trouble. 

 

I will be contacting the team with the recent changes made and get back with the information at the earliest possible. 

 

In the meanwhile, what you can do is, go to edit mode and then use the the option to add comment and get the highlighter functions as they used to work earlier.

 

-Souvik

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New Here ,
Dec 28, 2023 Dec 28, 2023

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The answer to this problem is to 'print to pdf' from the problem doc.  The print to pdf action makes the text identifiable and now you can highlight!  yay!

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New Here ,
Jan 16, 2024 Jan 16, 2024

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Thanks Mandy, that worked. But it's a crazy solution! Why should we have to print and save a copy of the pdf we already have before we can edit it?

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Adobe Employee ,
Jan 16, 2024 Jan 16, 2024

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HI @Jerry pdf,

 

Have you tried the option to run OCR? If the file is not privacy-protected for editing, OCR should help.

 

To do so, open the file-> click on More Tools-> Run OCR.

 

Let me know if this helps.

 

-Souvik

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New Here ,
Jan 22, 2024 Jan 22, 2024

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Yes! Thanks Mandy. For months I too have been having this issue with documents I saved as Adobe PDFs. This is the only "crazy solution" that has worked. 

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New Here ,
Apr 25, 2019 Apr 25, 2019

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Not sure if someone solved this, but I had the same problem and fixed it (at least fixed what I was doing wrong) so it may help you. First, let me say I have Adobe Pro DC (paid version) so I don't know if the Free Reader has the same features.

My highlighter color somehow was switched to white (yes, you apparently can change the colors of the highlighter). So I was highlighting stuff, but couldn't see it because the page is white. Here is how I fixed it:

1. Open Adobe File

2. Click "View" at top.

3. Scroll down and click "Tools"

4. Click on "Comment"

5. Right Click on the Highlighter and click "Customize Comment Tool"

6. Scroll down and click to Add "Change Color" it looks like a Paint Can

7. Then Click that color and a color palette pops up with like sixteen different colors to choose, I picked light yellow (I'm boring like that)

8. Close Adobe

Next time you open the file it should stay the color you picked. At least it worked for me. Hope it helps.

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New Here ,
Feb 08, 2020 Feb 08, 2020

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Thanks! This was my issue too...

 

Why the hell it was set to white I don't know? I am 100% certain I didn't do that voluntarily - a cruel default setting...

 

I'm sure many others have that issue!!

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New Here ,
Nov 03, 2021 Nov 03, 2021

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Hello,  yes I just had the same issue but mine was in black, less than 2 months ago I had no problem highlighting text this was very helpful and worked for me Nov. 3 2021...cheers  

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New Here ,
Jan 26, 2022 Jan 26, 2022

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thank you for this!

 

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New Here ,
Feb 13, 2020 Feb 13, 2020

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Adobe Acrobat Pro XI on Mac running Mojave. 

The highlighter tool simply does not work on any documents. I have verified the properties (60% opaqueness, color yellow). When I select a section of text to highlight the selection gets a dashed lilne box around it that gets selected with the cursor, but it does not highlight. I have tried with multiple documents. Security on the documents is "none." Thanks for your help as this is a major problem keeping me locked into using paper copies of documents.

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New Here ,
Apr 26, 2020 Apr 26, 2020

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It doesen't work for me the previously suggested work around, earlier version was so easy to work with, but now!!!

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Community Beginner ,
Jul 27, 2022 Jul 27, 2022

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This is a version problem. The solution is to Save As and select the file format: "PDF/X" and you will be in highlighting heaven...

Furthermore, this will turn on highlighting in the right-click context sensative menu, and you can set properties to default to a particular highlight color. To take highlighting off, select "White..."

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Community Beginner ,
Aug 14, 2022 Aug 14, 2022

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I'm having the no-highlighting, no copying problem as well with my desktop Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. I tried saving it, as you suggesed, to PDF/X but couldn't do it. Under the drop-down extension menu, there was only .pdf*   I tried to just change the extension to the filename but got an error code. Thoughts? Thanks so much, everyone. 

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Adobe Employee ,
Aug 17, 2022 Aug 17, 2022

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@DeborahInLA Hi,

 

Have you tried using the option "Save as other"? You will get the Save as PDF/X there. You may check the screenshot for reference:

SS_1-1660796325539.png

Let me know if this helps.

 

Thanks,

Souvik.

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