In the Trunk: PDF Annotation by PDFpen

Posted by on 29 Jul 2010

Posted by on 29 Jul 2010

For as long as I can remember, products have come along promising to help me go paperless. It seems that unless the application is able to completely replace a paper-heavy process, that promise falls flat. For the first time in a long time, we have something that actually works: PDFpen and Evernote.

PDFpen is a PDF annotation tool from SmileOnMyMac, which allows you to edit, sign, fill out, and do just about anything else with PDF documents. Once you’ve finished making annotations, you can send them into Evernote. Through some clever use of the Evernote API and our AppleScript capabilities, once the PDF is sent into Evernote, they trigger a synchronization, so that the PDF is instantly available across all of your devices.

Why this is cool

Every single day, I am presented with new PDF contracts and documents that need signing. Before PDFpen and Evernote, I would print them, sign them, scan them, email them back, and file the paper copy. No more. Now, I open the PDF in PDFPen, fill it out and sign it, email it, and save it in Evernote. Not only has this eliminated my primary reason for printing documents, but it has also made the entire process significantly more streamlined.

An entire workflow in the Trunk

When it comes to dealing with documents, the Evernote Trunk has you covered. To help you steadily kick the paper habit, check out the great scanners that have integrated Evernote, as well as scanning services OfficeDrop and Shoeboxed. Once you have the scanned PDFs in Evernote, use PDFpen (Mac) or Nitro PDF (Windows) to sign and annotate. Take a look in the Evernote Trunk for these and other great integrations.

Don’t forget, Evernote Premium users also get the ability to search within their scanned document PDFs, making it even easier to find them later.


SmileOnMyMac is generously offering Evernote users a 20% discount off of your PDFpen purchase. Use the code EVERPDF during checkout. This offer is valid until August 6th. Get PDFpen from the Evernote Trunk.


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33 Comments RSS

  • bruce maclean

    Will there be a similar solution for the the iPad? If so I can ditch my laptop.

  • John Kaess

    Seems like a Mac only program.

    • Andrew Sinkov

      PDFpen is Mac only. If you’re looking for a Windows PDF annotation tool with an Evernote integration, check out Nitro PDF (

      • Matthew Guay

        Actually, the free beta Nitro Reader works the best, and it’s fully integrated to Evernote and is listed in the Trunk, too. Just edit your PDF, and then click the Evernote button in the file menu to save the edited PDF back to Evernote. That easy! FYI, you can download it at

      • Alexander Deliyannis

        I use Nitro PDF Pro but I see no such button. Is it only available in the free reader? It seems rather odd.

      • elijah

        How about BlueBeam PDF Revu?

  • JLC

    Have to say, disappointed with this direction of adding functionality by having us purchase and install 3rd party tools to accomplish functionality we were hoping you were working on in your own product and when listening to past podcasts, sounded like you were working on.

    As far as I can tell this does nothing for me on the iPad as well. Sorry, love Evernote and I’m a premium user but not on board with the app store approach.

  • Vladimir Campos

    This is really cool! Both companies and products are fantastic and even better working together. But since you are talking with and about Smile on my Mac, please, please, please and please again, ad TextExpander Touch to Evernote App on the iPhoen. This would make things much easier!

  • Peter McCormack

    Signing documents? Presumably in an informal sense?

  • Bill The Editor

    Does the PDFpen discount apply to PDFpen Pro as well? If it does, I’m buying it. If not, I’ll pass.

  • NeuroJoe

    I’ve been using PDF Annotator for months now on my Fujitsu tablet (a REAL tablet with computer functionality 🙂 and it works great with Evernote. One tap to open a PDF saved in Evernote, annotate as you like and then hit save. Boom, changes automatically show up in Evernote.

  • Sara

    I agree with Vladimir!!

  • Chris Gibbs

    If you import a pdf file into evernote can you then use anything to create a tick box against individual items in it? If not is there a format you can use?

  • Jean MacDonald/SmileOnMyMac

    Bill The Editor: Yes, the discount is good on both PDFpen and PDFpen Pro, including Family Packs.

    • Bill The Editor

      Thanks, Jean! I bought it.

      Also bought Doxie on your recommendation. Thanks for both!


  • Gregg

    I don’t like PDF Pen. It crashes. Cant highlight all the time, cant OCR all the time. I discovered Noterize for the Ipad that is far better. So I Print/Save PDF to Dropbox, then pull the PDF from Dropbox on my Ipad to Noterize, do wonderfully varied annotation work then send on to EN. Noterize allows you to take notes, sync with an audio recording,etc. Check it out.

  • Gregg

    Found yet another alternative. Notify for the Ipad. Seems a little better than Noterize for highlighting PDFs before sending into EN. Of course, if EN would finally provide highlighting, all of these workarounds wouldn’t be necessary.

  • Jeff Andrews

    These third party solutions for PDF annotation are MISSING ONE BIG THING, the ability to easily make on-going notations on the PDF. If you mark up PDF’s only once and then need to archive them, these will likely work fine. But if you need to mark them up, store them in EN, review them again, add/edit notes, this isn’t all that easy.

    PLEASE add annotation capability directly in Evernote!


  • Neomusashi

    This should be build into evernote as a capture feature, not a third party app.
    Imagine haw awesome this would be on an ipad.

    At the moment i use Iannotate on pdf and this should be the feature set available in evernote.

  • John Paton

    I completely agree with the last two comments. Get annotating abilities directly in EN so we can create on going annotations. Either do that or make it so annotations are automatically synced with Nitro and EN!

  • John Madden

    I agree with the above as a Premium User. I am going paperless but to work I need to scan some documents into EN as PDF. But I MUST be able to add ongoing annotations and have these as the latest document – i.e. within EN. If anyone has any workarounds please let me know – this is a real restriction in using EN.

  • Marsha Taubenhaus

    There is a work-around, although it’s abit of a pain. Right click on the doc and click on Fonts, select Show Fonts. The background controller is the pane with the white box. Select the text you want to highlight, click on the background pane, and select the color you want. It will then be highlighted. I do wish they would come up with an easier way to do this.

  • Jason

    I second the motion to make PDF editing standard for premium Evernote users! PLEASE add this!!!!

    • Carlos

      I third that motion to allow PDF annotations for premium users. I am a firm believer and promoter of Evernote and people are always telling me that the most time consuming aspect is the scanning of annotated PDFs.

  • Dennis

    If I could be granted 1 and only 1 wish from the EN Development team…Being able to highlight & annotate a pdf, saving my changes each time-allowing me to do so from iPad(most important, cause that’s where I do most of my reading), iPhone and Mac. Because alot of my reading is done on my iPad during times that would have been wasted prior to iPad, it’s essential that the iPad is where the development time should be spent. This would be the one thing EN is missing that would allow me to ditch most everything else I use. I have iAnnotate, Note Taker HD, GoodReader and a host of other Apps on my iPad, I bought each one hoping it was going to make going paperless with highlighting and annotating possible, each one is fine in it’s own right, but the whole process of using them and getting the updates/end result to EN is clunky at best. I have a fancy, high end scanner that will eat a double sided document of 100+ pages in a matter of a couple of minutes. Now I have them on the road with me, anytime I have extra time to read I’m able to knock out a few pages and pickup where I left off, it never fails that I want to highlight/annotate and share these PDF’s. I too am begging for Evernote to be able to take this next progression. I have read all the comments to date on this subject, each of the workarounds is clunky and un-natural (is that a word?) requiring lots of extra steps. Just for the record, I too am a premium user of EN. BTW, Love Evernote and I mean no disrespect in mentioned my request.

  • Steph

    I just have to echo the overall sentiment from previous posts:
    please please incorporate this annotating feature into EN itself.
    luckily, on Preview (mac) you can highlight and type notes into a pdf file, but it would be amazing to not have to save and edit on preview before i can drag drop the file onto EN.
    annotating pdfs (including “handwriting” feature) would be amazing for the ipad app.
    this would seriously make EN unbelievable.

  • Michael A. Vickers

    Okay, I’ll be the contrarian here.

    At first I didn’t like the trunk concept either, thinking that all the extra things I wanted to do with notes and the objects stored in notes should be built right into Evernote. But then I saw the beauty of the way they’ve architected it.

    Evernote more or less acts as the base note platform while the trunk apps (or extensions, or plugins) provide ancillary functionality that maybe not everybody wants and doesn’t want to weigh their computer down with. If Evernote did include pdf annotation right in the app it’s guaranteed that a large portion of their user base will hate it outright or hate the way it’s executed.

    Just think if all the plugins you see available for your favorite browser was cooked right into the browser. That would be a lousy experience. Instead you get to choose what kind of functionality you want to add, and often times you have a few choices for that kind of functionality.

    So I say kudos to Evernote for keeping the platform open and allowing third parties to extend Evernote in areas where those third parties (probably) have a stronger knowledge of those technologies (such as pdf editing) they are extending.

  • Rob

    Love evernote, PDF Pen is terrible… crashed over 26 time since I purchased yesterday and support has not responded to my request for support.

  • Samir

    Is there anyway to highlight PDF files, assign tags to those highlights, and then extract them into Evernote? I got a javascript code that will extract my highlighted text from a PDF, and allow me to add some notes. I then drop it into an Access database. Would be better if I could put into Evernote.

  • Marc


    how come when I, for instance, mark up something on my Mac OSx Lion using PDFpen, it does not appear to be marked in the preview version of my windows Evernote client? When I open up the marked pdf file, it is indeed marked… how weird!!!

  • Mike

    I would like a way to annotate (highlight, draw on) PDFs that I already have uploaded to Evernote. My current workflow is to download the PDF to my desktop, edit it in Preview, upload to Evernote (again) and delete the original note.

  • Robin

    I’ve fallen in love with Penultimate. On Mac, saved a PDF as a screen-“Grab”-bed tiff, then resaved as .gif with no real degradation. Uploaded to Dropbox (could use Evernote, too, I guess. Plan to download the .gif version of the .pdf as a picture, then paste into Penultimate, then mark up with stylus, then send to Evernote. Phew. It’s a digital Rube Goldberg machine!


    Savvy ideas , I loved the info , Does someone know where I might be able to obtain a template 2015 CA FTB 593-C copy to fill in ?