Skim - PDF reader and annotation software

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biosoftware mac

Skim is an excellent free PDF reader and annotation software for Mac OS X. It allows you to do digitally what you are used to on paper: highlight, underline, add sticky notes. Beyond what you can do on paper, with Skim you can quickly search the PDF and browse your notes in a separate pane. Get it, try it, and stop printing out kilos of paper that then bog you down when you have to move.


Skim icon.png

Features valuable for the science reader

  • facilitates reading PDFs with full screen mode, many zoom shortcuts, reading bar
  • easy searching using a pane on the left; list all hits with page number and marks them clearly in the text after selection
  • paper-like annotation including colour-highlighting, underlining, circles, boxes, full sticky notes, and anchored sticky notes that expand when clicked
  • dedicated pane listing your notes; searchable and hot-linked

File structure

Skim doesn't change the original PDF like you can with Acrobat. Instead, it attaches annotation info to the file. This is welcome since it allows you to remove your annotation before printing or passing on the PDF to a colleague. It is also superior to a two file system of a PDF paired to a comment file. Things can't get lost. Currently, if you open a Skim-annotated PDF with a different PDF viewer like Preview, you will see the bare PDF. The annotation remains hidden. You can, however, engrave the annotations in the PDF, at which point they can no longer be separated via the Skim export.