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PDF-XChange Viewer, a further review
Part 2, Annotation in PDFXCV

by Micheline Johnson

PDF-XChange Viewer (PDFXCV) has already been reviewed by Alan German. This is Part 2 of a review that looks at PDFXCV from a somewhat different viewpoint. (Read Part 1 here).

Annotation, high-lighting and drawing tools allow the adding of text (such as the source URL) and other markup anywhere on an open PDF document. There is a Comment and Markup Toolbar (right-click on free space on any toolbar and enable Comment and Markup Toolbar) shown below, which is useful when you are editing the PDF in this way.

These tools include: Sticky Note, Typewriter, Text Box, Call Out, Highlight Text, Cross Out Text and Underline tools. There are a number of drawing tools (Arrow, Line, Rectangle, Oval, Polygon, Cloud), File Attachment, free hand draw and erase, and Stamps.

Similar tools are available in Adobe Reader X and up, see Mott1. In addition, you can toggle on or off a formatting toolbar by pressing Ctrl+E. This formatting toolbar will change depending on which Comment and Markup tool has been selected. Typical formatting bars shown below are for text (left) and for boxes (right).

Comment and Markup can also be accessed via the Tools dropdown menu, which offers you:

Basic Tools (Hand tool, Select tool and Snapshot tool),
Zoom Tools (Zoom in and out, Magnifying Loop, and Pan and Zoom tools)
Comment and Markup Tools,
Measuring Tools (Distance, Perimeter and Area), and
Link Tools (rectangle and quadrilateral)

This route also gives you access to: Show Stamps Palette, Show Comments and Markup toolbar, and Show Comments List

Sticky Note
Click on Sticky Note icon on the Comment and Markup Toolbar and press Ctrl+E to open the Sticky Note format tool. The format tool allows you choose fill colour, note icon (see right), and opacity, when the box is active. When you click inside the box, the format bar changes to a text formatting bar. Click on the PDF text where you want the Sticky Note icon to appear. A box opens outside the PDF display where you can type your comment.

You can write or paste text anywhere in your displayed PDF by clicking on the Typewriter icon on the Comment and Markup Toolbar. Click on the screen where you want the text to start. The formatting toolbar allows you to set the Font Type, Font Size, Font Colour etc. Make your choice and click the Make Default button to make your selection the default. For example, open News 1512 from the web into PDFXCV, then using the Typewriter Tool, paste the URL at the top of the PDF. Save the modified PDF.

Text in a box
You can write or paste text in a box anywhere in your displayed PDF by clicking on the Text Box icon on the Comment and Markup Toolbar. To format the box, press Ctrl+E. The icons in this box format tool are (left to right) fill colour, border colour, border style, border line thickness in points, opacity and blend mode (see manual p.138), respectively. To form the box, click where you want the box to appear, and drag to adjust the box size. Click in the box to enter the text.

Callout Tool
You can write or paste text in a callout box anywhere in your displayed PDF by clicking on the Callout icon on the Comment and Markup Toolbar. To format the text in the box, press Ctrl+E. Move the cursor to where you want the point of the arrow to appear and drag the cursor to where you want the text box to appear. Enter your callout text and adjust the size of the box.

Highlight, Cross-out and Underline Tools
The icons (shown on the right) on the Comment and Markup Toolbar allow you to highlight, cross-out or underline selected text. Ctrl+E opens a formatting bar, which allows you to select the colour and opacity of the highlight, cross-out and underline tools respectively. The underline format bar also includes an underline style icon (straight or squiggly line). The underline thickness is so thin that it is barely visible. The format bar should have included a line thickness (pts) icon.




Drawing Tools
The Comment and Markup Toolbar includes a multiplicity of Drawing tools (see above). These include Arrow, Line, Rectangle, Oval, Polygon Line, Polygon, and Cloud Tools respectively.

The Arrow tool is very versatile. Its format bar (Ctrl+E) includes control of Fill colour, Arrow colour, Border style, Border width, Start style, End style, Opacity and Blend. The arrow start (left) and end (right) options are shown to the right.

Click on the PDF where you want the arrow to start, and drag to the end point, which can be in any direction. With these options, you can choose to have the arrow at the start of the line, or at the end of the line, or both.

The Line tool has the same Start and End style options as for the Arrow tool (see right). The Rectangle, Oval, Polygon Line, Polygon tools Border style includes the cloud style.

The Attachment tool format bar offers a choice of attachment icon (see right). When you click on the PDF, it opens file explorer and lets you select the file to be attached. It then warns you that “This is a feature of PDF-XChange Viewer PRO. You may use it in the FREE version, but it will result in DEMO(!) labels on your PDF pages if you save the file.”

The Pencil tool allows you freehand drawing on your PDF.

The Erasor tool erases only those parts that were drawn by the Pencil tool. Its Format toolbar allows erasor diameters from 5 pt to 100 pt. (spaced by multiples of two, ie 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pts).

Certain graphical images such as APPROVED, CONFIDENTIAL, DRAFT, EXPIRED, FINAL, FOR COMMENT, NOT APPROVED, NOT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE, SOLD, TOP SECRET etc, which are built in, can be imported into the active PDF. Additional images such as signature blocks, can be imported and applied. These images are known as stamps.



New stamps and new palettes can be added by going to
Tools drop down menu | Comment and Markup Tools | Show Stamps Palette | New
The manual warns you that should you stamp your signature block onto a PDF, “we strongly recommend you use the 'Flatten Comments' option to ensure your signature is not easily interfered with in the final PDF once distributed.”

[1] How to Add Comments to a PDF with Acrobat Reader, by Elizabeth Mott, Demand Media, no date,

Mott lists support in Adobe Reader X and up for: The Sticky Note and Highlight tools from the Annotations panel; and the Text Box, Text Callout, Line, Arrow, Oval or Rectangle, Cloud, Polygon, Polygon Line and Pencil tools from the Drawing Markups panel.

Bottom Line:

Tracker Software (incorporated in 1997) has its headquarters in Vancouver Island. The current version (2.5.0312.1) was released 2015-02-09. PDFXCV free downloads are available from the Download Now box at the top-right of its web page at, including

ZIP installer (32/64 bit), 17 MB (includes EXE installer, plus XML file for the Shell Extension for viewing thumbnails in Windows Explorer.)

Viewer Manual (PDF), 7 MB

EXE installer (32/64 bit), 17 MB

Portable version (ZIP), 8 MB

and more

For a more detailed version of this article, read section 6 online at:,_a_further_review,_update_2016-02-01.pdf

Originally published: May, 2016

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