PDF Utilities:

Options for Note-Taking and Studying PDF Lecture Notes


Mendeley is a free reference manager and academic social network. It allows you to make your own fully-searchable library, cite as you write, and read and annotate your PDFs on any device.



Notability is a $2.99 App for the iPhone/iPad and $4.99 App for the Mac. Notability is a powerful note-taker to annotate documents, sketch ideas, record lectures and more. It is the one place to create, share, and manage your academic notes. It combines handwriting, typing, audio recordings and photos so you can create notes that fit your needs. Your notes are always available thanks to iCloud support.


Squid (formerly Papyrus)

Squid (formerly Papyrus) is a free handwriting note-taking app for Android, Kindle Fire, Windows and Windows Phone. It allows you to easily mark-up PDFs, import images, and add typed text to your notes.



Anki is a flash card tool that assists you with remembering things easily.


Additional Options

Adobe Reader

Adobe Reader is a free software that you can download from the Adobe website. Adobe Reader lets you comment using the PDF annotator. It comes with a full set of commenting tools. You can add sticky notes, highlight text, and use lines, shapes, stamps and a typewriter tool to place comments anywhere on your PDF document.


CHMate is a way to read eBooks for EPUB and CHM format. You can organize your files into personal collections, add bookmarks and notes to your favorite passages, and find the desired text anywhere in your book.


Diigo comes in 4 versions (Free, Social, Standard, Professional). There is also a special version for Educators. You will need to sign-up with them to download the software. Diigo allows you to not only annotate PDF’s but also add highlighting and virtual sticky notes to web pages, digital photos, etc.

Growly Notes

Growly Notes is a $4.99 versatile Note-taking App for Mac. It enables you to collect data-rich text, images, PDFs, movies, audio clips-and arrange them on the page any way you like.


iAnnotate is a free software available for Android. Daunted by the need to work with PDF’s on the go? iAnnotate boosts your productivity with its intuitive interface that lets you annotate, manage, search, and share documents. For taking notes on lecture slides, annotating business documents, grading papers, signing contracts and much more. The newest version of iAnnotate features tabs, allowing you to have multiple PDF’s open at the same time.

Preview for Mac

Preview is a free software that comes pre-installed on all Mac computers. Technically, it is a browser/viewer for images and PDF files. However, Preview can do quite a bit more than simply let you view pictures and documents. On your PDF, you can highlight, draw rectangles, ovals, lines and arrows, each in different colors and line attributes. You also have tools to add text in boxes, speech bubbles, thought bubbles and even sticky notes in a variety of colors.

Read & Write for Google

Read & Write for Google is a free software extension for use with Google Chrome on PC, Mac and Chromebooks. It works with webpages and common file types in Google Drive, including Google Docs, PDFs, ePub files, and Kes files. It offers a range of powerful support tools including highlighting, read-aloud, language translation, and summarization.

Read & Write Gold

Read & Write Gold is free to all BU Students, Faculty and staff. It facilitates literacy, language learning, research, and good organizational habits. Its powerful tools are designed to help with everything from translation to paper editing making it useful for any student.


Skim is a free PDF reader and note-taker for Mac. It is designed to help you read and annotate PDFs.

Eye Strain, Fatigue and other Resources


Awareness is a free software for Mac and PC that plays a song for every hour of continuous computer use and displays how long youhave been using your computer without a break.


F.lux is a free software for Mac, PC, iPhone/iPad, and Android that adapts the color of your computers display to the time of day to reduce the “eerie blue glow.”

Protect Your Vision (PYV)

PYV is an application used from within a web browser (Chrome, IE, Firefox, Safari) that beeps and blacks our your screen on set schedules.


Twilight is an app for Android that makes your device screen adapt to the time of the day.

Time Out

Time Out is an app for Mac that will remind you to take breaks on a regular basis.


eyeCare – Protect your vision is an add on for Chrome that reminds you to take breaks and provides you with instructions for eye exercises.


Nocturne is a program for Mac which can change your display colors to adjust your color scheme for low light conditions.

Eye Pro v3 (ergo)

Eye Pro v3 (ergo) is a program for PC that reminds you to take breaks regularly and shows your eye exercises.