10 best screen annotation software for Mac & Windows

Radu Tyrsina
by Radu Tyrsina
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
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  • On-screen annotation software (also called screen marker software) lets you annotate desktop screens and apps and then save your results, sometimes even in real-time (during a presentation).
  • If your job involves creating informative presentations every once in a while, screen annotation software can really make a difference in terms of how your audience perceives the message of your demonstration.
  • If you'd rather annotate your content before showing your presentation, you can use screen capture tools.
  • You can discover more productivity software solutions by visiting our dedicated section.
Screen annotation software

On-screen annotation or screen marker software lets you annotate desktop screens and apps and then save your results.

In other words, screen annotation software can also be seen as a mix of presentation, screen capturing, whiteboard and note-taking tools.

Such tools are useful especially for teachers or professional who often deliver presentations and don’t want to spend too much time preparing slides.

Here are the essential features for screen annotation software:

  • It should include all kinds of drawing tools including pen, arrow, rectangle, text box, and free hand; it should also sport focus tools.
  • It should allow you to delete and move objects, erase, undo and so on.
  • If should feature smooth on/off annotation.
  • It should be able to capture the whole screen or just a region in an editable format.
  • It should work with any software.
  • It should provide you the opportunity to magnify areas.
  • It should feature automatic numbering.
  • You should be able to hide it or certain things on the screen.

Here are the best tools for screen annotation

 Adobe Reader

adobe reader annotate document


Adobe Reader is the most popular PDF reader in the world. This fact alone confirms the great value of this tool. You can use the free version of Adobe Reader to view PDF files and add annotations or you can get the premium version if you want to edit, convert, and protect your PDF files.

If several persons or team members are working on the same document, leaving notes, comments, sticky notes or drawings is a great way to provide feedback or share ideas.

Adding comments is really simple. You don’t need to open any complicated menus, you can add your comments while you’re reading your PDF documents. All you need to do is select the text or the image you want to annotate and click on the Add Note option.

The secondary toolbar of the Comment feature is located on the right side of the screen for additional options. You can also add a Sticky Note to leave a comment.

You can also use the drawing tool to add a specific shape and then type your comment. Also, you can type a text message using the Sticky Note tool.

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Presentation Pointer

With the help of this tool, you will be able to grab your audience’s attention and focus. Check out its most useful features below:

  • Pointer Effect highlights visibility pointer, mouse movements and it also provides a spotlight effect.
  • The Mouse Click Effect displays a circle when you click the mouse, and you can also get an animation effect and different colors for different buttons.
  • The Live Drawing feature allows you to draw freely on the screen without locking it; you can draw horizontal lines, vertical lines, and arrow lines and if you press the hotkey you can clear everything.
  • With Live Zoom, you can zoom in and out of the windows, but you can work on the screen at the same time.
  • The tool also displays your keystrokes in an overlay at the bottom of the screen.
  • The Keystroke filter lets you define a list of custom keystrokes that will not be displayed.
  • You can activate and deactivate all the effects with the toggle Hotkey.
  • All the effects can be managed in two modes, together and standalone.
  • Everything about this tool is customizable.

You can try it for free with the trial version or buy Presentation Pointer for $20 and get a discount if you buy multiple licenses.

Get now Presentation Pointer 

Presentation Marker

Presentation Marker allows users to mark straight on screen and to zoom in certain portions for quick explanations for increased clearness.

This tool provides users various screen marker tools including Curtain, Spotlight, Arrow Point, Screen Digital Clock, Screen Capture, Magnification and so on.

The tool is perfect for a product demonstration or a foil presentation where annotation comes in handy for better illustration.

Check out its key features:

  • You can mark on your screen, and the screen marker tools include Arrow, Line, Ellipse, Brush, Pen, and Rectangle.
  • Electronic Whiteboard which allows you to draw freely on the board; you can add more boards and set different background colors.
  • Full-Screen Zoom allows zooming the screen with the keyboard or wheel.
  • Live Drawing on Screen lets you draw freely on the screen but not lock the screen.
  • With Live Zoom, you can zoom in and zoom out the windows but allows you to work on the screen.
  • You can preside over a meeting more effectively with Countdown timer, Task shortcuts and you can also play background music.
  • You can grab your audience’s attention and focus with Pointer effect, Mouse click effect, and Keystrokes displaying.

The software also features a portable version that you can carry together with your multimedia lecture content. You just have to plug your USB drive into the PC and then run it. For some users, the tool palette may be overkill.

You can get Presentation Marker for $29.95 and Presentation Marker Pro for $44.95.

Impress your audience with the best presentation software today!

Windows Snipping Tool

This is the built-in grabber on Windows that you might not even know it exists. This tool is available on all Windows systems, including Windows XP.

Users usually ignore it as it’s hidden in the deepest recesses of the Start menu.

Take a look at its most notable features:

  • Even if the tool is straightforward, it has enough power to take useful screen captures.
  • It allows you to get full-screen images, rectangles, and the currently active window.
  • It can also perform free-form snips: you can drag your mouse around the area of the screen that you are interested in highlighting and it will bring in the pixels within your sketch.
  • You also get the chance of scribbling on your shots with quite a rudimentary highlighter and pen, but it’s working well.
  • You can also set a delay on captures in case you need to set something particular up.

In case you don’t need complicated features, you will definitely be better off using Windows’ built-in tool. Just go to Start, type Snipping Tool and double click the first result to launch the tool.

Create the best diagrams and flowcharts with these great apps!

Annotate Pro

Annotate Pro is quite an ergonomic software, and you can check out its most important features below:

  • You can annotate so that your audience can efficiently follow along with you. You can easily exit the draw mode by clicking the arrow button on the right-click on your mouse and then continue to the next area of your training.
  • The tool allows you to communicate effectively with your colleagues and you can draw on top of any program that’s running on your desktop.
  • You can also draw anywhere on your screen to communicate all product changes to the development staff.
  • You can annotate and save a screenshot, and your help desk can troubleshoot your problem much easier; you won’t need expensive or hard to use graphics software.
  • The latest features included in the newest release of the program include multiple undo, arrow tool, highlighter, hotkeys and more.

In case you have to deal with display errors with arrows and more geometric forms the whole issue will go away after you click twice on the transparency button. The software is not recommended for Windows 7.

You can get a free trial of the program, or you can purchase Annotate Pro for $19.95.

Editor’s Note: This article continues on the next page. If you’re interested in other annotation tools, check out our wide collection of guides.