• Pricing
  1. Home
  2. Annotate PDF
  3. How-To Guides
  4. Draw on PDF for Free Online

Draw on PDF for Free Online

by Eric Johnson

You can also read this article in German, Spanish, French, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese and Vietnamese.

You can quickly and easily draw on a PDF online for free. No account signup or software downloads needed. Here we show you how.

What if you could draw on a PDF—and add shapes, highlights, annotations, and more—all for free? You can and you don’t even need to register for an account. To get started right away, go here:

If you prefer to learn more about your options, in the rest of this article we’ll show you how to draw on a PDF using:

  • Smallpdf’s free PDF Drawing Editor
  • Canva’s PDF drawing feature
  • Mac’s PDF drawer in Preview

The first two options are online tools. With Smallpdf you get an advanced PDF drawing editor without even needing to sign up for an account. We’ll also show you how to draw on a PDF with Canva, but it requires you to register for a Canva account first.

We’ve added the third method for Mac users looking to add simple PDF drawings.

By the end of this short guide, you’ll know exactly how to write on top of your PDF, including PDF drawing tools to add shapes, arrows, and more.

1. Draw on PDFs for Free With Smallpdf

This first option comes highly recommended, but not just because we make it. Smallpdf is the only dedicated PDF tool that lets you draw on documents for free with no restrictions and no need to sign up or provide an email address.

We share some extra reasons why you’ll love it below, but first, here’s how to do it.

To start, open the Smallpdf PDF Drawing Editor in your browser, and drag-and-drop your PDF into the box or select a file from your device.

In the Annotate tab, you’ll see options to add text, highlights, and images to your document. You can also add shapes to your PDF, like lines, rectangles, circles, and arrows. With the pencil and marker tools, you can draw or paint on your PDF, and you can easily change colors and adjust the line thickness however you’d like.

Draw on PDF

In the Edit tab, you can add and delete text in your document and change document fonts. Editing text directly is a Pro feature, but you can take advantage of the unlimited 7-day free trial to test it out (don’t tell our Finance team we told you this).

Once you’ve added drawings or other annotations to your PDF, just click to export and download your PDF with drawings. You can also choose to download your file in Word, Excel, image, and other formats.

Key advantages:

  • Simple, user-friendly interface
  • No signup or installation required
  • Full range of PDF drawing and editing features
  • Options to convert and compress PDFs if needed

Smallpdf is also fully secure and protected with TLS encryption. And all documents are deleted from Smallpdf’s servers when you’re done, unless you choose to create an account. No one can see your documents but you.

2. Draw on PDF Documents Using Canva

Canva has become the go-to tool for creating simple designs for social media assets and presentations. It can also be used to draw on documents, including PDFs.

If you’re already a Canva user, open your Canva homepage and click the Upload button in the top right. If you’re not already a user, you’ll need to first create a new account, or you can use the Smallpdf Editor above without signing up.

How to draw a PDF in Canva

Select the PDF you want to draw on from your computer, and your document will open in a new window

Click the Draw function in the left menu bar, and use the marker tool to draw freehand over your PDF. You can also add other elements like text, images, and arrows to your PDF just like you would in any other Canva project.

When you’re finished drawing on your project, click Share to download your document as ‘PDF Standard’ or ‘PDF Print’, depending on how you intend to use your annotated PDF.

Key advantages:

  • Operates in your web browser
  • Easy option for existing Canva users

Canva isn’t actually a PDF drawing tool, so its features are limited and it’s not the best option for professional use. But if you’re already a Canva user looking to draw on a PDF online, it’s an option to keep in mind.

3. Use Your Mac's Built-in PDF Drawer

This last option is for Mac users. Your Mac’s Preview feature has basic document drawing functionality you can use to draw on PDFs.

To start, open your PDF on your Mac by double-clicking the file in your Mac’s Finder.

With your PDF open in Preview, access annotation tools by clicking the Markup icon in the main toolbar. You can also go to the View menu > Show Markup Toolbar.

Draw on PDF with Mac Annotate

There you’ll find basic tools to draw or write on your PDF, add shapes, and insert text boxes.

Key advantages:

  • Built into your Mac
  • No internet connection required

The Mac Preview option is great for simple annotations, but some of its annotation tools are more user-friendly than others. This may be enough for some Mac users, while others will appreciate the more intuitive online options shared above.

How Do I Draw on a PDF?

If you’ve ever asked that question, you now have three answers.

PDF drawing tools have come a long way since the early Acrobat days. You no longer have to pay for bulky tools you need to download. You can draw on a PDF online with a couple of clicks.

If you’ve had enough explanation and you’re ready to draw, click the button below and you’ll be drawing on your PDF in seconds.

Eric Johnson
Eric Johnson
Senior Content Writer @Smallpdf