Annotate your PDF files on OpenBSD

On my journey to leave macOS, I regularly look to mimic some of the features I use. Namely, annotating (or signing) PDF files is a really simple task using Preview. I couldn’t do it on OpenBSD using Zathura, Xpdf etc. But there is a software in the ports that can achieve this: Xournal.

Xournal is “an application for notetaking, sketching, keeping a journal using a stylus“. And now that my touchscreen is calibrated, highlighting can even be done with the fingers :)

To install the software, simply use the package manager:

# pkg_add xournal

Open the PDF document and start annotating it. The highlighter can spotlight text zones. The text tool allows adding text with your preferred font settings. The pen allows drawing on the PDF ; or sign it if that’s your goal.

Once finished, the job can be saved as a Xournal file (.xoj) or exported to a read-only PDF. Note that I had to use the “Legacy PDF Export” option to get a proper PDF that Zathura could display.

And that’s all.

Author: Joel Carnat

@work Technical Architect and SysAdmin ; @home OpenBSD and FOSS, Karate, Kobudō, Jōdō, Bodyweight workout, Photography & Music

3 thoughts on “Annotate your PDF files on OpenBSD”

  1. Xournal does have good note taking and drawing capabilities. However, the main issue with it is that it is *not* a PDF editor and, despite what it claims to do, it does not create true annotations. I.e. you can’t edit the annotations as, after exporting as PDF, the program effectively “flattens” the file.

    If you need to annotate PDF files, edit the annotations and/or share them, use Okular. Annotations created with Okular, can be edited with Preview on macOS.

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