Editing and reading PDFs with Xodo

Xodo is a web application that not only allows you to view PDF files, but also to edit them. The tool can be used on any computer in any modern web browser. The tool is also free. You do not have to take out a subscription when you want to edit a PDF. You can just go ahead.

Xodo is an online PDF viewer and editor for which you don’t pay a cent. This is different at Adobe. There you are immediately tied to a subscription if you want to edit PDFs. Xodo remains free, even if you choose the iOS or Amdroid version. We use the web app as a guide in this article. It is ideal: you do not need to install anything and it works great on your tablet, smartphone and computer. There is a good chance that you will even get the app working on your smart TV, if it is equipped with a browser.

No registration required

To get started, fire up the browser and pay a visit www.xodo.com. On the opened page, click the Invite button Launch now. Browse via Windows Explorer or via the files on a Chromebook to a folder with PDFs.

Open an instance by simply going to the box Drag and drop a file here to drag. In our example we take a retro-Computer Idee from quite a few years ago. You will now see the PDF open in the browser.

That in itself is not earth-shattering, because Firefox, Chrome and even Edge no longer have any problems with that. Only in Xodo is that different. Just look at the buttons at the top. These lead you to all kinds of useful editing and annotation options. You will also see a registration button at the top right. Don’t worry: Xodo is doing just as well without registering.

A PDF opened in the Xodo web app.

One or more pages

If your PDF is on the small side, you can enlarge it by clicking the plus button. The old Ctrl + scroll wheel also works fine. If the screen surface and resolution are high enough, you can display two pages side by side at the same time. To do this, click on the gear button and click behind Layout on the middle option. Also under the gear you will find the possibility to turn pages, which is sometimes very useful.

Highlight and underline

The buttons in the right part of the toolbar are actually the most interesting. Click on the A (standard with a yellow background) and you will have access to a highlighter in various colors. You also get options to strike out or underline text.

To mark text traditionally yellow, click on – how surprising – the yellow color. Click on the beginning of a piece of text that you want to highlight, keep holding down the left mouse button and drag to the end, to release the button there. Be sure to try out the mentioned strikethrough, underline and underline functions.

You can also mark, underline or strike through.


It goes without saying that pre-baked shapes such as squares, ovals and text clouds should also be part of a decent PDF editor. You can find this in Xodo under the shapes button, directly to the right of the mark button. Click on it and choose a shape. Each shape has a triangle at the bottom right. Click on that and you can fine-tune the shape, think of line width, color and that sort of thing. Then draw the shape where you want it and you’re done.

A chosen shape can be further adapted to taste.

Add text

Very nice is the button T. With this you simply add text to a PDF. This can be useful if someone has emailed you a PDF that you think is missing something important. This way you can immediately correct this shortcoming.

After a click on the T. you will also see a triangle at the bottom right here. If you click on it, text size, color and thickness are adjustable. Unfortunately you can not set a font, you have to do with the default copy.

Add text to a PDF.

To draw

Do you want to draw freehand? For example with the drawing pen that comes with your tablet? Then click on the very first button in the right part of the button bar, in the shape of a pen. Four pens are available, initially preset with commonly used colors. But if you click on the now familiar triangle at the bottom right of the pen icon, you can choose a color, set the thickness and control the degree of transparency.

Freehand drawing is not a problem in Xodo.


A common job is to sign a PDF form sent by e-mail. You could arrange that wonderfully old-fashioned: printing, drawing, scanning to PDF and then emailing back. You can also take a slightly more modern approach and add your signature digitally. That saves a few steps.

To do this, click on the signature button, right next to the shapes button. Via the triangle at the bottom of the button you can set things like line width and color. Then click in the form, or in this example somewhere on an empty spot, where you want to place a signature. Draw the signature and then click on the check mark at the bottom right of the signature tool. The happy owners of a touch screen can also get busy with their finger.

If you want to move, enlarge or reduce the signature afterwards, first click on the arrow in the left part of the toolbar next to the hand. Then click on the inserted signature, after which you will see a frame with handles. You can make the signature larger or smaller via the handles. You can also move the signature by dragging.

Put a virtual signature, it’s that easy.


PDF files are often used as proofs to read reports, for example. You can use the aforementioned marking tools and the like to indicate things that need to be changed. It is less convenient to indicate the text to be changed via added text, which quickly makes it very unclear.

For suggested adjustments, it is better to use the comment tool. Click on the button with the speech bubble (to the right of the T-button) and then click in the text where you want to post a comment. A small speech bubble icon will appear in that place, while a window will open on the left at the same time. Here you enter your comment, followed by a click Save.

Incidentally, this is the only time that creating an account and logging in may become interesting. If you view and comment on a PDF with several people (and preferably all use Xodo), each comment will contain the name of the person who added the comment.

Add comments to the PDF.

Save file

You can always call up that overview window on the left with a click on the leftmost button on the bar. Apart from a list of all changes made, a page overview (first button directly above the column) and an index are also available. Now you have to save the document with your scribbles, comments and other things.

To do this, click on the button Save top right. You will now see the text Pre-paring download, which can remain for a while if it is a somewhat larger and more complex PDF. Then the file will be downloaded and you will find it in your download folder, or another folder specified by yourself.

To merge

If you close the browser tab with the editor, you return to the underlying Xodo tab. If you go there again Launch now you can open a new PDF using a drag action. You will also find the button here Merge pdfs. Click on it and successively drag and drop several PDF files to the field in the center of the page.

Even more convenient: select multiple files at once in the explorer and drag the selection. You do this by holding down Ctrl while clicking. In our example, for example, we make a quick combination PDF of a number of publications of Computer Idee. In the overview that opens after adding, you can still adjust the order of the individual PDF files by dragging them. You could even collect a complete volume in one PDF, useful for the e-reader for example.

To download the merged PDF files as a whole, click Save in the overview page. Please provide a good file name after which the merge will start. In the case of large documents, such as several complete magazines, this job can take a long time. Finally, the merged document can be downloaded and saved in a folder.

Just put those PDFs together.

Organize pages

A last trick that Xodo knows is reordering pages in a PDF. This is useful if for some reason not everything is in the correct order. The orientation of individual pages (or all) can also be adjusted. You do this with a turning action.

To reposition pages, drag them into the thumbnail overview. That appears after on the homepage of Xodo on Launch now and then on Organize pages to click. Here you drag a PDF in the upload area to any desired position. Downloading the modified PDF is done via the Savebutton at the top right of the screen. To turn a page, you use the dials. Run everything in one go? Then press Ctrl + A click and then click one of the rotary controls.

Shuffle the pages.

Xodo apps

An app version of Xodo is available for both Android and iOS / iPadOS. The options of the app and web app are almost the same. However, the app is always available, even without an internet connection.

The web app variant is useful for Chromebooks. The app form may be more practical for a tablet or smartphone. This allows you to read your PDFs on the go, even if there is no internet available.


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