How to Extract Highlighted Text from a PDF on Mac

Artwork showing text, tables and images being extracted from the Highlights app icon to a PDF file

Highlights extracts highlighted text and other types of annotations from PDFs and lets you export them as notes on your Mac for free.

1. Open the PDF document in Highlights

From the menu bar choose File > Open. Locate and select the file you want to open, then click Open:

Window for opening PDF file in Highlights on macOS 11 Big Sur

The PDF opens in a window with your notes on the right:

Highlights document window for macOS 11 Big Sur

Your notes contain highlighted text and annotations that have been extracted using specific rules from the PDF.

2. Click the Share icon

This will bring up the export menu:

Export menu

For free users of Highlights, PDF will be the only enabled option in the export menu. Unlock Pro to get access to all options.

3. Select Destination

This brings up a save dialog.

4. Choose where you want to save it and click save

If you want to change how Highlights extracts your annotations, you can change what is included and the appearance of your notes in the note format preference pane:

Note format preference pane

You can also create your own sorting order for annotations using color categories.