Best 17 markup tools in 2023 (free and paid)

Collect feedback from all your reviewers on documents

Great content often requires many iterations. But most of the time, collaborating on different file types isn’t as easy as it should be. That’s when markup tools come into play. They can help your team directly work together on content and achieve amazing results on every project.

But there are a lot of choices out there. So this article is going to take a closer look at the best online markup tools out there. We’ve categorized the editing and drawing tools according to the file type they are suitable for.

The collaborative markup tool for modern teams

Create markers, draw annotations, and leave comments on top of documents, PDFs, videos, designs, and more.

PDF markup tools

The humble PDF remains very popular, so there are many PDF markup tools out there. Here’s a closer look at the best PDF commenting tools to support all your projects.

1. Filestage – best markup tool with a free plan

Compare versions_ poster

Filestage is a document approval tool that makes it simple to collaborate and comment on PDF documents, videos, graphics, and marketing projects in general. 

It offers project managers a wide range of PDF annotation and proofing features, which makes it easy for your internal and external key stakeholders to leave and discuss logical in-context feedback in real-time.

A range of workflow features will make sure that you never miss a deadline or a game-changing suggestion. Next to custom pricing options, Filestage offers a free plan – so you can check out the markup software at no risk.

Key benefits for PDF markup

  • Use auto-compare to easily spot differences between two file versions and seamlessly track the progress of your PDF file
  • Speed up your approval process with real-time collaboration and eliminate needless email chains
  • Easily collaborate with your colleagues and clients by leaving comments and suggestions on top of your files as they progress
  • Increase the productivity of your team by inviting everyone to markup all PDFs in one place
  • Take advantage of version control by jumping back to previous versions of the same document to easily know when a document is completed and approved
  • Give specific feedback by tagging people in the comments and making feedback more direct 

2. Markup Hero

markup hero

Markup Hero is a powerful and user-friendly tool designed to simplify and enhance the process of capturing and annotating screenshots. It empowers users to communicate their ideas, collaborate effectively, and streamline workflows. With Markup Hero, you can quickly capture screenshots of web pages, documents, or images, select markup, and then annotate them with various tools and markup options.

The tool offers an intuitive interface, making it easy for both beginners and professionals to use. It provides a wide range of annotation tools, including markup icon, arrow icon, shapes, text, pencil tool, and highlights, enabling users to emphasize specific areas, add explanatory notes, or draw attention to important details. Plus, it allows you to blur sensitive information, crop images, and add customizable callouts.

The tool makes collaboration seamless with the real-time collaboration features, feedback, and discussions, making it ideal for teams working remotely or individuals seeking input from others.

3. Xodo PDF Reader & Annotator

Xodo PDF Reader Screenshot

Xodo allows users to edit, annotate, sign, and share your PDF file on desktops, smartphones, and the cloud. It’s also possible to invite collaborators by using their email addresses, which is a nice touch.

This option is great if you want a simple PDF markup tool. But if you also want more sophisticated mobile apps that support you with your project and task management activities, this might not be the right tool for you. Since it can’t help with task management and checklists, the text tool could cause you to miss comments and changes.

4. Drawboard

Drawboard Screenshot

Drawboard is PDF markup software that boasts a wide range of markup tools, including a drawing tool, and ability to write with digital ink.

But this PDF tool is only available for Windows 10 users, which limits its scope and makes it such a specialized text tool that your external stakeholders may have trouble accessing it. So these limitations of Drawboard could affect your ability to accurately collect feedback for your PDF documents.

5. Annotate

Annotate Screenshot

Annotate is a smart digital workplace that helps your team take online PDF documents from the first draft to final sign-off.  Some users complain that the pricing is not as transparent as it should be, which could create some confusion and make it difficult to ascertain its true value.

Given the pricing of the PDF tool, users might also expect it to support alternative formats, such as videos and images. Also check out our list of the best free PDF markup tools in 2023.

Video and audio markup tools

Faster computers and internet speeds have recently made video annotation and markup tools a more viable option for project managers, and video was already popular.

6. Filestage

Review videos online

Filestage also offers best-in-class video markup features, making it the right video review and collaboration solution for easier and faster processes. With this tool, you can speed up your video workflow by three times.

Using the commenting tool, your reviewers can easily leave time-stamped and in-context feedback by clicking anywhere in the video. This eliminates the need for email ping-pong that can grow tiresome and affect your final product. Reviewers can also provide feedback without having to sign up. Further Filestage’s automatic versioning and to-do lists boost your team’s productivity.

Key benefits for video and audio markup

  • Real-time collaboration which gives your team the ability to annotate videos simultaneously and provide instant feedback as you go
  • Extensive annotation features for highlighting, providing detailed feedback with specific time stamps, as well as drawing on video and adding comments
  • Seamless integration with your favorite content creation tools like Slack, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Trello
  • Use the Adobe Premiere Pro or After Effects integration for an even smoother and faster video approval process

The collaborative markup tool for modern teams

Create markers, draw annotations, and leave comments on top of documents, PDFs, videos, designs, and more.

7. Wipster

Wipster Screenshot

Media and post-production professionals use Wipster to achieve faster creative collaborations and reviews across client bases and internal teams. It even offers a free plan for individuals and freelancers.

While this tool has a premium option, users have some complaints about the charges required to add users to an account. Another point of frustration is the email notification system, and comments tend to appear in the wrong place, which can cause ambiguity and negatively impact your project.


Frameio Screenshot is a platform for video review and collaboration that helps creative teams get feedback about their videos, access their media in one place, and present their work in the best light.

Some users have complaints about this platform’s email notification system, which has the tendency to go overboard if multiple users are simultaneously leaving a comment. Other issues are its lack of storage and the steep learning curve it requires, which could annoy some external stakeholders.

9. Screenlight

Screenlight Screenshot

Screenlight aims at removing the pain and stress from untangling client feedback, and it helps customers move their video projects forward.

But its lack of versioning is a big issue since users run the risk of overcomplicating their project. Its UI has also left some users feeling a little lost, and a lack of side-by-side comparisons can make it difficult to get a full picture of the way a video evolves over time.

10. GoProof

GoProof Screenshot

GoProof offers proofing software and a collaboration platform that helps marketing teams review their media work in one place.

The mobile apps and tools offer direct integration with Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Despite the quality of the platform, some users complain that its restrictive pricing and poor mobile website interface make collaborating more difficult. When convenience is a priority, these restrictions can be major drawbacks.

Image and design markup tools

By nailing your images and designs at an early stage, you can lay the groundwork for your project. Here’s a closer look at the image and design markup tools and apps available to you.

11. Filestage

Filestage is a great design review and approval tool which simplifies the process of leaving feedback on images. With this tool, you can implement a streamlined review and approval workflow that can help you increase productivity, save time, and make your whole project more transparent.

Reviewers can add comments and annotations directly on designs, which will structure your communication and avoid misunderstandings during overall design review process. It’s also possible to integrate the tool with some of the most popular design software like InDesign and speed your design approval process.

Key benefits for image and design markup

  • Zoom, rotate, and drag to hone in on every detail of your image or design
  • Integrate Filestage with InDesign and enjoy a more productive design approval process
  • Leave precise feedback by clicking anywhere to create a marker and add a comment
  • Highlight text to give feedback on a specific word or sentence in your design
  • Draw annotations to make feedback on images clearer and more visual
  • Add references and important assets as attachments to comments

The collaborative markup tool for modern teams

Create markers, draw annotations, and leave comments on top of documents, PDFs, videos, designs, and more.

12. Red Pen

Red Pen Screenshot

Red Pen makes it possible for marketing teams and creative professionals to upload designs and receive live, annotated feedback.

The pricing structure can quickly become expensive, depending on how you intend to use the tool. In addition, the Red Pen website hasn’t been updated in a long time, so it can be difficult to get in touch with their support.

13. GoVisually

GoVisually Screenshot

GoVisually helps marketing teams quickly deliver designs faster, without the chaos of email. It aims at simplifying proofing by cutting out frustrating emails that are all-too-common during the review and approval process.

One big complaint that GoVisually users have is that it renders PDFs as images. This drawback makes it impossible to find the browser’s text features, which causes the whole process to be more difficult and time-consuming. Since this platform lacks an archive and retrieval system, it can also become more difficult to find your projects.

14. Dropbox

Dropbox Screenshot

Dropbox is primarily known for its storage services. But in recent years, it has aimed at facilitating creative collaboration by helping teams add comments and provide feedback about files.

Despite some nice features and even a Chrome extension, the lack of in-context feedback can make it difficult for your team to respond to feedback about their images and designs, which can slow the process down because a separate tool is required. Dropbox offers a free trial with limited storage space so that you can explore the new collaboration features yourself.

15. InVision

InVision Screenshot

InVision is a digital platform for product design that aims at helping teams perform their work better and faster.

Some users complain that the price is a barrier and that the free version only permits teams to upload one project. If you have more than one project in the works, you’ll have to pay quite a handsome sum for this platform. So the process of adding clients and external users can also be a little challenging.

Website markup tools

It’s not easy to build a website from scratch, so your designers need to have access to the most accurate feedback possible. Here’s a look at the best website markup tools out there.

16. Filestage

Filestage is the perfect website markup tool for reviewing your prototypes and live websites. Simply import your URL, then you and your stakeholders will be able to interact and comment directly inside Filestage.

Now you can collect feedback from everyone involved in one centralized place, no matter where they’re working from. Plus, you can set due dates for files to remind your reviewers to leave feedback on time.

Key benefits for website markup

  • Give visual feedback on web pages in staging before they go live
  • Use commenting tools to audit live content and tag teammates to make edits
  • Manage web content alongside videos, designs, and other campaign assets

17. Highly

Highly Screenshot

Highly is owned by Twitter. This tool makes it possible to highlight web content and share the most vital information with a range of collaborators. Since the tool works with a wide range of apps and websites, it’s a breeze for users to collate information from a wide variety of sources.

While Highly places a strong emphasis on social sharing, the functionality of the tool doesn’t extend much further. So it’s easy for your friends and other users to see your highlights, but it doesn’t function well as a collaboration tool.

What are digital markup tools?

Markup tools simplify ways for users to add, modify, or remove a comment on a particular piece of collateral without affecting the actual content. In other words, these markup tools make it easier for multidisciplinary teams to collect design feedback and accurately implement that feedback.

Most of these drawing and markup tools are available online, which creates a frictionless experience that makes it very easy for stakeholders around the world to access them, saves time, and reduces complexity.

Some of the more premium tools offer complementary features that help simplify project management. For example, annotations can be linked with tasks, which makes it easier for team members to keep track of individual responsibilities.

Other tools offer checklist functionality. In other words, it’s easy to track which team members have given feedback, which boosts accountability and encourages every team member to engage with the project on a deeper level.

Globally, there is a high demand for agencies and marketing departments to provide these tools. Therefore, there are now more tools to choose from than ever before. Agencies and marketing project managers will find that accessible proofing tools offer a lot of pricing, quality, and functionality.

Why should you use markup tools in digital projects?

Here are the three key reasons that marketing agencies and project managers should use markup tools.

In-context feedback

Every project manager understands how frustrating it can be to receive an unclear, unhelpful comment or drawing. If you write an email in rambling bullet points, it will only confuse your team members, which can lower morale and decrease productivity.

However, quality markup tools significantly clarify feedback. Your team members will be able to see each comment, drawing, and notes in context, which will reduce the amountof time you’ll waste going back and forth between stakeholders.

Unparalleled collaboration

The management of a feedback process can be very stressful and complicated. As a project manager, you could spend a lot of time chasing down stakeholders to get their feedback and drive accountability.

But the right markup tool has multiple advanced features, which will make it easy to get every stakeholder involved. Checklists can be used to keep track of which stakeholders have delivered their feedback, and this effort will ensure that every team member is engaged and works together.

A faster, more accurate approval process

The review and approval process is precarious. If the team misses a comment or piece of feedback, the final product could suffer, so you have to keep a careful eye on every comment.

Markup and approval software for documents can support all your projects and make your feedback and approval process much more accurate, which will empower you to protect yourself and your team members.

What are 5 markup techniques? 

Before you choose the right markup tool and proofing features, it is advisable to take a step back and take a look at what annotations actually entail. Therefore, we are going to introduce you to the five most common techniques and methods for annotations. 


Highlighting or underlining a text is an underestimated feature every good markup tool should include. Highlighting text parts makes it much easier for your colleagues to find and implement your remarks.

Add Comments 

Comments are the core of every markup process. Reviewers can leave feedback, add ideas or just ask questions to the content creator. Comments can be supported with highlights so that the content team knows exactly where the comment refers to.

Descriptive outline 

A descriptive outline can help readers and reviewers understand the train of thought of the content creators. The descriptive outline shows how your content is organized and can include a summary, introduction of ideas, further explanations, or sources.

Use of abbreviations 

Experienced content creators and reviewers use abbreviations of commonly used expressions inside their comments. For instance, ‘EX’ can be used if reviewers need an example while an arrow ‘→’ shows a connection. The longer the teams work together, the more abbreviations will be used to further shorten the review and approval process.   

Pictures and symbols 

Adding a drawing, a symbol or an attachment makes your comment and annotation even clearer. Infographics, specific examples, or other supporting material gives your comment more weight and can help you support your standpoint. 

How do you use markup tools? 

Now that you know the most valuable markup tools in combination with the best techniques, we are going to show you how you can set up your markup process. 

1. Share your file with reviewers

When the content team has finished their first draft, they are going to upload it to the markup software. Now the file can be easily shared with all reviewers. 

Reviewers are usually previously added to the review step so that they get automatically notified when a new file was uploaded. Another option is to share the review link via chat. 

2. Receive feedback

Now reviewers can add annotations, markups, and comments directly on the file. This makes it easier for the content team to understand what needs to be changed at which part.

3. Discuss annotations 

Sometimes, comments and annotations need further clarification, or suggested changes need to be discussed because various reviewers have different opinions. In this case, they can use the comment section to find a solution. 

4. Revise and upload the new version 

After all feedback is clear, the content creator can implement all changes. Depending on the comments, content creators might take hours up to several days. After the revision is finished, the new version will be uploaded and shared with the same reviewer group. 

5. Get final approval 

Now reviewers can compare the old and new versions side by side and leave more feedback. In case they are happy with the revised version they can approve it with just one click. An advanced markup tool offers approval time stamps, which contributes to the accountability of each reviewer.  


As you have seen, markup software entail much more features than just comments or sticky notes. Mastering the review process with the support of advanced software solutions enables your team to work more efficiently and make the most of all your projects.