PDFZen: Upload, annotate, and share documents online without registration

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 7.06.50 PM

There are a number of places to upload and share PDF, Word, and other documents online. A new site that I came upon today uses HTML5 instead of Flash making it more mobile friendly. PDFZen allows users to upload documents and then comment, add text, highlight, and draw on them and then share it with others who can do the same. All of this is done for free and without registration. Here is how it works:


  1. Go to PDFZen and click on ‘Open File’.
  2. Drag a document from your computer on the screen or click on ‘Select a File’ and select a document from your computer.
  3. Once your document has loaded, you will see a series of tools along the top of the page. They include a type tool, a comment tool, and a drawing pencil. Click on any of the tools and add your annotations to the document. You can even resize the annotation and move it around afterward.
  4. Once you are done making your annotations, click on the ‘Download’ button in the top-right corner to download to your computer. If you don’t sign in. If you create a free account, you can store your document on their server. You can share the URL with others.

I tried this out on a number of browsers and devices and had luck with most of them. There were a few small problems (such as the Uploading indicator), but it was pretty slick with my iPad, Mac, and even Windows 8 (not all browsers, though). I am not sure if there is a file limitation since I haven’t tried to upload anything really large as of yet, but it worked with everything I threw at it and the rendition of the viewer in the browser was excellent.

This is a great way for students to share documents with one another and it enables them provide peer feedback as well as collaborate on projects. Since it is mobile friendly, students can read and make annotations and comments wherever they are and on the devices that they are most comfortable using. I can see this being used for self-access learning materials where students can interact with the material instead of just using receptive skills.

What about you? How would you use this in your classroom. I always appreciate comments and suggestions. You can add your comments here or you can send me a Tweet at @nathanghall. Thank you!


4 thoughts on “PDFZen: Upload, annotate, and share documents online without registration

  1. Sounds cool, but I tried two different .docx files (it is one of the types it suggests uploading) and waited 3 minutes on each: said “Loading…” and had broken image icon both times. Next, tried a PDF: same problem. Maybe I’ll try again another day.

  2. Pingback: “Piecing it together”: Reading and sharing in groups | Nathan Hall

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