PDF Note Automator

Created on Saturday, May 12, 2007. I last modified it on Friday, August 14, 2020.
Filed under Software, Productivity.

Use one keypress in Adobe Reader to create and pre-fill ’Note’ annotations with the highlighted text, making it possible to extract your highlights from exported FDF data files.

PDF Note Automator is discontinued.

The lack of standardisation for the FDF format has made this software really difficult to maintain.

Instead, I now use Zotero together with the ZotFile plugin. ZotFile can pull highlighted text directly from a PDF (no save-to-FDF step needed) and save it into notes that live with the parent item in Zotero. This makes it way better than PDF Note Automator ever was, so go use that instead!

When you try to export highlights as a .FDF from a PDF document, what gets exported is the position of the highlights within the document and not the text that’s been highlighted. Lame!

PDF Note Automator is a free Windows program for Adobe Reader that gets around this problem. It creates a note around your selected block of text and fills the note with the very text that’s just been highlighted, all with one keystroke.

Once you’ve got a bunch of annotations you can export them all into a .FDF, and then extract your text from it with my companion program FDF Text Extractor.


PDF Note Automator only works with Adobe Reader on Windows.


  1. Run PDF Note Automator.exe and set your preferred hotkey combination.
  2. In Adobe Reader, select a block of text.
  3. Press the hotkey you assigned. The block will automatically be highlighted and populated with the selected text.
  4. When you are ready to export your annotations go to the Comment sidebar in Adobe Reader, open the Options dropdown (beside the Find box) and select Export All To Data File.

Let me download it!

Download PDF Note Automator (Windows).


v1 (29 Nov 2013)

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© Desi Quintans, 2002 – 2022.