7 Web & Desktop Annotation Tools For Teachers

Annotation Tools For Teachers

Online presentations have become common in most professional settings. From engineering to catering, people are now leveraging the internet to provide lessons to learners or to better explain a concept to a group of people.

Whether presenting a PowerPoint slide, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, webpage, or even a simple image or pdf, being able to highlight or even zoom into any particular section of your page is very necessary especially if you’re teaching a group of learners or colleagues.

Annotations are key especially for teachers as it enables learners to easily identify the content we’re referring to when presenting.

Having the capability to add a text, highlight a piece of content or even write and draw while presenting can have a huge impact on whether or not learners understand the subject matter.

With the advancements in technology, annotation is now easy to do and some popular applications like PowerPoint and Zoom now come with an annotation feature fully in-built.

Unfortunately, most applications on the market don’t come with this feature in-built including webpages.

However, this is easy to do with the help of third-party applications on the market, both free and premium.

Using these applications, you’ll be able to draw, write, highlight directly on most desktop applications and webpages during presentations.

We’ve put together a list of some very annotation tools on the market.

It should be noted that the products listed here are meant for real-time desktop apps, pdfs, webpages annotations during presentations.

This means they help instructors to annotate real-time during presentations as opposed to taking screenshots and of these pages to edit.

Also don’t miss out on these other posts:

All-purpose annotation tools for teachers


ZoomIt – Best open-source annotation tool for teachers

Product Description

ZoomIt is a screen zoom and annotation tool for technical presentations that include application demonstrations.

ZoomIt runs unobtrusively in the tray and activates with customizable hotkeys to zoom in on an area of the screen, move around while zoomed, and draw on the zoomed image.

Our Impression

ZoomIt is a straightforward application that enables you to draw, erase, zoom, customize colors, and save screenshots of your annotations.

Want to underline, circle a specific portion of your presentation, or even draw an array pointing to an object during presentations, ZoomIt has you covered.

ZoomIt also provides shortcuts to create simple shapes like squares or rectangles, circles, arrows, and lines.

Although ZoomIt is a great application, it has a bit of a learning curve as the software doesn’t come with an easy-to-use bar/tray like some annotation applications, but instead relies on shortcut keys.

Fortunately, though these keys can be customized to your desired shortcuts for the purpose especially if you intend to use some basic commands only.

But if you’d like to use this great application, you should definitely be prepared to memorize some shortcut commands if you intend to maximize the potential of ZoomIt for your presentations.

OpenBoard – Best whiteboard & annotation tool for teachers

Product Description

OpenBoard is an open-source cross-platform teaching software for interactive whiteboard designed primarily for use in schools and universities.

It can be used both with interactive whiteboards or in a dual-screen setup with a pen-tablet display and a beamer.

Our Impression

OpenBoard comes with a great interactive whiteboard feature with multiple board design options available for use.

It is open-source which means it’s completely free to leverage the power of this application for your lessons.

OpenBoard is available for Windows, macOS operating systems, and some Linux distributions including Ubuntu, making it perfect for your next whiteboard presentation.

Although OpenBoard is a powerful whiteboard tool, its annotation features are on par with some of the best annotation tools on the market.

You can either open a document or webpage directly in the OpenBoard whiteboard or simply use the bar/tray/menu to help you annotate over any page or application.

Easily draw, erase, highlight over any application running on your desktop, and even screenshot your annotations during presentations with this useful application.

Whether you want a powerful whiteboard for your presentation or you simply want to annotate during presentations, OpenBoard has you covered.

The best part of the application is the interactive features in the application which enables users to create different forms of OpenBoard quizzes, memory, and other educational games, and other interactive features.

Additionally, you can screenshot or select parts of your annotation and save them directly or even import them into your OpenBoard whiteboard project.

If you need an onscreen keyboard for your presentation, OpenBoard annotation bar/tray/menu has you covered. The application is totally free and available for anyone to try out the amazing features.

Unfortunately, my onscreen keyboard didn’t seem to be working well but all other features functioned perfectly.

Epicpen – Best annotation tool for teachers

Product Description

Epicpen is an easy-to-use yet powerful desktop annotation tool for Windows.

You can draw, write, and highlight directly over most Windows desktop applications, including presentation software, webpages, videos, creative studios, and even games.

Epicpen enables users to draw or write on their screens without interacting with the software in the background. This means users can annotate over almost anything!

It has a simple interface with a clean visual style and no confusing buttons or options.

Epicpen fully supports custom hotkeys that can be used in conjunction with standard software hotkeys.

It is easy to use and has a lightweight installer with no hidden junk, perfect for businesses and academic computers.

Once you’ve made an edit to the screen you can easily return to your desktop.

It has full pen pressure support for brush size when used with drawing tablets and other pressure input devices.

Epicpen is the ultimate companion for touch-enabled devices including interactive whiteboards and Windows tablets.

Our Impressions

With support for shortcut keys and a bar/tray/menu, you get the best of both worlds with Epicpen.

The Windows version comes with great functionalities including highlighting, draw, text, and screenshotting.

A version for macOS is now available but currently lacks some additional features available in the Windows version.

Annotating PDFs, web pages, images, videos is easy with this powerful annotation tool.

A whiteboard feature is also available to enable users to provide users a clean interface to create their illustrations during presentations.

Create simple shapes like circles, lines, and squares by selecting the tool from the bar/tray/menu.

There’s a free and a premium plan for the application. The free version comes with the pen, eraser, highlighter, and screenshot tool but the premium/pro version comes with features like shapes (lines, squares, circles, arrows), text, and whiteboard.

Annotation Extension For Chrome

FeaturesAnnotateWeb Paint

Annotate – Best Google Chrome extension for annotations

Product Description

Freely annotate web pages, PDF documents, and Google Slides content when presenting. Keep your audience engaged with live annotations during your remote learning and Google Meet sessions.

The plugin works seamlessly with your Annotate.net instructor account to enable annotations over web pages and screen sharing during LiveStreams.

When installed on classroom devices, you can empower students to take an active role in their learning by giving them the ability to annotate web pages and share their screens using the “Pass Control” feature.

Teachers, students, and Google Meet users shall be able to:

  • Freely annotate web pages, PDFs, and Google Slides using the pen and highlighter tools
  • Annotate PDFs on their Google Drive or on the web by selecting “Open with Annotate”.
  • Annotate Google Slides in both edit and present modes. Google slides annotations are tracked and saved for every slide.
  • Save annotations directly into their Annotate web account and share with others
  • Capture screenshots of web pages with annotations and add them directly into an Annotate notebook.
  • Use the laser pointer tool to point out details and draw attention.

Our Impression

Annotate is a fully-featured application, perfect to get the job done. It provides you a bar/tray/menu on your web pages that makes tools easy to access.

Not only can you use this application for web pages, but you can also download the mirroring application to use for desktop applications as well as interactive whiteboard displays.

It is free to use but also comes with a very affordable premium version. It is worth noting that pricing is categorized into Educational and Non Educational licenses.

Getting an educational license affords you more free features but also requires users to log in with their educational institution-issued email.

The Google Chrome extension is easy to use by access the bar/tray/menu that pops up on your web page. This makes it perfect for instructors who present mostly through browser-based applications like Google slides, web pages, online pdfs, images, or even online videos.

Web Paint – Overall Best Web Annotation Tool

Product Description

Web Paint provides the following easy to use drawing tools that let you draw shapes, lines, and add text to live web pages, and take screenshots (touch screen supported):

Tools include pencil, eyedropper, text, line arrows, quadratic curve, Bezier curve, polygon, ellipse, paint bucket, eraser, color pick, transparency sliders, and many more.

Our Impression

This extension easily takes it as our overall pick for the best annotation extension for Google Chrome.

It is easy to use and comes with everything you’d need to easily write, draw, color, or even select a color.

You get a pretty sweet eyedrop picker that can help you easily pick any color on your screen and identify the hex or RGB color code.

Create lines, arrows Bezier curves, and other shapes easily with this extension. The best part, you can use both the bar/tray/menu or set up your own custom shortcut keys for each command.

It is clearly my favorite web annotation as it is feature-packed, easy to use right after installing the extension on Chrome and is completely free.

The Bottom Line

Annotation is essential especially if you’re an online instructor. It has become necessary to leverage technology to make our work as teachers easier.

There are multiple tools on the market both free and paid for geared towards making the job of teachers easier.

Check out a few of these tools in our article on some of the best tools for teachers. Although, when it comes to annotation tools, these are some of the best choices available on the market.

It is worth noting that the annotation tools mentioned in this article do not include tools that take screenshots and then provide tools for editing.

The annotation tools mentioned in this article are meant for real-time annotations during online presentations.

Why can’t I save annotations using the Annotate addon?

To save annotations, a notebook needs to be created and opened in your Annotate dashboard. Simply click the “plus” sign at the bottom-right corner of your dashboard to create a notebook. Open it and you’ll be able to save your annotation on your required page inside that notebook.

Akshay Vikhe

I am an aspiring Data Scientist with a huge interest in technology. I like to review courses that are genuine and add real value to student’s careers. Read my story

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