PDF Annotation Tool - How to use OrbitNote


OrbitNote is a PDF reader and editor software from Texhelp which allows instructors and students to improve interaction with PDF through communication and collaboration. OrbitNote can improve interaction with PDF by making your PDF documents accessible and ADA-compliant, ensuring all users have access to content regardless of perceived disabilities. Some benefits include having questions read aloud, using highlighters on text, and collaborating effectively. With OrbitNote, learners can make digital documents accessible and actionable while demonstrating and giving feedback in multiple formats.

OrbitNote provides expanded capability with PDFs. Users of Read&Write desktop applications on both Mac and PC can still use the PDF button on the toolbar to open a PDF and get basic read aloud functionality. However, to access the full feature set for interacting and engaging with PDFs, please go to the OrbitNote website and sign in with your Virginia Tech Google account.

See this video for a brief introduction to OrbitNote



Using OrbitNote to Support Learning

OrbitNote provides options for learners to demonstrate their understanding in the learning process. Some of the options for learners include:

  • Typing or drawing their thoughts.
    • Add notes on the page while reading PDF documents.
    • Highlight key points in the reading.
  • Access to an annotation feature. OrbitNote allows learners to:
    • Add text or audio feedback to the PDF documents.
    • Access a platform for easily accessible and actionable feedback, which is critical in engaging students.
    • Save annotations with OrbitNote and share them with others.

OrbitNote is a web app. For certain features, only a lightweight extension is needed. It works across multiple browsers and iPad. Currently, OrbitNote works with Google Classroom, Schoology, and the Google Assignments LTI in Canvas.

Top of page

OrbitNote Features

OrbitNote makes PDFs accessible and actionable. Learners can use OrbitNote to access its useful tools, such as text to speech, highlighting, adding notes, and vocabulary support with the PDF. Specifically, Orbitnote can assist you with your learning using PDFs:

  • Text to Speech: Reads words, passages, or whole documents aloud with easy-to-follow dual color highlighting.
  • Text: Lets you type text on top of the PDF
  • Pushpin: Ideal for making notes or adding instructions or other helpful hints to a PDF assignment. The Pushpin in OrbitNote allows you to leave feedback, helpful hints and tips, and instructions for your students. This keeps communication and feedback in a PDF clean and simple.
  • Freehand Drawing: To scribble and draw on your PDF to complete assignments or highlight important information.
  • Shapes Drawing: Allows you to draw squares, circles and lines on your PDF. Use the additional options provided to customize the line color, fill color and border line thickness. Once you create an annotation, click on it to see options to delete, save or reposition.
  • Text and Voice comments: For collaboration, showing understanding and giving feedback
  • Highlighters: Collect highlights from text in documents or the web for summarizing research and to create bibliographies.
  • Screenshot reader: Converts inaccessible text to accessible text through OCR (ocular character recognition). Click on the screenshot reader icon and then drag your mouse to draw a rectangle around any inaccessible text to OCR it on demand.
  • Translator: Translator allows single words to be translated into a wide selection of languages. Language can be selected in the Options menu.
  • Screen Masking: Tints your screen and provides a reading light that follows your cursor, to help you focus on the text.
  • Typewriter Annotation: Allows you to type text directly on your PDF. Click on the icon and then click where you would like to place your annotation. Use the additional options to change font size or color, save, delete, reposition or play back your annotation
  • Comments: Allows you to comment directly in your PDF. Select some text where you’d like to make a comment, and click the Comment icon. Prediction, Talk & Type, and Voice notes are available here. Use the play button to hear your comment read aloud.

Premium features, such as Scan Text, adding images, splitting and merging PDFs, and digital signatures are not available at this time.

Top of page

Getting Started with OrbitNote

Get started using OrbitNote by logging into OrbitNote or installing the Chrome Browser extension. Review the online tutorial for a brief overview of the tool's features. 

Logging into OrbitNote

  1. Go to the OrbitNote website.
  2. Click Sign in with Google.
    Image of the above instructions
  3. Enter your Virginia Tech email address and click Next.
    Image of the above instructions
  4. Enter your Virginia Tech PID and PID passphrase and click Login. Complete the 2-factor authentication if required.

Installing the OrbitNote Chrome Browser Extension

  1. In the Google Chrome browser, access the Chrome Browser extension in the Chrome Web Store.
  2. Click Add to Chrome.
    Image of the above instructions
  3. In the new window, click Add extension to install the extension on your browser.
    Image of the above instructions
  4. You can pin the OrbitNote extension to your toolbar by clicking on the puzzle icon and then clicking the pin icon.
    Image of the above instructions

Opening PDFs with OrbitNote

  1. Open the PDF with OrbitNote. There are three ways to do this.
    1. Go to the OrbitNote dashboard. Use the drag and drop feature or choose file on the dashboard to open a PDF.
    2. Go to the OrbitNote dashboard. Click Open PDF from Google Drive to pull up your Google Drive files. Locate and click on the PDF.
    3. Navigate to the PDF in Google Drive or share drive and right-click on the PDF. Then hover over Open with and click on OrbitNote.
  2. Once you open a PDF, OrbitNote automatically scans the PDF to check if it is readable.
  3. Your PDF is now ready to go. You can now use OrbitNote’s tools, like text to speech, highlighters, annotation tools and more. See videos under Resources for tutorials.

See Getting Started With OrbitNote for the following topics:

  • How to open up a PDF in Google Drive
  • How to open PDFs in Microsoft OneDrive
  • How to open a local PDF in OrbitNote
  • Additional Functionality

Top of page

Getting Help



Training & Support

Recommended training:

Support options:

Top of page