SMART Tutorial #1: Utilizing Existing Documents

SMART Tutorials

SMART Tutorial #1: Utilizing Existing Documents

After learning the fundamentals of the SMART Notebook software, the next essential step is to generate teaching materials. But, what if you already have materials like MS Word Documents, PDF files, and Images for example?

In this case, the transparent background tool can be your best friend as it allows you to annotate materials without altering the original files or having to transfer any files into the SMART Notebook application. This is how it is done:


Step 1

Let’s say that today you are teaching the Periodic Table of the Elements and you already have a PDF that illustrates what you need. Just go ahead and open the PDF file using your preferred PDF reader. In my case, this is how my PDF looks like.

Step 2

  In the SMART Notebook application create an empty page by clicking on the green plus button located on left side of the toolbar.

Step 3

Go to the View menu and choose Transparent Background.

Warning! You will see the SMART software disappear for a moment. I promise that is completely normal. Nothing is broken, you are doing fine.

the SMART Notebook software never disappeared. It is still on top of the Periodic Table’s PDF. However, because the background of the SMART Notebook software was set to transparent, we can now see through, and therefore, the PDF behind the SMART software has been revealed. It is the same exact principle as when using an overhead projector and transparencies. We can have multiple transparencies stuck on top of another, but we can still see through simply because of the “transparency effect.”


Step 4

Click the three dotted lines located on the floating toolbar and then choose “Pen.” Select any color pen you like, and that’s it! Now you should be able to annotate on top of your PDF file (see image below).


Step 5

If you would like to return to normal view mode in the SMART software, click the “Exit Transparent Background” icon or the “X” icon on the top right corner of the floating toolbar.

If for some reason you cannot see the transparent background tool on any of your toolbars you might want to check our tutorials on customizing the toolbar next week.

Just as a reminder, whenever you are using the transparent background tool all the annotation actions are taking place within the SMART Notebook software, and do not affect the original document(s). In case you would like to save the PDF including the newly added annotations look for our tutorial on the screen capture tool- which will also be featured on our blog soon.


If you found this tutorial useful or you have ideas on how we can improve, please let us know by sending an Email to We are always looking forward to discussing any topics related to classroom technology.


Ioannis Andriotis

Ioannis Andriotis is as a design engineer and trainer of instructional technology for Pro Presenters. He has taught elementary music classes as well as music theory & technology at the college level. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Composition with emphasis in Music Technology at the University of Oklahoma, USA.