Accessing annotation command "Insert quote" via keyboard

DTbeta 3.3 now adds - for PDF files - the welcome option of inserting a quote (quoted text + backlink to the page) in Annotations found in the Annotations & Reminder inspector pane. You select text and then move the mouse to the right and select Insert Quote from the dropdown menu. I find this useful as I can collect both the text and backlinks to the source in one go.

Even more efficient from my perspective would be to have a way to make this transfer to annotations without having to leave the PDF file display i.e. selecting text and then using a keyboard shortcut (or equivalent menu item which can be assigned a short cut or use Keyboard Maestro).

Ideally I could scroll through the PDF file marking material of interest and send these to the Annotations without leaving the PDF display (and moving my mouse to the right and back) and then revisit the annotations/text extracted later on.


You can already define a shortcut via System Preferences > Keyboard but we could also add a default shortcut. Any suggestions?

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I did not realise that the command was accessible via the System Preferences (usually expected this only for Menu items for some reason).

A default short cut is difficult given the many different mappings already taken up. Logically looking at the other insert menu elements it should be Command + Shift + Q (with Q for quote but this shuts down the app in my case). For the moment I’ve mapped it to
Cntl + Alt + Q

I did notice that a new line is produced between the quoted text and the page reference but not after the page reference. This means that if you collect many quoted text passages you get something like this:

which looks messy. It would be easier to read and use further if there was a new line after the page reference e.g.

It would be easier to read and use

I think you mean could. :slight_smile:

Without praragraph breaks, it’s not as easy to determine what page reference belongs to what quote.

With paragraph breaks between quotes, it could be clearer. However, some people would prefer the page reference was under the quoted text.

With the page on the same line, there is no question as to the connection between the page reference and the quotation. The page reference could also be moved to the end of the line.

“could is correct”.

Right now the page reference I get is below the quoted text (not at the end). The next quote starts on the same line as the page reference of the previous quoted text so the worst of both worlds for clarity.

The situation right now
pageref1 text2
pageref2 text3

Better would be either
text1 pageref1
text2 pageref2
text3 pageref3

I’d personally like to see a double Return added after the quote, like so…


That appeals to me aesthetically and segregates the quotes visually.


Agreed - that is probably the clearest approach and ensures that even long passages of quoted text will be well identified and associated with a back reference. Also further processing of the text elements, e.g. within DT or my favourite Tinderbox, is easier as you can split the annotations file based on “\n\n” into single chunks of text.

I could imagine future versions of DT supporting a user template for quoted text with placeholders such as %backref%, %textref%, %Date% and similar so that a user can specify a boilerplate for his/her annotation. For instance:

Quote: %textref%
Page: %backref%
Date of annotation: %Date%

leading to something like

Quote: The spatial scale dependence of water vapor variability inferred from observations from a very tall tower
Page: Page 1
Data of annotation: 12 Jun 2019

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Such shortcuts are IMHO dangerous because the wrong modifiers can perform completely different actions, e.g. quit, log out or lock the screen. Ctrl-Cmd-U (Insert Quote) and Ctrl-Cmd-V (Insert Back Link) seem to be unused so far.

Thanks for the tip - I’ll remap immediately to Ctrl-Cmd-U (Insert Quote) !

This will be also the default in beta 4.


And beta 4 will do this.


The annotations feature is very useful. The next step to making DT suitable for a typical research-writing workflow is to allow users to tag the snippets in the annotations files from a user-created drop down tag menu and then add a command that allows the user to aggregate all snippets with a given tag in a new file with that tag name. The aggregate file would show the tag name, and then list the snippets with the back link to the original source.

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The request is noted but you are not describing some simple extension of the Annotation file. In fact, this is the first time I’ve heard of this idea.

“You can already define a shortcut via System Preferences > Keyboard but we could also add a default shortcut”

I too only thought you could map menu items via the System Preference -> Keyboard. How did you map the contextualized command in the Reminders and Annotations Inspector?


Just like for menu items but this supports only popups which are currently visible (e.g. the right inspector has to be selected). For contextual menus it’s impossible.

What I described is the core feature of all qualitative analysis software (Atlas, NVivo, QMAX, etc.). These packages are very expensive and are not really set up for webpage and pdf document analysis (they specialize in the analysis of interview transcripts). They also have a lot of bells and whistles (like word frequency mapping and concept mapping) that most people don’t need. But the core feature - tagging excerpts with labels and then allowing the user to aggregate all the excerpts linked to a given label into one rtf document with back links for each excerpt to the source - would be a very useful extension of DT for many researchers/writers.

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This Annotation Pane (Annotation with Links, Notes, Tags v3)
and perhaps this Updated Stack script V1.0: Create stack of multiple cards/snippets for each document with backlink and Wiki-group link, cited text or blank note, comment, tagging by ordinary tag and group tag

And maybe this for consolidation of bits pTags V1.2 (Updated Version) , the pivot table of tags with refresh function

Not trying to say that these scripts as exactly what u are referring, but to show you that DT3 can do many things, but specific development for specific purpose is a function of user’s effort.

Another possibility is for DT to consider adding an extented version of “Summarize Highlights”. Instead of extracting all the highlights into one document, DT can offer an altered version to create an rtf file for each piece of highlighted text for a selection of literature (many rtf files, each with one piece of highlighted text and backlink with page info). User can save a lot of time in preparing the bits and can focus on tagging right away.