Add PDF or Web Archive sometimes results in a Bookmark

3yrs ago someone reported a similar behaviour: Add PDF (One Page) results in a Bookmark (Web location)?

Details I can add:

  • I’m using Safari
  • A 2nd attempt to clip always creates the PDF or Webarchive as desired
  • Rebooting makes no difference
  • It’s not specific to a URL - I’ve seen it dozens of times

It happens so often that I assume it will happen and double check after each clipping

MacOS: 13.4.1
DevonThink 3.9.2

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Clipping also depends on having a good network and also the responsiveness of the remote server.

Ok. Two things.

  • it happens frequently enough on my home network with a reliable connection. More important the second attempt always works only a minute later
  • why make the fallback condition to create a bookmark? Why not show an error?


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why make the fallback condition to create a bookmark?

DEVONthink has done this for years and the point is to capture something in the event of an error.

Why not show an error?

  1. People generally don’t want to see error dialogs popping up.
  2. People either aren’t aware of – or worse, ignore – the Log window and toolbar button.
  3. Many people who use the Log window don’t want anything but the most critical issues reported.

One or more example URLs would be great nonetheless plus a screenshot of the used clipping settings.

This one had problems: What You Don’t Know About Making Decisions

CleanShot 2023-07-13 at 17.24.02

I usually preview before I save to make sure that clutter free isn’t killing the good stuff. (Hard problem I understand).

@BLUEFROG my challenge with the current model, I can’t just trust that DT will work. So I clip, open DT and watch. If it fails, I don’t want a bookmark. I want a clear message somewhere (warning dialog). Attempt to clip: page X, failed with a server timeout.

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I successfully clipped this page using the same settings and Safari. For the test I just opened the Sorter’s menu extra, chose the Clip to DEVONthink tab, clicked Safari and changed the settings.

Using the Safari extension instead worked also as expected. Does it work after rebooting?

A smart rule using the condition Kind is Bookmark and the event On Clipping could display such an alert.

FYI @mlevison worked here too clipping to both PDF Paginated and to Markdown. On the first try in Preview I had to click. on the dialog box about the subscription to HBR which I (no longer) have, but after that it worked.

I can’t explain why different, but just mentioning it. macOS 13.4.1 with Safari 16.5.1 and DEVONthink 3.9.2, in case this the difference.

P.S. Very interesting article!

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ugh. I hate this. welcome, please join me, screaming into the void.

I don’t have the capacity to remember to check every single time I clip to PDF, it’s inane. Will I get a PDF or a bookmark? Who knows? It’s a complete mystery. Until you actually go and look inside the database, it is Schrödinger’s PDF.

As Bluefrog said, "DEVONthink has done this for years ".

Indeed, unfortunately, DEVONthink has done this years, and apparently will continue to do so for eternity. I gave up & use PrintFriendly browser extension instead, works fine with both Safari & Arc. It’s marginally slower, but at least you can see what you’re capturing and that it is, actually, truly a PDF

The previous post you linked to started in October 2000, and was added to in January 2021, again in February 20, I piped up in August 2021, & again in October 2021. After a lull, another addition in April 2023. As stated in there, apparently “it’s not a bug”.

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I can always clip the article on the second try. In the most recent case the computer had just rebooted before I had the problem. The problem happens with 1/3 → 1/2 of the items I clip from webpage to PDF.

Based on the comments - Jim made a above why not lengthen the timeout for the page retrieval to 2-3secs. Slow and reliable is fine by me. In addition why add an option in the dialog box, alert on fail?

I do see how to set an alert if bookmark’s are created. I will set this up, however it feels like a kludge.

@BLUEFROG Since I don’t want a bookmark, the key annoyance here is that I can’t trust DT to do the right thing. So when I clip, I need to bring DT into view, reorg windows, watch the clipping action, hide DT, reorg windows. So the act of clipping an item goes from 10-20 secs to at least a minute.

How exactly do you clip? By clicking the browser extension first, by sharing or simply by opening the Sorter and choosing Safari?

Always from the browser extension.

I never think to use the bar for anything. (It’s not DT. I just don’t remember the bar exists).

Just for fun - I clipped this to PDF: The Motherboard Guide to Not Getting Hacked a minute ago. The first time I got a bookmark. The second time I got a PDF as intended. (No reboot in between).

Those are both click-baity sites full of JavaScript. I’m surprised you’d get anything at all :stuck_out_tongue:

PS: I am seeing very long load times when previewing the capture on both pages.

Perhaps. However, clipping needs to work when it is: “click-baity sites full of JavaScript.”

Again, I have no problem if the fallback is to alert me - we failed to clip. I have a problem with silent failure.

It’s possible that the background clipping task crashed due to WebKit issues (the most common reason for bookmarks), therefore please choose Help > Report Bug while pressing the Alt modifier key and send the result to cgrunenberg - at - - thanks!

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Not possible to do reliably. As you have already noticed.

For one simple reason: No one can know when and if the page has finally loaded everything. With JavaScript, the page can simply decide to load content (or ads or movies or whatever) at any time it pleases. It can even load content and whatnot, display it for 30 seconds and then redirect the browser to another URL. Or it can decide to modify itself by removing elements or even script code. Or modify script code … Endless possibilities.

At times when web documents can be generated partially or even completely by asynchronous processing (aka “JavaScript”), there is no guarantee that a page will ever be in a static state which can be clipped to anything else but a bookmark, aka “URL”.

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Two quick things:

  • I’m not expecting DT to be perfect in these cases, I’m expecting an alert not a bookmark on failure. I understand the challenges of JavaScript.
  • if the JavaScript really were the problem, why does the second attempt to clip always succeed?


Here is an idea:

As @chrillek was suggesting, all up to the web site.

I respectfully suggest that this is worth a notification or an error dialog. I understand that the failure is outside DT’s control (though if waiting a little longer would help, I’d certainly support that), but it’s still a failure, and a rather common one.

The suggestion to make a smart rule for this is great, thank you. I added “On convert” as a condition, because I’m mostly capturing PDFs and Markdown from within DT.

All that said, my recent attempts to reproduce this issue all failed. If the process has somehow been improved in 3.9.2, thank you! It’s an amazingly useful feature.

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