Adding Comment (Annotation to Document)

There seems to be no way to annotate a document in Devonthink. I have a Comments column that is empty and could be useful but there is literally no way to add my comments. Is there?

Please be specific in your inquiries. There is no singular document in DEVONthink.

  • PDFs can be annotated. (See Help > Documentation > Documents > PDFs).

  • Any file can have an Annotation file associated with it (see Tools > Inspectors > Annotations & Reminders).

  • Comments (see Tools > Inspectors > Document > Properties - related only to RTF or PDF files and only editable for RTF) are not the same thing as Finder Comments (see Tools > Inspectors > Annotations & Reminders).

Thanks for the quick response – these are eml files. Unfortunately, my bar does not have the “Tools>Inspectors>Annotations”

It appears you are running DEVONthink 2.x.

The current version of DEVONthink is 3.0.4 and is no mere “update” but a core rewrite and an even more powerful new application.
We do not suggest staying with the 2.x line fo an extended period of time. You can select ​DEVONthink (Pro Office) > Purchase ​to open our online store with upgrade options specific to your license.

That being said, you can add a Spotlight Comments column in the list view of DEVONthink 2.x. And an Annotation file can be created with Data > New from Template > Annotation.

Thanks. Devon 3 allows me to annotate?

Yes, as noted in my previous comments.

Hey @chustle13, I totally understood what you meant. I too found it unintuitive. I ended up here because I couldn’t find it, it didn’t show up in the inspector, didn’t show up in the secondary menu, and so I googled it.

In DT3 it’s under Tools > Annotate. Select ‘text’ and you can then make a text box on the PDF which then shows up on the inspector when you have highlights and annotations selected.

However, it is a pain. Once you’ve selected Text Box, it is now persistent. When you click anywhere else, it makes a new box. I had a couple empty text boxes that I had to go delete in the inspector. Worse, when I clicked on a highlight that I had made, it quickly changed the highlight to a much wider box and highlighted the entire field. CTL Z did not undo this at all.

Commenting on highlights is a useful part, but the PDF editor in DT3 is clunky at best.

I found that using turning on editing tools (the icon of pencils to the right) and then selecting the T that is in a box on the far left, allows you to select text. But highlighting it is more clicks. I recommend using PopClip and install the ‘highlight text’ add-on. See screenshot and you’ll see the blue icons in the bar just above the preview window.

To add a comment to said highlight, go back to the highlight and right-click on the highlight and select ‘Add Note’. Then you can make a note about this highlight, which shows up as both highlight and note in the inspector.

DT used to allow you to use a third-party PDF app in the past. I used to be a user of PDFpen, but man oh man is PDF Expert a great app all the way around. Really wish I could use their superior PDF app. Not sure if I can do so on iPad or not.

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I found this video of someone working on her dissertation. She shows yet another workflow for annotations within PDFs. I found it very helpful.


When I want to annotate a PDF, I locate it in DEVONthink, right-click and select “Open with Preview” to read, and make my annotations there (there is an option in the DT settings to open in an external app on double-click as well). When I am done, I save and close.

This works well for me with PDFs that I have in the database, as well as my journal articles that are stored in Zotero and simply indexed in DEVONthink. I can see the annotations whether I opened the PDF from Zotero or DT.

I use PopClip and had overlooked the highlight plugin–just added it. Thanks!

Thank you! That’s helpful. You say there’s an option in DT settings to open in external app? I cannot find it in DT3 anywhere. I used this all the time in DT2.

But I’m not sure I’m staying with DT, as I’m finding out I absolutely hate trying to annotate and comment on PDFs in the iOS app. Trying to add a note to a highlight crashes it. And I’m not sure comments are searchable in iOS (they aren’t in Papers 3 for iPad either, and it’s a much better PDF environment).

Sorry… on a tangent rant. I’m still looking for something that fits me.

I haven’t tried DTTG yet–since I’m almost always in my home office on my Mac, or my work office on Windows. Still working out annotations when on Windows…

FWIW, I just downloaded PaperShip for iOS–it allows you to interact with your Zotero database from iOS (and works even with WedDav attachment syncing). I haven’t shelled out for the annotation in-app purchase yet, but if it allows you to annotate in place (which seems likely since the point is to work with your existing database), then it would work for my workflow above.