Adding notes (not annotations) to PDF files in DT

Continuing the discussion from My new favorite use for workspaces - not rocket science, just convenient:

I like this, thank you. What I want to do is to be able to open a pdf document in DT and also display a blank DT page where I can make notes, and then link these two in some way so that when I re-access the original pdf it’s easy for me to find the notes I made on it. I originally thought “annotate” would do the job, but, no, I don’t want to annotate I just want a parallel document. DT is so flexible - I’m sure I can do this, and I may be missing something obvious - like a “notes” section in the inspector that I’m overlooking?

There are two kinds of “annotations” in DEVONthink:

  • PDF Annotations
    The ones that are written into the PDF document.

  • Annotation files
    Either Markdown or RTF.
    By default these are blank (but you can set up annotation templates).
    This type of annotation is linked to the annotated record.

If you open the Annotation via the Inspector you get a standalone document window

Tagging is another way to do this, because tags in a DT database don’t all have to perform the same function.

I suspect most folks use tags to tie a common thematic element between documents, and that’s fine.

In the case of annotating a PDF, tag it with a tag of the same name as the PDF document. Or tag it with a Bates-style tag name, like PDF1.

Then, when you visit the PDF or any of the notes associated with it, you’ll see that Bates tag. Click on it and choose “reveal tag” to see everything related to the PDF. You can open the tag in one window and the PDF in another.

To save tag clutter, you might make a top level tag called Note Groups, or something like that. Create all your Bates tags in that group so you don’t have to see them every time you look in your tags.

Just a thought. Many paths to enlightenment in Devonthink.

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Excellent, thank you so much - I knew there was a way!

I do not get a standalone doc window, but I do get a new item (annotation) in my main window titled “[item name] (Annotation),” which is acceptable. However, this is happening only part of the time…often, I just get a new annotation in the small window of the inspector itself. I have no idea why one or the other happens (either the text box in the inspector or a standalone document). How can I ensure I get a new stand alone document to use for my annotation?


Open the annotation via the Inspector’s contextual menu:

Sorry if I didn’t make this clear, but I’ve been using (since seeing your original tip) the contextual menu in the inspector. I’ve been using “New from Template>Default Annotation — Text” menu choice as seen below. I’m not consistently getting a standalone document: sometimes it gives me the document, sometimes it gives me only the text box in the inspector, and I’d like to always get the new standalone document (in my case, an rtf file based on my default text editor, Nisus Writer Pro).

In your screen shot example, you appear to be choosing “Open” from the contextual menu…this menu choice is dimmed for me; I suppose because I’m trying to create a new annotation rather than edit an existing one.

I’m trying to understand how to use this feature (creating stand alone doc as an annotation) consistently rather the apparent random choice of stand alone document or annotation text box in the inspect.

thanks for quick response!

You can’t open a non-existent annotation file.

The default template is just that, the default built into DEVONthink. If you want to add your own template, choose Open Annotations Folder and add it there.

Yes, I knew that trying to open a non-existent file would probably be frustrating :slightly_smiling_face: but I also figured out that even if the new annotation opens in the inspector text box instead of a stand alone document, I can get the stand alone document by using the “Open” command in the inspector.

I still wonder why getting either a document or the inspector text box seems to be random when using the same “New from Template>Default Annotation — Text" command.

No idea. I don’t have another report of the behavior.

What do you have selected when you try to make an annotation file and it doesn’t work?

I have the item I wish to annotate selected. You can see the very end of this selection in my screen capture above–upper left corner with words “to:reply+18…” etc (this is part of URL of selected item).

What is the item - a bookmark?

Actually, it’s an archived email (.eml) from Mail. Which might beg the question “is the behavior I’m questioning common across all my item types (rtf, pdf, bookmarks, eml) or peculiar to eml?”—which I can’t answer right now. I can try them all out if you think that’s a valid question and report back here (will take some time).

No need to unless you have the time and wherewithal.
If you find some consistency in when it occurs, let us know.

OK thanks!