Annotate documents (PDFs, Web archives, etc.)

One thing very useful about Acrobat is that you can “highlight” and annotate passages of text and whatnot. For research notes, this would be very useful. DTPro doesn’t seem to have the capability for taking any sort of margin notes like that, and I’d like to see it in a future version.

DT uses Apple’s PDFKit to render PDFs. It may be possible in the future to do marking and text annotation like Preview within the database environment.

Of course, you can open your PDF externally with Acrobat or Preview and make annotations that will be visible in your database – although you may have to use the Synchronize command to see the changes.

Probably the best would be to add support for thirdy party plugins in DT§: someone could then write a Skim plugin to be able to see and add notes as in Skim, without executing it.

Um, am I doing something wrong? When I add comments to a PDF file using Acrobat 8 Professional, then synchronize the file to my DT database, searching does not cover the contents of the comments. And, when I double-click on the file to have DT display the PDF file, the comments I’ve added appear as yellow sticky icons – but I cannot open them up to see their contents.

Perhaps this should be a request for assistance, if (as a newish user of DT) it’s just something I haven’t figured out yet. Otherwise, sure would be a nice feature!

– John

P.S. Brown County? Hey, I used to teach at IU!

Hi, John. I taught and published at IU many years ago and will be doing more in semi-retirement. Nice place to live, without extremes of climate. There’s enough snow here at the moment to be beautiful, but not enough to make life difficult.

If you were to use the feature of Acrobat 8 to index the text content of a group of PDF files, you would find that the text in comments was not indexed. Text comments (text notes, in Preview) are not part of the “text layer” in the PDF file format. Similarly, if you open a PDF in Acrobat and do a Find search, the text in comments isn’t seen. nor can the search in Preview look at text note content.

Leopard’s Preview has enhanced note annotations. If you open a PDF under Preview, add notes and save the PDF with the notes open, you can see them in your DT Pro database. But you still can’t search or clip text from the notes.

DEVONthink uses Apple’s PDFKit to read and display PDFs. I’m optimistic that we’ll see further evolution in PDFKit to make better use of text notes.


Thanks for your answers, both about Nisus RTF and PDF notes. I think I’ll start saving Nisus documents in .doc format…

While I’m writing this, let me add another question: Any possibility for DT to be able to read XML files in a future upgrade? This may be another massive programming requirement, I dunno, but I have huge archives of Chinese and Japanese Buddhist texts in XML, which it would be wonderful to be able to include. So far, I haven’t found a way to convert them all to RTF…

Best wishes, from a former neighbor,

– John