Bookmarking pages of interest in lengthy PDFs

I routinely deal with PDFs of hundreds or thousands of pages. While I can annotate or highlight sections, I have not found a way of calling only those highlighted sections up for review. Is this possible?

Bill’s advice here is helpful for accessing pages. Bill mentions “page inks” - in the contextual menu (control-click) in either the PDF preview sidebar, or on any PDF page, choose “Copy Page Link”.

The really great thing woudl be to incorporate some of the funcationality of Skim natively into Devnothink, to avoid going back and forth–ie the ability to highlight something without having to click twice, and then to collate highlights…that’d be truly fantastic.

Readers here have done exactly that – look through the forums and you’ll find techniques and scripts for using Skim with DEVONthink. There’s also a few blogs on the tubes whose authors have worked up ways to integrate DEVONthink and Skim.


Again, thanks; I do already do a lot to make Devonthink and Skim play together as seamlessly as possible. But at the end of the day, they are two different applications. Since this is a forum for “requests & suggestions” it does seem to make sense to mention (as have others before) that it would be nice to have some of the most useful features of Skim as native features in Devonthink.

Thanks for this, but it’s a bit cumbersome if I am wanting to highlight a large number of pages. What I am after is the equivalent of a plastic Post It note that you stick to the edge of a page so you can quickly turn to it from anywhere. Any suggestions?

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Maybe you would find Skim a better environment for this than DEVONthink – it has the side bar for quickly seeing bookmarks and annotations. Especially for very long documents, I find DEVONthink lacking for the sort of thing you describe.

The focus of DEVONthink development is on integration of information content from a variety of filetypes and to provide tools to the user to work with that content.

DEVONthink avoids creating proprietary filetypes in general, and uses the display options provided in OS X by Apple, e.g., PDFKit for display of PDF, as well as plugins provided by developers for indexing and Quick Look display for a number of proprietary filetypes.

For a long time, Apple’s PDFKit simply wasn’t amenable to creation of bookmarks in PDFs. As I recall, Christian has indicated that this may become possible in a future version of DEVONthink.

I suggested using Annotation rich text notes because they can include Page Links to PDFs, as well as the ability to enter notes and/or excerpts that are searchable. I hate Adobe’s text notes because they are not searchable.

For me, the virtue of Annotation notes is that they are useful for annotating any filetype (even videos or images), are searchable, and allow extension by linking to other documents than the one to which the Annotation is directly linked.

I agree that, compared to bookmarking, creating an Annotation note might seem cumbersome. But the Annotation note has so much additional power and flexibility that I like using it.

if a document has an existing Annotation note, that’s easy to tell, as there’s a clickable link to the Annotation note in the navigation bar immediately above the pane in which the document’s content is displayed. And of course the Annotation note itself has a clickable link to the document it references.

When I’m making notes about a long PDF in its Annotation note, and need to return to a certain page of the PDF while making notes, I’ll hold down the Control key when clicking that Page Link, which will open the PDF to that page in a new tab. This allows me to have multiple views of sections of the PDF (as well as of other related documents that I’ve linked to in the Annotation note) that I can switch among, without losing my scrolling position in any of them.

Although other document filetypes such as text, HTML, WebArchive, Pages, etc. don’t have Page Links as do PDFs, I can use a selected unique “cue string” of text from the section of, e.g., a text document to which I want to return. I’ll open the Search window using that string of text to find the desired document. When selected from the results list, in most of the document types I use the first occurrence of that string will be scrolled down to and highlighted; if my cue string was a good choice, that will be the location I wished to see. That works well for me.

An attorney who is making notes about the video of a deposition can create an Annotation note linked to the video. The location of a specific statement by the person being deposed can be entered as the time reference of the statement, and so is easy to return to. That same Annotation note can also link to other documents, such as a court hearing record, etc.

Personally, I dislike “vandalizing” my reference documents by using highlighting, underlining or adding text boxes to them. Anyone, of course, is free to consider me eccentric about such matters. I am. :slight_smile:

Tim, I agree wholeheartedly, and have made this request on a number of occasions.

Bill I understand your workaround, and your preference for this workaround - but the Skim style features are simply unbeatable for us lawyer types that happen to be marking up a large PDF with our commentary for multiple purposes - including sending it off to a colleague who is not working with Devonthink, preparing for cross-examination of a witness or preparation for a conference. Sometimes we prepare in a real hurry - and simply don’t have time to structure everything around a hyperlinked annotation rtf. I, for one, would very much like the ability to search within the annotations in the annotation boxes, and I would like to see them flagged down the right hand side ala Skim

Having followed this issue for a while, I can’t ascertain whether the absence of this Skim style feature in DT:

  1. is a design choice that DT’s designers do not want to implement for design reasons; or

  2. is technically problematic or impossible for coding reasons or reasons to do with Apple OS issues.

Can you please confirm if it is either or both of these reasons?



David, it’s more like 1 + 2. DEVONthink doesn’t develop new or modified document filetypes (the introduction of Formatted Notes is an exception, but was easy to do and was directed in part at deficiencies in iOS handling of rich text).

DEVONthink’s purpose and focus of development is assisting the user to work with the information content of many different filetypes in database collections. In itself, that’s a very tall order, and the developers are bringing all possible resources to tackle it. The success of DEVONtechnologies has resulted from sticking to that focus. The developers have major development plans for the future.

Of course, there are sidetracks resulting from a series of changes in operating systems (and computer hardware) and application changes by other developers that often result in development resources to handle such changes. Although they sometimes offer possibilities for new or improved features, they often divert resources from the primary focus.

Skim is a project to modify a PDF viewer to improve note-taking in PDFs. It has many satisfied users. But as it is developed independently of Apple, it is subject to issues when Apple’s operating system is updated or upgraded. DEVONthink already provides for opening PDFs under Skim (and so use bookmarks to pages in long documents), and of course Skim notes can be exported and captured to DEVONthink.

Another application that is often suggested to DEVONtechnologies is Scrivener, which uses proprietary code for document management, especially text documents. It has advantages for some purposes, limitations for others.

True, DEVONtechnologies could adopt or develop such code resources in DEVONthink. But they would have inherent limitations. Skim note-taking only works for PDFs, for example. And they pose some risk of requiring development to keep up with operating systems, as opposed to the current focus on use of the PDF viewer and text code supplied by Apple.

Our developers have plans for the next generation of DEVONthink. Don’t expect to see DEVONthink writing much proprietary code to create or render documents. Do expect to see significant improvements in how one can work with documents.

Thanks for your considered response Bill. I’ve seen the Skim issues with OS updates quite regularly, and can understand why it is one less problem that the DT developers would want to deal with.

DT remains a revolutionary improvement to my practice management, PDF limitations included, and I,ve no doubt it’s developers are well aware of the market segment, including me, who live and breath searchable PDFs in large number and size.

I look forward to its continuing evolution!