The problems with using Spotlight comments to store keywords or other information in OS X has been discussed in several threads in this forum.
On the one hand, users want DEVONthink to carry over into the database metadata that has been entered into Spotlight comments, when files are captured into the database, and to export metadata added to the Comment fields of documents inside the database, when files are exported.
So that’s what happens.
But Apple hasn’t “protected” the Spotlight comment field in OS X 10.5.x, and application developers don’t treat Spotlight comments uniformly. Some applications – Acrobat is one – will erase Spotlight comments when a file is edited and saved.
Over the years, I’ve looked at all the common methods for adding keywords, note and comments to documents, including Comments in DEVONthink, Spotlight comments, notes and annotations for PDFs in Acrobat, Skim and Preview (but these are limited to PDFs) and so on.
All of them had severe limitations, as far as I’m concerned. A pox on all of them! Notes in PDFs were limited to plain text – I don’t like that limitation, as I can’t insert hyperlinks or images. PDF notes have not been searchable (although that limitation may disappear for Skim notes). And I want to be able to associate notes with any file type, not just PDFs.
So I make all my notes in rich text. They are searchable. They are associated with the document to which they refer by their Name, and by hyperlink/item link. If I do a search for a document, the search results will also list the notes associated with it. If I look at a note, I’ve got a link to see the document to which it refers. If the note refers to something on page 51 of a PDF, I’ve got a Lookup string that will take me to page 51 of that PDF. The same Lookup trick works whether the referenced document is PDF, WebArchive, HTML or text.
If I want to send a copy of a document to a colleague, I can copy my notes associated with that document into its Comment, then export it. Some limitations will apply, of course – no working hyperlinks, no diagram images, no text formatting.