Edit Table of Contents in PDF, please!

I want to get away from PDF Expert, and this feature does not allow it…


We’ll consider this for future releases but DEVONthink can of course not include every feature of every external editor for all the various file formats out there :slight_smile:

Of course, just PDF :wink:
For most users this is a central format, all the more you’ve already done a lot to minimize the use of external apps for PDF. Editable TOC is a widely used feature. Maybe you could do even automatic TOC generation… Like ABBYY… :roll_eyes:


I second this request wholeheartedly.

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Is there any update from the developers on this? It is a crucial feature for handling pdfs in my workflow. It would make Devonthink the perfect pdf reader for me!

Nothing to announce right now.

FWIW, I’d like to reiterate this feature request. It would be so awesome to be able to add and edit the ToC for a PDF. Just like @Silverstone said, it’s the only feature that makes me leave DT and go to an external editor (PDF Expert and Nitro PDF Pro support this feature, PDF Expert having the best and most convenient implementation).

And one additional request: in the Inspector’s Table of Contents view, I’d love to be able to wrap the title of each item and read the whole thing.

Thanks, guys.

If a ToC exists, shouldn’t it be a collection of links to the headings in the PDF? What would have to be edited about it?
Otoh, if no ToC exists, how’s does creating one work in the tools mentioned here?

I’m asking because 1 I don’t know these tools and 2 am trying to figure out how a script might add a ToC to a PDF.

Hi @chrillek,

For me, I find that the ability to create a ToC from scratch on a given PDF is a great way to process a long-format text for further reference and study. Most of the PDFs I receive or collect don’t have styled headings or any other references for their structure. Bookmarking or faving some pages doesn’t serve this purpose, since normally bookmarks are not nested.

In PDF Expert, I can select a heading, title or any other text, type a keyboard shortcut and have it create a new item for the ToC, with the selected text. Then I can rearrange the items as I see fit: dragging them up or down, nesting them inside other items, etc. If I don’t select any text, the ToC item refers to the page I’m looking at, which is also handy.

In Devonthink, I can view that ToC but I can’t edit it. That’s a feature that would be awesome to implement, since it’s almost the only reason I leave DT and open the file in PDF Expert.

I will quit apologizing for my English at some point, since it’s not my first language, but I hope I explained myself. I leave a short GIF down here of the process of creation of this ToC in PDF Expert.

2023-12-24 12.28.35 captura PDF Expert

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Thanks for clarifying (looks like an EU law). I can’t speak for the DT developers, of course. But that looks like a fairly involved process: Not only do you add selected text to the ToC, you also reorganize the hierarchy of the ToC itself (and probably its content).

Creating/adding entries to a ToC in DT might be possible with a script that works on the currently selected text and creates an outline (that’s Apple’s term for a ToC) for it. But moving those outline objects around, thus changing their hierarchy, is a lot more complicated. And trying to have a script figure out the headings automagically is near impossible, it seems.

Though: What if you could select examples of the different heading levels (in your case: Title 1..., Chapter 1, Section 1, Article 1 as 1st through 4th level headings) and then have the script build the ToC using this information? That would work reliably only if the document is consistently formatted, though.

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There are also inexpensive if elderly tools on the App Store for this; I use PDF Outliner, though PDF Outline is similar in functionality. Both can edit existing ToCs as well as create them, and have the capability to auto-generate a ToC based either on a selected font style or on the app’s own best guess; results can be mixed, but will quite often give you something you can then edit into a more usable version.

Adding a table of contents can sometimes dramatically increase file size, so I keep PDF Squeezer (also in Setapp, as is the aforementioned and also very useful NitroPDF) to hand. And just occasionally the process can corrupt the text layer and need the PDF to be OCR’d again, so if you’re not working with DT Pro make sure you keep a backup and/or have a third-party OCR tool like Elucidate to hand.

I do agree it would be wonderful to have this functionality in DT itself, though! It wouldn’t be trivial to implement and it feels greedy actually to request it, but I do rely heavily on the Table of Contents inspector for PDF navigation in DT and do a massive amount of hierarchical ToC creation and editing in external tools to support it. I don’t know how anyone copes with long PDF documents without them. You can of course fake a ToC with a set of links in an Annotation file, but it’s not the same as having a clear, compact, hierarchical overview of your document contents in the ToC Inspector itself.


Thanks for your insights, @chrillek and @NickLowe. I will certainly look into PDF Outliner since I love using single purpose apps. Regarding DEVONthink, I was asking for this feature oblivious of the difficulties its development might pose. I’m sorry, I’m just a needy user asking for stuff like it was Christmas:)

By the way, is there any plans yet? )

It is actually planned for an upcoming release but nothing to announce yet.


This is great news, can’t wait.

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