Help, please: How to edit or even export Annotations-Content from PDF highlights?

I have tried to read everything I can about the kind of annotations that you create when you highlight text on a PDF (see photo, below) and haven’t found the answer elsewhere, so I’d be grateful for any help.

  1. Often I’m working with PDFs of older documents that don’t always OCR too well. How do I edit the “Content” field that these highlights create in the Annotations column? (Please see photo so you know which Annotations field I’m using. It continues to drive me crazy that the two fields have the same name but act very differently.)

  2. How do you capture or export the text from the Content field of these particular annotations? I do know how to create the standard kind of annotation file, for that other kind of annotation, but I would also like to be able to capture the content, quotes, etc., from the annotations I create by highlighting text in PDFs, etc. (Again, please see attached photo so you can see what I am talking about here.)

Thanks so much for any help!

The content is automatically retrieved from the text layer of the PDF document. However, this text layer can’t be edited.

There are two possibilities:

  1. Tools > Summarize Highlights

  2. You could select one or more annotations in the inspector and copy them (e.g. via the contextual menu) to the clipboard

That’s great. Thank you! I’d love to be able to edit the text in the contents field, when the text captured doesn’t reflect the text in the document. But maybe that’s a matter of somehow editing/correcting text after OCR?

But I just tried it and the summarize highlights tool is fantastic, even on multiple files at once. I guess I missed it because I was looking everywhere using the term “annotations” instead.

Thanks so much for the quick and helpful reply.

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A follow up question, if it’s OK to add it here:

Is there a way to get DT Pro to export or capture all tags from a file and list these as an annotation, similar to what we can do with the “summarize highlights” tool?

I use tags as a coding tool, and it works well to allow me to quickly view each group that contains a specific term or example.

But I would also like to be able to ensure these tags are attached to each document in a more permanent way. For one thing, it is far too easy to accidentally delete tags and be unable to recover them. But also, I would like them to appear in annotations so that when I export them, I have these attached to the file in one place.

Hope my question makes sense. Thank you!

Yes, collecting tags in a new recrod is possible via AppleScript. I could write this later if you want. It’s of course not possible (for me) to add something to DEVONthink’s annotation inspector.

What document types do you use? At least for (some) picture formats and PDFs it should be possible to write an AppleScript that uses ExifTool.

I think I already have one that writes (predefined) keywords into PDF metadata, if so it should be easy to modify it to write tags into keywords. If not I would have to write it anyway …

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What do you mean by “list these as an annotation” - an annotation in a PDF, in an Annotation file, or a summary file?

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Sorry. I didn’t see this and I guess my notification settings were off. Thank you. I use PDFs. If you could write such a script, that would be great. Thanks again.

I still can’t decide which annotation system I prefer and get confused by the fact that annotation means two different things in DT, and a third if you annotate the PDF in acrobat separately. But I guess whichever one would allow me to capture them in the summarize highlights tool. Someone else replied above with a potential script solution. Sorry I didn’t see your response until now. Thank you!

@cmedy you’ll find the script here

Thank you! I’m just seeing this now and look forward to trying it out. Thanks again and hope you have a happy new year!

Maybe changing your notification settings would help? :wink: