Highlighting PDFs

While I use DevonThink Office Pro for nearly everything, my main use case is downloading research papers from the internet, reading them, and filing them for possible future use (I’m a PhD student). The Kindle has a great feature where you can highlight text and then it keeps that text in downloadable file for you. It would be great if DevonThink could do something like that with PDF files that have text in them. If it could then hold a file of all the highlights for that document, that’d be fantastic. Even better would be a separate database of highlights.

In the meantime, if anyone knows of any workarounds, I’d be stoked to hear about those, too.

Also, I’m really really excited about a way of using DevonThink on my iPad that doesn’t involve the webserver interface. Do we have even a general idea of when that might be?



Do you know the freeware Skim?

a) It has very good highlighting and commenting abilities for PDFs,
b) it can store the remarks/highlights in a separate file “.skim” at the same place where the original pdf is saved
c) and you could create an intelligent group which “collects” all the .skim files with your notes.

I’m working like that for some weeks now and am quite content.

Kind regards

Martin (also PhD student)

I agree that it has useful highlighting features, but I would like a modification. When reading pdf’s and highlighting, one usually clicks the right button on the mouse and a menu appears, with ‘search’ at the top. It would be nice if ‘Highlight’ could be at the top, or very nearly so, as it is a nuisance to have to go to nearly the bottom to find the highlight command.
A bit finicky I suppose, but it would be useful.

Another option is to have an underline tool as well as a highlight tool.


Hi Don,

did you really try (the newest version of) SKIM?

For changing between the different Tools I use the keyboard:
Cmd-1 for selecting Text
Cmd-2, 3, 4 for *see manual
Cmd-5 for highlighting

… and you can choose between different ways of highlighting - underline is one of them an can directly accessed via Cmd-Ctrl-6.

Kind regards


I use Skim all the time, and use it for highlighting and notes. It is very good. Not quite as good as PDF-Xchange in Windows, but close, and easily the best I have found for the Mac OS. However, I am working in Devonthink and reading the pdf in Devonthink, not Skim, unless Skim is incorporated automatically into DT. Is that the case?



I always open PDF files in DevonThink with Cmd-Shift-O
-> then they are open with the OS X standard application for viewing pdfs (in my case: Skim).

are the skim notes searchable from devonthink?

yes, they are.

They can be read like in the finder Quickview and their text seems to be searchable (just tried it out to be sure).