"Highlights" app - export annotations to DEVONthink, etc.

This is a marvelous application – Highlights

Five gold stars.

Extracts text annotations, highlights, bubble notes, boxed text, etc., from annotated PDFs. Will export to DEVONthink (yes - there is an explicit menu item to export the annotations to DEVONthink!), Evernote, as Markdown, as TextBundle, etc. For those who use DEVONthink for annotating, this adds a simple workflow step – annotate, open the PDF in Highlights, export the annotations to DEVONthink. Several other interesting features. For example, the annotating can be done in Highlights – the the original PDF with annotations is shown in one panel and the extracted annotations in a second panel that can be viewed as an HTML preview or edited in Markdown. This speeds creating a report or notes from an annoted document.

DEVONthink users have been waiting for these features for years.

On the Mac App Store:

itunes.apple.com/us/app/highlig … 4093?mt=12


FWIW - a +1 from me as well! :smiley:

Been meaning to pop something up for a while about it, but haven’t had the chance. Bought it at discount a while back, when it popped up in one of my App watchers - the initial version was a bit tricky to get the hang of (and a bit buggy), but it has already been revised, and is looking good!

Really useful being able to take a heavily annotated (read >> highlighted) PDF in DTPO, quicky open it in Highlights, scan through the Annotations view to find what I need, and jump back to DTPO… Obviously, it stands open to becoming a major part of the entire annotation workflow, which is a big plus!

Oh - btw - if anyone has managed to work out how to get the automatic link that is generated, to not open the HTML document, but rather to trigger the DTPO wikilink (or do both) - please share!

I managed to get the Title and Author into the editing pane - but trying to paste the Page Item Link, breaks things my side - as in, kills the HTML link too… Probably doing something something stoopid, is all… :laughing:

I’ve just tried it out, and it looks like it will be excellent. For the moment, it doesn’t seem to work that well (crashes with large documents – at least for me – fairly consistently). But the interface seems great, so hopefully the inner-workings catch up with the idea fairly quickly.

Thanks for bringing it to our attention.


It is a bit on the buggy side - already hung a few times in the last few moments, when I explored the “Search Metadata” option - it’s what put me off initially, and I figured I would wait a while before revisiting it.

That being said - when it works, it works really well - I’m hoping the bugs get ironed out over time, because I can see this becoming one of my most used apps - it can completely revise how I am forced to go about finding workarounds for annotation etc.

It’s such a simple(?) concept [obviously much harder to do properly] - but given how many(??) people use annotation tools in the virtual world of PDF’s, it still completely blows my mind about how little appears to be done in this field, that is, well, different… Skim is great, and free - but heck, I’d gladly drop $/£’s on a decent tool that gets the fundamentals right - this is the closest yet…

I am hopeful that it’ll work, and agree that the idea is great.

Question: can any of you get the Find command to work? It doesn’t seem to do anything for me.


Probably … but I’m a little slow … what link do you want to access, where? I don’t know what “the automatic link that is generated” means.

Thank you Korm,

This is much neater than Acrobat’s clumsy exporter or some of the web services that do similarly things.

Even though I have moved away from this style of annotation, in favour of taking the annotations directly in DT, this will be very useful for extracting highlighted passages marked up on the iPad.

I definitely wish there was an option to add your own applescript to export, something like Prizmo does.


My explanations have been slow of late - I blame it on this time of year. :slight_smile:

When you export the file over to DTPO - mine arrive in DTPO (after Highlights asks me where I want to put it) as an HTML file. In the screengrab below - the default(?) setting sees a blank Title and Author field. I’ve worked these out - by simply copying the relevant info into the editor pane, I can fill these.

The “Link” button below those, is what I am referring to. Clicking on that, opens the file in Safari. Which is fine/great - but I was hoping - in similar fashion to my inserting the Title/Author, that I would be able to insert the DTPO pag-link/wikilink there as well - that way, when the export runs, I can open the HTML annotation file over in DTPO, and have the link taking me back to the original article, right there…

Hope that makes sense? And it might be very possible - I tried to twice earlier, and then had to run off - maybe I was simply inserting it in the wrong place or something…

DTPO Highlights Link.png

In DEVONthink, select the document that you annotated, run this script, and it will put a Markdown-formatted link to that document on the clipboard.

tell application id "DNtp"
	set the clipboard to "[" & the name of the content record & "](" & the reference URL of the content record & ")"
end tell

In Highlights, in the righthand pane, click “Edit” to see the Markdown text of your annotations and notes. Paste the clipboard (⌘V) where shown here – replacing



Thanks korm [You are a DTPO Ninja]. Works a charm. And that simple step has ramped the usefulness of this workflow up several notches!

This app looks good, and worth the money for the extra features, but I’ll just point out that you can export highlights & notes out of Skim almost as easily for free.

My standard workflow is to highlight/note PDFs on the iPad via DTTG (or I would if it got fixed, hint, hint!), reimport into DTP on the Mac via sync, open in Skim to convert the highlights into the Skim format which can be exported or just copy/pasted.

Absolutely – there’s Skim and other approaches. One value added with Highlights is the abilty to collect a PDF’s annotations into a well-formatted report in one step – a report that is editable as a Markdown document before the report is exported. Horses for courses.

I was intrigued by “horses for courses”, which is apparently an idiomatic expression used by Brits to imply that what works for one person may not work for another.

A Web page states “The term is widely used in the foreign-language translation industry, where a translator is selected for a job not solely based on his or her fluency in the language, but also based on knowledge of the subject matter.”

Which means pretty much the same. :slight_smile:

Well “yes” that is one use, but more like using the right tool for the right job—whether it is a person or a tool or whatever. (As Korm pointed out to me in Indexing Photos) :slight_smile:

For this horse, skim wins the stability battle, but it looks like Highlights could win the “useful output” battle.

YMMV (Your mileage may vary).


That looks right for now, but presumably Highlights will get more stable. I think it’s a great idea.

One further idea: I think it should be fairly easy to create a custom export template for Skim that outputs notes and highlights in Markdown. I’ve had a go at this, prompted by seeing the functionality in Highlight, which more-or-less works – would be happy to share (warts and all) if anyone was interested.

Yes, indeed, that would be very useful to see. There is a greater body of customization available from Skim’s users than Highlights and probably will continue to be for now because Highlights is not scriptable (yet – it appears its sdef is incorrectly implemented).

I am interested please.

Here you go. It’s very basic but works for me: it outputs text notes as bullet points and highlights as quotes. Other types of notes aren’t handled at this stage. Copy the following into a plain text file and then save that in this folder: ~/Library/Application Support/Skim/Templates/Markdown_template.txt . To use, you just do a File/Export in Skim, then select Markdown_template.txt from the dropdown list of File Formats

I’d be interested in any feedback and improvements



<$string?><$string/> (p. <$page.label?><$page.label/><?$page.label?><$pageIndex.numberByAddingOne/></$page.label?>)</$string?>

  • <$string?><$string/> (p. <$page.label?><$page.label/><?$page.label?><$pageIndex.numberByAddingOne/></$page.label?>)</$string?>
  • <$string?><$string/> (p. <$page.label?><$page.label/><?$page.label?><$pageIndex.numberByAddingOne/></$page.label?>)</$string?>