Idea: interested forum members help compile a list of apps which can and cannot annotate PDFs directly in DevonThink without having to export, then import

Hello,

I suggest we make a group effort to determine which apps allow us to annotate PDFs directly within DTTG without having to export → save → re-import into DTTG.
In other words, I suggest we list apps that allow us to open a PDF in DTTG → share to PDF annotation app → make annotations → return to DTTG and annotations are there, in the DTTG PDF.

iOS Apps which work:

  • PDF Pen

iOS Apps which do not seem to work (which I tested):

  • PDF Expert
  • Notability
  • iAnnotate
  • Good Reader Pro
  • Liquid Text
  • Good Notes

I did not test: Highlights which I do not like

thank you

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Highlights works.

Foxit and Adobe Acrobat also work, as does the Microsoft Office app (the unified one).

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Thank you very much @dario Dario !.

I prefer not to go back to the world of Acrobat or MS but that’s just me.

I tested Foxit. Works well and annotation tools are user friendly. Definitely better than PDF Pen. Thanks very much for the suggestion.

I had a very negative impression of Highlights and never renewed my subscription. A lot of hype in the user manual (“research based”) and basic tools are missing like inability to make basic annotations like a text box. Terrible support (no reply), and expensive for what it is ($35/year). I keep an open mind. Did I miss something ?

Up to now, Foxit would be my no:1. What would yours be ?

updated list post @dario

iOS Apps which work:

  • PDF Pen
  • Highlights
  • Foxit
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Microsoft Office app (the unified one).

iOS Apps which do not seem to work (which I tested):

  • PDF Expert
  • Notability
  • iAnnotate
  • Good Reader Pro
  • Liquid Text
  • Good Notes

Out of curiosity (and this is really not an attempt to be negative about this question, I really don’t know): what is it about DTTG’s built-in PDF annotation tool that is inadequate and leads to a desire to annotate files outside of DTTG?

I ask because I find it’s the best PDF annotation tool I’ve ever used, and I actually import things into DEVONthink so that I can use it. (I’ve used Fox It before, and a couple of others I can’t remember.) So now you have me wondering what I’m missing …

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You are 100% right. I am a total idiot. I have not used my iPad in a long time and must have based my impression on an older version of DTTG. Thank you very much for your comment. I will delete my initial post. My apologies to forum members. I tested multiple annotation apps, and like @mhucka DTTG is the best annotation app with one exception (extraction of annotated pages for which I will write a separate post).

@BLUEFROG . I tried to delete my initial question and this thread but do not have permission. Could you do so? thank you

I am as @mhucka also perfectly happy with what DTTG has built in and do most of my annotations in it. I have mostly worked around the PDF Expert incompatibilities when I wanted to use an external editor, and have also used Foxit on occasion.

For example, sometimes I may want to view and annotate two documents side by side where one of the documents is not imported into DT (most often for size reasons like scanned books that are not yet OCR’ed, or when I simply don’t necessarily want it there yet). I can then work and annotate in split view in a consistent user interface in the same app where one document is from DTTG and the other one is not. PDF Expert has good split view support, for example.

I suppose there may be other (edge?) use cases like this or some people may simply prefer the PDF editor or the workflow they are accustomed to, so I think this thread can still be helpful as a reference.

On the Mac, we expect apps to work seamlessly when it comes to exchanging common file formats. iPadOS has to grow up in this regard so that if I use whatever additional app for whatever reason, changes are not lost somewhere in the storage system and developers are not perplexed as to why that is happening.

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@dario @mhucka

Thank you for your comments. Sorry for the delayed response.

If I am surprised that we see things differently. I say this in the context of a friendly exchange. I am not “arguing” my case. I am not a lawyer, thank god - there are a few in my family.

@mhucka is at the top of academia (in the positive sense of the term) at caltech, and probably you too.

My point is that both of you, like me, probably review many PDFs of various sizes. I annotate a large number of research PDFs.

There are 2 reasons I feel that foxit is a necessity as in essential for my workflow:

. bookmarks. How can you function without bookmarks ? (I am just asking, not being sarcastic). Without bookmarks, how do you get back to a PDF if you were interrupted which happens often ? Don’t you have a need for marking important points in important PDFs ?

. extraction of annotated pages. After i finish annotating an important document that I may want to refer to at a later date (which is common), in Foxit I go to → thumbnails → annotated pages tab → copy all annotated pages → I paste the annotated pages to the front of the PDF followed by a blank page I insert. The is the only practical way I found to review annotations. It’s simply too tedious (painful) to review exported annotations out of context.

@BLUEFROG thank you for your comments about bookmarks and annotated pages. I just wanted to explain why they are essential for me.

You’re welcome and thanks for sharing some of what you’re doing. Things like that are often helpful for us to understand what people may (or may not) be doing. :slight_smile:

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Just answering quickly:

  • Bookmarks: yeah, this is something I do miss in DEVONthink too, and hope it’s added to the PDF viewer/editor soon (especially in DTTG). It hasn’t been a fatal problem for me, but definitely a frustration at times. What has helped is that DEVONthink remembers the last page I was viewing in a PDF, so if I leave one document and open another, then go back to the first, it usually goes back to where I was. This takes care of something like 50% of the times when I would have wanted a bookmark. The rest of the time I’ve tried doing things like putting a colored square in a corner, so that it’s visible when using the page thumbnail navigator, or else simply remembering what I was looking at. Neither are great solutions.
  • Extracting annotated pages: it sounds like you want to extract whole pages, and not just the text of annotations? I guess that’s something I’ve never thought of trying to do, although that’s a pretty nice idea now that you mention it. I’ve personally gotten by with just extracting the highlighted text and inserting it into an annotation document.
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Yes, good point.

I used to do that but did not like it because many annotations like handwritten annotations which I prefer using an iPad with apple pencil (you can write, draw, underline, circle without changing annotation styles), drawing a square around a graph, and other types of annotations don’t appear when you extract annotations into an RTF, and most importantly for me don’t show the context of the annotations. It is an old annotations software called Skitch that gave me this idea. I don’t recommend Skitch because you are limited to 3 pages of annotations.
Finally, a minor point but an irritant for me is that extracted annotations often contain a prefix for each annotated line or paragraph of text like: Author Joe Brown 02 Nov 2021 Highlight followed by the annotation, which makes reading extracted annotations very tedious (for me). Those prefixes can be deleted using regular expressions, but that just creates more work.