Liquidtext or MarginNotes3

Does anyone have any experience using another PDF markup tool like MarginNotes3 (or LiquidNotes) with DevonThink?

Just curious how you’re doing it and how it’s working out for you?


I use both LiquidText and MarginNote 3, depending on context and what I want to do.

I assume when you say “using … MarginNotes3 [sic] (or LiquidNotes [sic]) with DEVONThink [sic]” that you understand that MarginNote is available on iOS and macOS, but LiquidText is iOS-only?

Both applications have strengths and weaknesses. With regard to LiquidText, you can open a document from a DEVONthink database stored in DEVONthink to Go on iOS via Files, annotate the file, and save those annotations to the original in DEVONthink to Go. Though you can add handwritten annotations to the file in LiquidText, those handwritten annotations are not saved to the PDF and need to be exported. This is a weakness – LiquidText supports a subset of standard Adobe-style annotations as well as its own unique annotation figures.

MarginNote, on the other hand, does not open documents via Files and cannot save the annotations back to DEVONthink to Go (or DEVONthink on macOS). MarginNote keeps a copy of the PDF internally to the MarginNote application. The strength of this is that you can associate several PDFs into the same “study” workspace in MarginNote and take notes, creating an outline or mind map of notes, across all those documents. MarginNote also supports capturing all or parts of web pages as part of the “study” workspace, handwritten notes, comments nested inside other comments, links between comments, etc. It is a very robust study/research environment.

(LiquidText also supports multiple documents in the same workspace, but not as robustly as does MarginNote, in my opinion.)

Getting notes out of MarginNote to DEVONthink is a weakness. You have to export the notes as RTFD files, and then import them to DEVONthink. There is no synchronization between MarginNote and DEVONthink. The exported/imported RTFDs are ugly and very poorly formatted. (I don’t think the developer understands how to create well-formatted export files. The app also uses an out of date and poorly formed .mmap MindJet file as an export option – apps that read .mmap files frequently choke on the thing that MarginNote exports. The app can also export OmniOutliner files, but it exports in a dated and somewhat ugly formatted OmniOutliner format.)

I use LiquidText when I want to take reading notes on a single file.

I use MarginNote when I am researching a topic across a library of files and want to have consolidated notes.

Edit: I believe MarginNote is an excellent research tool for note taking and correlating / aggregating across multiple documents. I don’t mean to sell it short. If I were to put my money on one of these apps, or any of their competitors, it will be MarginNote. The developer has made significant strides in the past 12 months updating and upgrading the interface, fixing major instability issues, and adding creative new features. I am hopeful that more improvements, especially with export, are to come.


Thank you for the informative reply, @korm!

Looks like I need to look at MN3 again – it has been a while!

Thanks for a great response!

Yes, I did realize that Liquid Notes is IOS only, which is why I’m trying to make MN3 work for me. I just got the MN3 upgrade and I’m going to give it a second whirl.

Note that MarginNotes3 is a separate product from the original MarginNotes and must be paid for as a new app. The is an upgrade scheme available for the owners of the original MarginNotes. It appears to be a quantum improvement in both stability and features.


Just to add for users coming late to this discussion:
1: LT features are more directed at Apple Pencil than MN.
2: I don’t see much of a difference between LT and MN multiple document handling
3: LT is coming out with a major update in the fall - which includes a macOS version.

1 Like

LT on macOS? Wow! That’s good to hear.

As claimed by the developers Twitter account.

Really? LT is coming to MacOS this fall?

I have been pushing the dev for almost 3 years to bring it to MacOS. I like its uniqueness was waiting for this for a long time. If this is true, wow, this is awesome.

Hopefully this isn’t a let down, he kept telling me this " hopefully next year" for the last three years lol

Use both too.

Without going through all the details as Korm has mentioned already.

I look at them as:
Ulysses = LT
Scriveners = MN3

I am really looking forward to it too. Honestly I have been looking at LT for nearly 2 years. I couldn’t justify the price. Then I discovered what could be an awesome workflow (honestly it had to do with the fact that it could import multiple docs into a single “space”). I had always seen LT as cool, but not worth the features for $30. But I am an avid pencil user and I read a LOT of PDF’s (I am a college professor).

Is there a specific workflow you are referring to? (I’m a professor too and have also been considering LT but hesitant due to the price…)

About 18 months ago, I was excited at the page-view compression and the side-notes linkage features of LT and bought it, then I stopped using it a short while later due to a few shortcomings “at that time”:
(1) LT can’t perform search within notes (the app can search within the pdf but not the notes).
(2) LT can’t bookmark the notes (for jumping to the more important notes).
(3) The export format of LT is kind of strange. But to be honest it’s challenging to export a package of annotated text, its linked notes, and the links among notes.
(4) No desktop app in MacOS (or other OS), not even a view-only app.

Just wondering if all issues are resolved now? Else it is a very interesting app to use - at least for a one-document focused environment.

I study and teach history. So whether I am preparing for a topic in my course or doing some history, I draw from an immense number of sources. LT has given me the opportunity to create a workspace (in LT) and create the knowledge base or historical narrative using a variety of sources in one space. The ability to mind map or outline the argument I am constructing while also being able to link ideas together has been fantastic.

The pinch feature also allows me to always keep the argument of a given journal article in the front of mind as I can keep the thesis viewable as keep track of the evidence of the argument.

There are still issues. The export has a unique feature that provides the “citation” with your excerpts. This is a great feature for my use-case, but there are problems.

Now MarginNote 3 offers similar features, but the mindmaping function and pinch function of the app is definitely a game changer. I am currently using both and trying to see which I like best.


MacOS app coming in the fall according to the developer.

I get around bookmarks through a specific mind map notation, which lets you jump to specific parts.

Thanks for the info. Let’s see what LT will offer in the near future.

I very much like LiquidText and honestly, it’s not terrible navigating the file structure to open the PDF in LiquidText. LiquidText allows you to write the markup (e.g. highlighting, annotations, etc) back to the PDF as long as it’s on the PDF and not in the LiquidText workspace.

LiquidText somewhere stores it’s own file in it’s own format but this is invisible to us as users. This is where the issue lies:

If you change the file name in DevonThink, LT does not recognize the change and the association between the LT proprietary file and the renamed DT file is lost.

I am a PhD Fellow researching international law and emergent technologies, among other things. I have been using DT3 (and its predecessor) for the last year or so. I’ve just bought an iPad Mini for reading articles and other material, and an Apple Pencil to highlight and annotate. Therefore, I have downloaded DTTG onto my iPad Mini. I don’t much like the reading frame as the bar at the top, and lack of full-screen view, unnecessarily minimise the page. There are ways round it, sure, but LiquidText interests me as a reading and annotating tool, but also I would like to explore its other unique features.

Workflow is my concern, and @Calhistorian may have answered most of this already, but what I want to know is how I get from a DTTG document into the annotating and reading space in LiquidText. I assume that I simply select the Share button and then Open In?

This leaves me with the question: do the changes I make in LT show up completely in DTTG and DT3 on my Mac? Obviously, it will be lovely to have a MacOS version LiquidText, but right now, I just want to read, highlight, annotate (handwritten) and see that in DT3 and DTTG.

Is this going to happen? Or will there be workarounds required?

For example, having now downloaded LiquidText, when I tap the Share icon in DTTG, the only option relating to LiquidText is ‘Copy to LiquidText’. Is that what I want, rather than trying to Open In LiquidText, which is not an option…

In Liquid Text on an iPad, in the Open Document panel in the left sidebar, choose “Open File”. That will bring up the iOS/iPadOS Files interface. At the top level of this, make sure DEVONthink to Go is “Source”. Starting at the top level of DEVONthink to Go, navigate down to the database and group where your document is. Click it to open the document in Liquid text.

You can use the annotation features. When finished, click the “Home” icon in the upper left corner of the LT display. LT will ask if you want to “Send your annotations back to your original source PDF file”.

Limitations: LT has annotation features that cannot be stored back to a PDF document. If for instance you dragged text out of a PDF in the LT workspace, than appended comments to that text – that sort of LT-specific annotation will probably be lost.

I think you also need to own the premium version of LT … not sure about that part.

(Personally, I think doing any kind of studious annotation in DEVONthink to Go is a horrible experience. I only use MarginNote for this, if I have multiple documents in a set of annotations, or LiquidText if I want to use LT’s graphical features. DEVONthink to Go is a handy bucket / filing cabinet, and not much else. For free, you get what you pay for.)

1 Like

I also think using DTTG for annotation is not particularly user friendly on the basis of what I have seen so far, but I have faith that development will come. LiquidText seems like something I want to explore, possibly MarginNote too. not sure which one suits me best at this moment. Thank you for your time.