Newbie: Can I create a link to a passage in an ebook in Apple Books?

I’m just starting with DT and would like to use it for research. Much of my research material is in Apple Books where I highlight and add notes to passages. Can I drag a highlighted passage into DT to create a clickable link to it in Apple Books. I’d like to be able to click the link and have Books open the book and go straight to the passage. Also is there a way to add a ‘add to DevonThink’ in the contextual menu within Books so I could simple right click and add it to my inbox?

Is Apple Books the wrong ereader for what I want to be able to do? If so can you suggest one that is more compatible/functional with DT? Thanks for your help


For that, what I use is generate a PDF with Calibre (12x15 or 12x18, 16 pt font), and then annotate the resulting PDF, inside DT in maOS and DTTG in iOS, and if I need modify the PDF itself, PDF Expert.

That way I have the original document with original annotations openable in any PDF Viewer (including Windows and Android), and annotations themselves once exported.

In you case, you could “export” each note (manually I think dropping over DT itself) and add a DT link to the original document.


If you can get the ebook as a PDF (as per @rfog’s suggestion above) you can deep link (that is, link to specific sections) within that PDF using hook; deep linking is currently limited to PDFPenPro and Skim PDF Reader, with Adobe Acrobat support coming with Hook v. 2.3 (which is described as “forthcoming”). Those “hooked” links can be attached to other documents (e.g. in DT) or pasted, e.g. into a note.

Apple Books does not support any form of deep linking as far as I can tell (including with hook).

Or perhaps highlighting and annotating the PDF (see above) in DT and then using the “Summarize Highlights” tool would be enough? That doesn’t link directly to the highlight, but does link to the appropriate page in the PDF.

I’ve thought about that but I like to read on my phone and pdfs are just too small; I like epubs for the adjustable font size but of course there’s the question of pagination. As I understand it epubs are basically html documents and since you can highlight and attach notes to specific text, I wonder why it’s so difficult to create a hyperlink to the specific text in an epub. It would be incredibly convenient and use the advantages of digital technology. On top of that, if the bibliographic information could be included in the meta data (apple does this mostly when sharing a quote from an ebook), then bibliographies and footnotes would be a breeze. I’ve seen on some epubs the choice of epub pagination (ie the epub reader determines the number of pages based on font size) and print pagination (page numbers based on the printed version of the book). Really this all seems to be possible and within the ‘promise’ of digital media, but I suppose there just isn’t the demand for it so no one has bothered to suss it out.

Since it is basically an HTML document, the same rules for anchors and links apply. In order to link to a particular part of the document, you need a way to identify it. Trivially. In HTML, the id attribute is used for that.
If the ePub contains those attributes for … what – paragraphs? headings? words? … you might see the challenge. Anyway, if it contained these attributes certain HTML elements, one could technically link to them. If that does anything (given the less than underwhelming support for app links in iBooks) is another question altogether.

1 Like

It is even worse, because in opposition of mobi (and PDF), there is no annotation standard. ePub file is not modified in any manner by reading programs, and that means annotations use to go in a side file… in a proprietary format. For some viewes, like KOReader, you could look inside that file, but for any iOS program, due program isolation and virtualization, nobody can access to that file.

1 Like

I hear you, but it is being identified in a way already isn’t it? When I highlight a text and write a note about it, I am identifying that text in some way: I’m singling out the passage with a format change and extra information (my note), and that change will follow that text around no matter how I change the viewing format. I don’t know how this is accomplished and have only basic html coding experience.

If there were a script that could generate a unique identification code and attach it to the text in the same way that my note would be attached to the text, then in theory a hyperlink could be established to a specific text in an epub and in DT a script would say " open this book in Books (or whatever ereader) and go to this identification code". But as you say Apple Books has poor support for linking and no way to add it.

Are there ereaders for the mac and ios that do? (another thing I like about Books is I can read on my phone and then go to my computer and pick up where I left off right away and all my highlights, notes and bookmarks are synced.)


Apples and some other kind of fruit. You’re talking about a mechanism internal to your ePub reader. I won’t know. I was talking about external links and HTML. There are a number of ways to achieve what your reader seems to be doing that are not available to external apps. Or other ePub readers.

The keyword here being “text”. What exactly would that be? An arbitrary span of characters? What if the underlying HTML does not happen to put exactly that span of a text in a span element. Impossible to do. The “script” you were thinking about would have to be able to modify the ePub file. Which is something I’d rather not see it doing. Maybe Calibre offers this kind of support or you could implement it there with a plug-in.

As @rfog said, ePub is simply not made for that.

1 Like

I can’t get this to work with Apple Books but I do have a similar workflow with Kindle on my iPad & MacOS. I use Readwise ( to sync all highlights and notes added to a kindle book, when it does this it creates a direct link to the location of each highlight/note.

To preserve the hyperlink I need to use Evernote as an intermediary as the native markdown export from Readwise does not maintain a hyperlink (or DT can’t see it) So I have Readwise set to automatically export book highlights to Evernote to a ‘Readwise’ folder in Evernote Classic on Mac and then use the native Evernote import in DT to import from that folder.

Doing that I can then click the link in the notes within DT and it will open the Kindle Mac app at the right location for the note.

I also use Readwise in the same way to sync research notes from PDF’s I annotate in PDF expert and any online materials with