Pdf annotating tools grayed out

Team, none of the pdf annotating tools are available to me. Any idea why?

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Certain PDF documents are opened read-only to avoid a text layer corruption due to issues of the PDFkit framework of macOS. One workaround is to convert it to a new paginated PDF (see Data > Convert), another one the hidden preference ForceEditablePDFs

There is a read-only property icon visible in the Navigation bar above the view/edit pane…


@cgrunenberg Is there a search criteria or AppleScript property that people can use to track down these read-only PDFs?

Similar to others, I run into this problem a lot. I was hoping to preemptively fix them all at once, but I’m having trouble finding an easy way to search for them (as opposed to using the hidden preference to force them into submission or just waiting until I stumble upon them).

Thanks for your help!

Can’t say I have done much research into editing PDFs that show “read-only” in DEVONthink and why it works for me, but I find most of the time, unless the PDF creator has encrypted the PDF to prevent edits (their prerogative), it works for me to use the “Open With…” using Apple’s Preview and its Markup Tools on the Markup Toolbar. If I need fancier editing features, I’ll “Open With…” PDFPen.

This approach means I don’t have to pre-hunt for those that DEVONthink’s use of PDFKit opens in read-only. Allows me to get on with things which is the priority for me.

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That’s not possible, this is determined when opening the file (and might change in future version or different macOS versions).

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I have come across this situation repeatedly – PDFs are not locked but some (a significant percentage of downloaded academic papers, for instance) have the highlight and other tools greyed out in DT3. In those cases I am unable to mark up the document.

The solution, which I have just discovered serendipitously is to open the PDF in Preview (either right click and choose “open with >” or use the “open externally icon”. Then make a quick mark on the PDF in Preview, e.g. highlight something.

At this point if you “Save” the PDF (CMD-S), the changes should be reflected in DT3 and you can mark up to your heart’s content within DT3. (Or just close the PDF in Preview, which should save and update the state of the file in DT3).

I am using Preview 11.0 on Monterey 12.4.

It is a workaround, but not too onerous.

Edit: For clarity about what I am trying to say.

They likely have fonts that are PDFKit incompatible. You can try Data > Convert > To PDF (Paginated) in DEVONthink as an alternative method.

Hi @cgrunenberg

By chance, is there a script or other tool that people can use to assess whether a PDF is likely to run into text layer corruption issues? How does DEVONthink / PDFkit make this determination (i.e., whether a PDF should be opened as read-only or not)?

The reason I ask is that run into this problem a ton (with both new and old PDFs), and it really slows down my work when dealing with them on a case-by-case basis.

Instead, I’d like to temporarily create a global smart group for all PDFs, and then run this script on each of them to assess whether I should convert them to a new paginated PDF. I honestly don’t care how slow the script runs, given that I only intend to run it once on these old PDFs.

Once I’ve fixed my databases’ existing PDFs, then I’d create a more permanent global smart rule for processing new PDFs in my inbox (i.e., to avoid putting myself in the same predicament again).

Thanks for any help you can lend!

DEVONthink checks the creator and the fonts of the PDF but even in that case it’s not error proof as these PDFkit issues are somewhat unpredictable. But I’m not aware of any scripts.

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Thanks @cgrunenberg! I really appreciate it.

Is there any way you guys would consider either of the following:

  1. Adding a property to all records that indicates whether it will be opened as read-only (or even just remembering whether it was previously opened as read-only), or

  2. Making a script available, as an extra/add-on, that people can use to effectively mimic how DEVONthink/PDFkit makes this determination

As always, thanks for your help!

No such plans currently but maybe in a future release (as the necessary information is not indexed so far)

It seems to happen with me with a feed that’s saved as paginated pdf. Is that supposed to happen?

What is the feed URL?

(deleted because not relevant and private)

Is the document marked as read-only in the editing/navigation bar?

Yes, same as the screenshots above

Scherm­afbeelding 2022-11-28 om 20.23.46

Edit: it seems to be fixed once I move a pdf out of the feed into another group.

Items inside feeds are indeed not editable as they might be automatically updated or removed.

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Ah ok I understand, thanks! Does that mean the suggested workflow is to move items out of the feed for further processing? Up until now I just kept them inside

That’s highly recommended.