PDF viewing, services, etc.


First, thanks for answering all of my recent questions. I really am enjoying using DevonThink–it’s just that there are things I cannot quite get a handle on and searching the forums has not turned up answers (but has helped with other concerns).

So: I have several PDF issues.

  1. Somehow I have managed to make it so that I can only view the first page of a PDF (even when I open it in Adobe). When I open it from a group only first page is displayed–the word count for the document is there but neither the number of pages nor any way to scroll through them is there. I was able to do this, but after activating the images-rotate left script I can no longer. Which brings me to the next issue;

  2. How do I rotate an entire PDF (clockwise, counterclockwise, etc)? I was able to do this with the thumbnails-rotate script, but then in a 25 page document at p.11 it all had flipped back.

  3. Next, I would like to be able to see all pages in a thumbnail view. How do I do this in the DevonThink PDF viewer?

  4. Finally, I could use Adobe to do all of this, but I really like the services menu–especially grab. BUT: services is unreliable; sometimes it’s greyed out and sometimes it’s not.

Help would be most appreciated as the potential for making this all work is so great.

Best wishes


Although DT Pro includes in Script > Images scripts to rotate images, DO NOT use these scripts to rotate pages in your multipage PDF documents. They are not intended for that purpose.

You can safely rotate one or more pages in your PDF by selecting it and choosing Open With > Preview. In Preview, perform the rotation(s) and choose Command-S to Save the changes. Back in DT Pro, select the PDF and choose File > Synchronize. The changes will now be displayed in your database.

That’s not possible in DEVONthink 1.x, but may be a feature in DEVONthink 2.x.

Not sure what you are encountering. Services are contextual, and grayed out when not appropriate. When a new application has been installed, one must logout/login or restart in order to make its Services available. Finally, an application must be installed in the Applications folder in order for its Services to be recognized.

Hi Bill

As always: thanks!

Re services: It’s simply that sometimes when I command click on the PDF services is greyed out, sometimes it’s not. This can change from one click to the next. Hmmm?


Still experiencing very erratic services behavior. I want to be able to use the grab feature when view PDFs–I can then grab a section of text or an image and drop them somewhere else. But for no reason that I can see services goes gray quite regularly or it offers the services menu that comes up when I click services in Firefox.

I have used grab via services successfully but cannot figure out why it is not working consistently.


Firefox is a bad choice if you wish to use OS X Services – its developers did not make it compatible with Services.

Thanks, but why would this get in the way of using the PDF viewer? I am not using services in Firefox; I am trying to use grab inside Devon Think. I mentioned Firefox simply b/c sometimes when clicking on services (when it’s not grayed out) I get a long menu with Skype and many other things.

I want to be able to use grab in DevonThink. Please help. Thanks


Sorry, I don’t use Grab under OS X Services, and I see why. First, obviously, this wouldn’t work in applications that are not compatible with Services. Second, there seem to be contexts in which it isn’t available to take screenshots, even in Services-aware applications such as the Finder, DEVONthink, Preview and iTunes.

For example, on my computer DEVONthink Pro > Services > Grab won’t let me take a screenshot of a Three Panes view. But I can take a screenshot of an RTF document that’s open in its own window. But not of a PDF document that’s open in its own window. Why? I don’t know, and a quick search of some references about Grab didn’t answer the question.

But Grab is also available as an application, in Applications > Utilities > Grab. Launch Grab. It will now be available to take a screenshot of anything displayed on your screen, whether or not it’s Services-compliant, and in all contexts. Grab uses the TIFF image file type.

Most of the time when I take a screen snapshot, I don’t want to save it as a Finder file, but copy it to the clipboard and paste it into a note or email. The Grab utility allows this.

Normally, though, I use a little utility called SnapNDrag, which lets me choose the image quality and size, and copy the result as JPEG to the clipboard.

I hadn’t heard of SnapNDrag until it was mentioned here. It’s a great little app – much more flexible than Grab or its keyboard shortcut, cmd-shift-4. Thanks for making note of it.
Robert Blade, Jacksonville, Fla.

I have a question/clarification regarding page rotation in a multipage pdf. This is a major function for me and I need to be rotating PDF pages many times daily. I’m not sure I am understanding correctly but, in order to rotate a page, do I open externally in preview, rotate the page, save it, and then synchronize in dt pro?
I wonder if anyone else feels the way I do, that this is a really convoluted and bad workflow? I want to be able to click on the page thumbnail and rotate my fingers on the multitouch mouse like I do in aperture and preview, and that’s all. DT Pro Office responds pretty well to gestures, swiping and zooming work as expected, why not rotation? Thank you for your replies, has anyone found a workaround?

Scansnapper, thanks for your post. Although I very much appreciate Bill’s excellent (as usual) explanation above, I agree with you 100% that we need an automated PDF rotation capability. I thought about writing a script to automate this process, which shouldn’t be too difficult, but I just don’t have time.

What we’re finding in our office is that with the enhanced features in the 2.0b release, we’re using DTPO about 3x as much as we did before. Because we’re spending much more time with the program, we now encounter “speed bump” workflow issues, like non-automatic page rotation, much more frequently.

HI redacted, thanks for your reply. If I properly understand your proposal to create a script for automatic rotation, this isn’t exactly what I have in mind, as it seems to me it’d be difficult for DTP to always determine the proper orientation of images etc.
In the meantime until a full feature set can be added, a toolbar item called ‘open in preview’ might be a start, right now I only see the ‘open in acrobat pro’ toolbar item.
Acrobat Pro isn’t as slick when rotating pages, I usually have to choose ‘rotate page’ from the menu bar. Preview is just great for roration, it responds to multitouch as I mentioned previously so I can just twist my fingers and it rotates.
If you can ‘tap in’ to this preview functionality and multitouch support and enable us to rotate pages in DTP2 that would be very excellent.
In the meantime, an interim solution would be ‘open in preview’ and ‘synchronize’ toolbar items, thanks so much