Searching notes/annotations in a pdf

I am wondering how it can be made possible for any type of text you add to a pdf to be searchable.
If this is not possible, it means you have to convert each pdf to rtf or txt to be able to add searchable text.
Regards, Jan.

This is well documented here. Annotations are currently not indexed, therefore not searchable. This may change in future releases.

Thanks, Bluefrog,
Hope this will change in future release.
Regards, Jan.

Hello Jan,

The way Devonthink handles this is by the creation of a separate document which directly links either to the page in a pdf file or to a search of the specified text.

The easiest way to do this is to use the built in Annotation Template 'Data->New From template->Annotation (Cmd Opt Shift A). The Annotation Template creates a new rtf document to insert notes and tags that are relevant to the annotation.

There are a number of user contributed scripts on this forum which add additional functionality to the basic idea of the annotation template by for example collecting all the annotations for a single source document into one rtf documentor by collecting all the annotations for a single source document into a group.

This approach in fact proves far more flexible that adding text directly to pdfs.


This more-complicated kludge might work in some situations, but having a separate document just to get searchability makes no sense for me, and I suspect most other users. I’ve been assuming my annotations were searchable. Please make do include annotation searching in a future release.

I primarily used annotations so that I could find either a scanned document that didn’t OCR completely correctly, or to add text I could search for in the future that wasn’t in the original.



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I spoke too soon, it’s partially fixed. Searching annotations works for new annotations, but it doesn’t find them in existing annotated PDF documents. Perhaps the old documents need to be re-indexed. What is the easiest way to do this?

Make sure your local backups are current (a general admonition).
You can do a File > Export > Database Archive first, if you’d like then do a Tools > Rebuild Database. This will rebuild the indices.

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Sounds a bit drastic just to re-index. I imagine you’d loose some metadata at a minimum.

The dialog says:

There is no previous record of the annotations in the index so they wouldn’t be searchable.
And no you’re not going to lose metadata.