Summarize from highlights needs specific PDF format?

Hi, I read a thread on here about setting up a shortcut for summarising highlights in a PDF (sidenote: why is a German app translating to American English, haven’t the Americans conquered enough of the internet? :eu:).

I hadn’t tried the summarise function, so I imported a test pdf to give it a go. It hasn’t worked and I think I know why, but I don’t know how computers work so please can someone check my understanding?

I tend to read my PDFs in GoodNotes, and do my highlighting and initial notes in there (the bits you’d write directly on the paper in the olden days!). When I export from GoodNotes, I have a choice to export a “flattened” PDF or an “editable” PDF. I exported an “editable” PDF because I assumed the flattened version wouldn’t have info that was useful to Devonthink. I imported the PDF to DT and added OCR, but when I click on “summarize Highlights” nothing happens (I get no error in the log and no error sound plays). I’m guessing GoodNotes doesn’t handle the PDF amends in a manner that is useful to DT (or standard?), so DT thinks there are no highlights to summarise? I’m guessing some special layer is missing that is holding highlight and notes info that DT needs, is that how DT knows where the highlights are?

When you go to export in Goodnotes, you’re given this menu:

The option to include the annotations suggests GoodNotes is “storing” the data separately to the rest of the file, but I’m guessing it’s not in a format that DT can read. I actually think the amends you make in a PDF in GoodNotes might be stored in a manner that is native to GoodNotes rather than a standard PDF format, as you can do many non-standard things (GoodNotes treats it like “paper”, so I can doodle or add anything to the file).

Does this make sense? Assuming my understanding is correct, I’m guessing the problem here is GoodNotes? And if I am keen to use this function I need to read and “interact” with PDFs in software that handles annotations in a standard format so DT can read it?

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  • Did you verify the highlights in the PDF after importing it into DEVONthink?
  • Why did you apply OCR to the PDF exported from GoodNotes?

The highlights are visible in the file in DevonThink, but I don’t think they’re “real” highlights (in a language PDF understands). I noticed that if I open the PDF and click on the highlights in Mac’s Preview, each highlight is a shape that I can select and move about. I’m assuming this means GoodNotes essentially draws “vectors” or shapes on the pdfs?

I had to OCR the pdf. I don’t know why, but when I just dragged and dropped it from my desktop into Devon, it stayed as a PDF with no text layer. I’d checked before I ran my highlights test. I suspect (with no IT understanding…) that this is again due to the way that GoodNotes is processing the file. I think it might be handling it all as images. Would that make sense?

(I really love GoodNotes and how it lets me interact with files, but I feel it is perhaps all gloss without a good engine under the hood, and it might be sticking point as I delve into working with Devon more.)

If you’ve drawn highlights, they’re not the same as highlighted text. They are an art object and not recognized as highlighted text. Only selected text with a highlight applied is detected as a proper highlight.

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Thank you Jim, this is as I was guessing I think.

Following this experiment I have decided that having PDF annotations in a standard format is a dealbreaker for me (who knows what future me might want/need when we live on Mars), so I’ve been tinkering with DTTG’s handing of PDFs. And it’s very nice :wink: Thank you to whoever decided to just let the annotation functions remember the font size and colour, and the highlighter colour, you used last time. It is ridiculous how many apps don’t do this! And the ability to have different highlighter colours at the click of a button!

I haven’t finished my experiments yet (and I must remember to delete all the random pdfs I’ve saved with nonsense in them :rofl:), but I love how DTTG is handling it so far!

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You’re welcome and I am glad to hear of your positive experiences with DEVONthink To Go so far!
Happy annotating1