Trade Preview for DT's pdf reader?

Is it possible to trade Preview for DT’s pdf reader as the default pdf reader in DT? I find annotation to be more convenient in Preview.


Nope, but Shift-Command-O will open the doc in your default PDF reader.

Thanks. That’s as good as switching the default for DT—as far as I’m concerned anyway.

Note that if you right-click the Toolbar and select “Customize Toolbar” you can add an icon “Open in External Application” (which will nicely change “external application” into the default app name, depending on what you have selected). Cheers! 8^)

Thanks again. That’s pretty good, too.

“Environmental” differences between viewing a document within an external application or DEVONthink:

An external application may be necessary in order to make edit changes, for example to an Excel spreadsheet. Or the external application may offer some feature advantage for a special purpose, such as the much better presentation of the results of Find in a PDF by Preview, than a comparable Find search of that PDF within DEVONthink.

But I think there’s a downside to reading documents in an external application. The downside is that the document’s content has been isolated from DEVONthink’s tools such as See Also or See Related Text, which I frequently use to help identify variations of a concept among the documents in my reference collections. Another example is that if I select a particular word in a document viewed in DEVONthink and Option-click on it, I immediately see a list of all the other documents in the database that contain that word. Or if I select one or more consecutive terms, Control-click and choose the Lookup command, a Search window opens that displays all the documents (in all of my open databases, if I wish) that also contain that exact text string.

So while I’m in the DEVONthink environment I’ve got tools that let me compare or contrast information content in the document I’m viewing with other information in my database. Perhaps See Also lists a couple of documents that I find useful to evaluate the development of a concept, in which case, while I’m working, I can add those documents as new tabs (even if they are different filetypes) in my view of the original document. That’s power, and would not be available if I were working in that document under an external application.

I usually work in DEVONthink’s Three Panes view. If I’m reading a long document, I’ll usually press Command-F7 to switch to a Full Screen view, and adjust magnification of the text to a comfortable level. Pressing the Escape key will immediately switch back to Three Panes view.

Here’s where I may seem like an eccentric to some. I never, never markup the documents in my databases with highlighting or underlining. I consider that to be vandalizing my original documents. :slight_smile:

Instead, I make rich text annotations of my documents, usually via the Annotation template, which has a convenient keystroke shortcut. An Annotation document is rich text and is automatically linked to the document to which it refers.

Way back in 1947 when I was a college freshman I used to do copious underlining and highlighting in my textbooks and course handouts, as an aid to study. Later, I found that making notes summarizing the content I wished to learn worked much better for comprehension and retention. I became a fan of the Cornel Notes approach, and still use it. To do a “Cornel Note” within a rich text document (such as an Annotation note), I create a simple 2-column table. The right column holds a summary or excerpt, the left column holds a source link in the form of a Page Link (for a PDF) or a unique “cue string” of selected text copied from the location in the document to which a Lookup search will take one. I’ll create a new table for each topic covered, and also for other references, such as the See Also suggestions collected in tabs while doing research.

Unlike the plain text annotation notes made within PDFs, my annotation notes are searchable, and the approach works for all document filetypes, not just PDFs.

Hmm. Lots to think about there, Bill. I agree about writing annotations vs. marking up. While I am guilty of marking up—everything, including books—I also write annotations. Some of it is mindless prose outlining. The best takes note of genuinely significant points or arguments, teases out implications, takes issue, or captures a constructive insight.

The capability of attaching text notes to pdfs in Preview and other pdf readers strikes me as like you use of rich text annotations and Cornell Notes. That is especially the case with Skim, which saves text annotations in a separate file from the pdf itself, I understand with a record of page and line number location. I don’t believe that’s possible with Preview. Unfortunately, Skim’s annotations are not recognized by other pdf readers, or so I understand.

I am embarrassed to admit that while I have had DT for a while now, I do not work within it very much. I keep the folders I’m working in most often indexed, and use it to find things when I’m unsure where they’re located. I know there is a lot of power not being put to use, but the use has not suggested itself to me naturally, and I’m reluctant to study up on the capabilities and then try to find applications in my work.

In the past couple years I’ve become a devote of Vim, and in the last year of a Vim plugin, VimWiki. All VimWiki notes are kept in a single folder. Access to them is through hyperlinks inserted in test, which I organize in an outline structure. I do all my annotations in it. I’ve never been unable to find anything.

Makes me wonder if I could simply abandon my complicated file system altogether and rely on DT to find things for me, but the thought is very scare. My file system has been built over decades spanning diverse kinds of employment and volunteering.

I appreciate your long comment, and will give more careful thought to it shortly.