Annotations on my pdf's in Scrivener

I write a lot of academic research papers. During the writing I want to pull in a lot of pdf’s (usually journal articles) into Scrivener under the Research tab in Binder. It is great to have them all available right there.

I however usually make a lot of annotations on these pdf’s I read. In the past I would read the pdf in Mac’s Preview or Goodreader on iPad with the files saved in Dropbox so I can read and annotate anywhere.

How do I get to make these annotations on pdf’s once they are in Scrivener? Do I have to make the annotations outside of Scrivener and then pull the pdf file back into Scrivener? What if I read this pdf in Scrivener and then want to add or change an annotation right there? Do I have to go back to the file outside of scrivener, make the annotation, and then pull it back into scrivener? This seems so cumbersome. Any suggestions?

Please help.

Thanks a lot.

In short, yes you need to use a fully featured PDF reader to do advanced things to PDF files, such as taking notes directly onto them. Scrivener has only very basic markup provided to it by the PDF viewing engine: highlight and overstrike—you would use the regular keyboard shortcuts for those.

But, it’s probably not nearly as cumbersome as you are thinking. It sounds like you are currently exporting the PDF from the Binder (or just using an existing copy on the drive), marking it up, then importing and deleting the old PDF from the Binder. Yeah, that would be a huge pain. :slight_smile: Instead, just select the PDF, hit Ctrl-Cmd-O or click the little “Send” button in the footer bar (note you can right-click to set up a default PDF program or just use another one temporarily).

When you’re done, save and close the PDF. This works on the copy in the project, directly.

This works with all kinds of files, incidentally. You can for example edit pictures using this same method, or spreadsheets, whatever.

Thanks for this information, Amber. I’ve wondered about the same thing. What to say? Scrivener: Brilliant!

Scrivener User should be able to make annotations on pdf. I do not understand why I can’t since Scrivener is “Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers”.

Because the PDF viewer that we use does not support it and there is no way for us to add it. It’s as simple as that. If you want to add annotations to PDFs on a Mac in programs that use the Mac’s PDF viewer, then it is Apple you should be submitting your feature requests to. We cannot change how the Mac works at that level.

If I understand correctly the only tool to annotate a pdf inside Scrivener is the Highlight function (text strikethrough is useless). Which is ok. It would be nice if inside Scrivener you could add even a pdf annotation. I understand that Scrivener uses the Apple engine, but also DevonThink uses the same engine and with DT you can fully annotate a pdf.
I have no problem to use an external program to annotate pdf but it could be very handy not to leave Scrivener.

That is true, I should not have said it was impossible without qualification. Skim is another program that has augmented the default engine (though their implementation does not immediately alter the PDF but works more like an internal overlay that nothing else can read until you export it, and then it is no longer something Skim can work with). But in the case of DT they have more than one programmer, and with Skim, well that is their whole goal in life. :slight_smile: So while it may be possible (few things in programming are truly impossible) it is a matter of resources and being a small company that is mainly focussed on making a writing program rather than an asset manager or PDF reader. In other words, maybe some day, but there are plenty of other pressing things we’d like to do with the writing side of things, first.

How about adding support in Scrivener for viewing Skim annotations? No need to add annotation tools when another tool does the job elegantly…

Use case: I have a large library of Skim-annotated PDFs. These are organized in DevonTHINK. Now that the time comes to write, I’d love to leverage Scrivener’s split-pane view for writing, so I drag my PDFs into Scrivener directly from DevonTHINK… but to my dismay, the annotations are lost! Would be great to have them show up in Scrivener.

There’s a Skim framework here: … nd%20tool/

I have noticed that a pdf not embedded in a project but only referenced cannot be annotated by Scrivener (the text highlight function does not work). Is this correct, or I am making some mistake?

For academic writing, the viewing and manipulating (annotating) of PDFs is extremely important: on this part Scrivener needs improvements.


Why not leave them in DevonThink and have both programs open at once?

I love Scrivener as much as anyone, but DevonThink is just as outstanding in its domain.