External PDF Markup not showing up on OS X 10.9

The annotations I make in Preview aren’t persisting when I re-load them in Scrivener.

It’s possible to highlight PDFs that have been imported into Scrivener. According the manual and to the official video tutorials, additional annotations are possible by opening the Scrivener PDF in an external editor, saving, and reloading. This worked for me in the past.

Now, using OS X 10.9, this functionality appears to be broken. Highlights made in Scrivener appear in PDFs opened in Preview, but annotations made in Preview don’t appear in Scrivener. I’ve checked, and the annotations are persistent — If (1) I open a PDF in an external editor, highlight some words, then save the file; then (2) those highlights won’t appear in Scrivener; but (3) if I re-open the PDF in Preview a second time, the highlights I made before are still there. Note that I’m always and only opening PDFs from the Binder using the “Open in External Editor …” command.

I’m wondering if this has something to do with the colors OS X uses to highlight text. In older versions it was just straight yellow, but more recent versions of Preview assign a mock-highlighter color, complete with ragged top and bottom. The color is also different than the one Scrivener uses — more of a darker yellow.

Surprise! Apple updates Preview and forgets to update their own PDF Kit viewer so that everyone else cannot view the annotations that Preview can make. :slight_smile: This does appear to be an issue with the type of highlighting they are doing. The highlights do not show up in programs like Skim, and anything using PDF Kit like Scrivener or DEVONthink. They do show up in Adobe Acrobat as a text highlight, so on some level Apple is using the correct PDF syntax for a highlight, but if you do have Acrobat, you’ll note the actual highlight is very light and difficult to see. I’m not enough of a PDF expert to say why their new highlighter doesn’t work everywhere, and it is all rather academic anyway, since as I say, we’re just using Apple’s very own tool for viewing PDFs, which appears to be somewhat broken in 10.9 in several ways, not just this. There are performance and drawing glitches as well.

Do note that for simple highlights you can use Scrivener. Just use the regular text highlight shortcut, [b]Shift-Cmd-H[/b] to highlight selected text in the PDF. If that is all you’re using Preview for, this problem may be sufficiently dodged.

Alas I’m doing a little more than just highlighting. I often have multiple PDFs open at a time, and in an ideal world that annotations I’d make would persist in Scrivener. Does Apple tend to fix these types of thing over time?

Either that, or provide support for extra panes in Scrivener :smiley:

To be clear the annotations are there, you just can’t see them in Scrivener (which, I realise, is somewhat useless but technically they are there, and if you open said PDF out of Scrivener in Preview again the highlight will be visible). I just wanted to reassure you that they are not lost. If you regularly use Previewer to view your PDFs anyway, then you’re fine.

Seven years ago I would have said, sure, but not so much any more. :neutral_face: This seems sufficiently ridiculous to get it fixed as fast as possible, though. If their main PDF viewing/editing program is producing highlights that most other PDF readers will either not display, or display very poorly, well it kind of brings to question whether their new highlighter should ever be used, unless one intends to use only Preview for the rest of their life.

Or let me demonstrate visually, is this what you want your PDFs to look like for all time to come?

I mean, you can see there is a highlight there, but only just.

We already support that with the QuickReference panels. They can load PDFs as well, so you can have however many you want at once. Granted they will only show highlights made using tools other than Preview—but if your main usage of Preview is just to have more than one window, you can already accomplish that much with Scrivener. Just select the PDF in the Binder and hit the Spacebar.