Hiding/Collapsing Annotations/Footnotes


My Apple Developer Connection subscription runs out in February and I have one technical support incident left - whereby you can get code-level help from Apple engineers. Since I only submitted my first ever incident to them yesterday, I have no idea how much help they really give, but in the event that it is genuinely useful I am thinking about using the remaining incident to ask for some help in implementing hiding or collapsing annotations or footnotes.

Before doing so, I’d like to get some user feedback. First, though, just to make this absolutely clear: just because I ask Apple about this doesn’t mean it will ever be implemented. It depends on their reply and on how it would impact on other things even then. So all this is entirely theoretical.

Anyway, here are the two ways I could see this working:

  1. Each annotation and footnote could be collapsed or expanded individually, leaving a little marker in the text you would click on to expand it, which would appear before the footnote or annotation so that you could collapse it. There would be a “toggle all” option in the menu, of course. This option would give the most flexibility. It would probably also be the hardest to implement (at a guess), the most buggy, and it would also be more obtrusive, I think.

  2. The other option would be having a “Hide/Show Annotations” and “Hide/Show Footnotes” feature, which would hide or show all annotations or footnotes. A small marker would still be left in the text, but it could be very subtle - a grey “fn” in a circle, for instance, or a coloured “nb”. Of course, there then is the problem of what happens when you want to create a new footnote when they are all hidden… Either the option shouldn’t be available, or all footnotes would automatically be displayed again upon creating a footnote, I guess.

I personally like the simplicity of the second option but I bet everyone disagrees. :slight_smile: Like I say, there are no guarantees here and I really doubt much will happen any time soon, but it’s worth using my technical support incident for this, I think (though of course, I could ask about widows & orphans instead…).


I like #2. Then again I don’t use these features very much.

On the “what to do for new” can you just allow for

  • select the text to make footnote
  • select menu “make selected text footnote”
  • text is collapsed into marker

For the record I recognize that I am nobody (refer to Keith’s “everyone disagrees”). Just remember that “nobody” is perfect.

I agree with Jaysen, that number 2 looks good and, for my purposes, adequate. I seldom use footnotes, but I do like the idea of being able to manipulate (ought we to have another verb for what the computer does as opposed to what the hand does? Something like “cyberlate”?) ( forget I mentioned it ) the text of annotations in this fashion.


Yeah, I like #1 better. It’s the way Final Draft handles annotations. It’s especially useful for tucking away big chunks of text that may be used later. If you could only expand/collapse all, long annotations would make navigation unwieldy.

If this theoretical possibility comes to pass, may I also request some sort of categories for annotations? That way, you could easily tell if a collapsed annotation was a container with an alternate scene, notes about changes needed, or question to ask your writing partner. Again, this is a feature that Final Draft has had for many years – and it’s pretty primitive.

Just a thought.

Let’s not make this any more complicated than already stated - there would definitely be no categorisations (although the “np” or whatever would be the colour of the annotation, so you would just use different colours for that). I’m not going to spend months developing this - if Apple can give any help with the technical support incident, then I may look at it, that’s all. (For the record, I could have implemented annotations in the way FD uses script notes fairly easily - that’s similar to how SG’s annotations worked. It’s a lot more complicated when they are actually inside the text, but also much easier to read…)

Thanks for opinions so far.

Either would be great, but option 2 would be sufficient for my purposes.

I actually don’t mind having them there and ghosted as it is, but option 1 would definitely be even better!

Option 2 would be useful, although I suspect I would just leave them showing most of the time.

With Option 1, I think I would use it regularly.

(But obviously, if 2 is much easier, go with that)


(1) Seems fairly easier on a new user or for a learning curve (seems simpler)

(2) Sounds a tad more difficult but more flexible and powerful in the end.

I would shoot for #2 because it offers (IMO) more flexability to the user overall than #1.

Either one would work for me, though my first reaction was to go with #2.

Would the little np have a flyout like Word does where if you hover the mouse on it, the text appears like in a Tool Tip? That would be awesome.

(Sorry, I either don’t know or can’t think of the proper terms for those things.)

From someone who frequently uses footnotes, I like option #2. Seems cleaner and simpler.


Well, you already have piles of documentation from me on this topic, so I’ll just restate that I have stated. :slight_smile:

I think that if option 2 was the plan, having notes temporarily expanded while active (be it during creation or editing) and then immediately collapse when focus is removed, would make the “hidden” view much more useful and less jarring. If everything expands and then collapses when you make a note, that could make for a dizzying experience if there are a lot of notes peppered about.

About #2

If there is a lot of annotations they might push the current looked-at text far down when shown and so loose the focus? Or maybe it is easy to keep track of the scroll?


I’m currently revising my notes for my students … currently working on Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”. That means a note – footnote – every few words, but with the system as it is, using ghost mode, I don’t have any trouble at all and actually like it better than using footnotes or endnotes directly as in Nisus. I don’t have to think about numbering or formatting, and the data is right next to the word or phrase that I’m annotating, and having the ghost mode set pale means they don’t get in the way of the main text.

For collapsing notes, I’d like them all collapsed with only the active note open when being read or edited. Having them all collapsing and opening, collapsing and opening every time you opened one would be very distracting … I would have to turn it off!


Wouldn’t it be possible to have both?
Single annotations/footnotes can be shown/hidden by clicking on a small arrow besides them.
The menu would host Sow/Hide all footnotes/annotations, which would hide/show all.
This would be the solution for everyone.

Yes, that would be fine As I say, I’m happy with them not collapsed at all. My impression of what we’re wanting to avoid is a situation where if you click on one note, they all open up, and then close down when you leave that note.


It would kind of be an all or nothing thing - all visible or none visible. Though, to be honest, I don’t have much hope for this anyway. I contacted Apple tech support about this a month ago, and after an initial vague suggestion, the tech support guy keeps telling me that he’ll try to make some time to look at it and have something for me in a day or two, then a week goes by and I ping him again, repeat. So, I guess this is pretty difficult even for an Apple tech support person…
All the best,


Okay, I have some news on this. This is the ONLY way it seems I’m going to get this to work - it’s very complicated):

  • There would be a Hide Annotations / Hide Footnotes toggle. They would work the same, so, as an example, let’s say that you were working with footnotes:

Selecting “Hide Footnotes” would hide ALL footnotes. Some sort of small marker would be drawn in the background of the text view to indicate that there is a hidden footnote at such and such a point (a small, superscript, grey “fn” hopefully).

At this point, to enter a new footnote, you would have to first type the footnote, then select it it, and set it as a footnote - at which point it would be hidden, along with the others.

To edit an existing footnote, you would just have to show all footnotes.

Upon showing or hiding all, obviously I’d make sure that the current text range on which you were working stayed visible and wasn’t pushed off the screen in an awkward fashion.

Personally, I think this is fine, and much better than the “Ghost Notes” compromise, but I’d welcome feedback. But just to be clear - this is the ONLY way it’s going to happen. It’s this, or nothing. Even Apple tech couldn’t come up with a more flexible method. So, please, I’m not asking for suggestions, just for opinions on this vs Ghost Notes Mode.


Keith, not a suggestion, but a couple of questions. Am I clear
(1) that it’s an either Hide Notes or Ghost Notes Mode? That if you didn’t have the notes hidden, they would be completely in clear and couldn’t have Ghost Notes applied?
(2) Annotations and Footnotes would be tied together with both either hidden/unhidden, rather than say Annotations unhidden, with Footnotes hidden?

'Cos in the first case, I think I personally would rather stick with the Ghost Notes Mode. I wouldn’t be unhappy if the generality of opinion went for Notes Hidden; both approaches have advantages and disadvantages. But I think the screen redrawing when hiding/unhiding notes would be more distracting — even with the cursor position remaining centred on the screen — than the discontinuity of the main text.

And in the second case, if they are tied together, I think I’d also prefer Ghost Notes Mode. But again, if the generality went the other way, I wouldn’t kick up a fuss.

Just my 2 角’s worth.


Hmm, y’know, I don’t suppose there is any reason that I couldn’t keep Ghost Notes mode in addition to this option (and to be honest, I’m not sure yet if the hiding of footnotes and annotations will have to be Leopard-only, as so far it relies on a Leopard-only method, so if it were to be Leopard-only I ought to keep Ghost Notes for Tiger users anyway). I guess I was just thinking about clearing away the Ghost Notes code as I’ve moved some of it around to more efficient places that make it harder to do the fading stuff. But, not impossible.

Just to clarify: they wouldn’t be tied together, though, no. You could show/hide annotations separate from showing/hiding footnotes.

All the best,

That’s great. If you can keep the Ghost Notes Mode too, and as they will be separate, I say go for it. I will even think of buying another licence to give to someone as a present as a way of showing my gratitude!